Houston Scooter Accident Lawyer
In 2017, rideshare e-scooters began appearing in cities across the United States. Reports started coming in about scooter injury accidents, too. By 2019, at least 44 scooter bills were introduced in 26 states. This is a new area of law, and Attorney Tom wants to be at the forefront of it. If you have been injured in an e-scooter accident, our scooter accident lawyers want to talk to you.
Attorney Tom focuses on major personal injury and product liability cases. Our experienced lawyers take on the biggest and most complex cases. We understand our responsibility to our clients and their families, and we take that responsibility very seriously. When you contact us about your e-scooter injury case, we’ll start with a free and confidential consultation. If you decide to proceed, we will take your case on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t owe us anything until we win your case. Call our Houston scooter accident lawyers today at (713) 244-6363 to discuss your e-scooter case.
Why do you need a lawyer?
When e-scooters were first introduced in late 2017, people thought they would be an excellent way to combat global warming. They also found scooters provided a simple, convenient solution for the “last mile” of travel.
But then the injuries started to add up. Multiple concussions, bilateral forearm fractures, blunt head trauma, even brain injuries have occurred, some requiring surgery. A survey of 23 medical facilities, police departments, and other entities found that 1,545 scooter-related injuries were reported as of January 31, 2019. Almost half of the injuries are head injuries, and 15% involved head trauma. In Portland, Oregon, the e-scooter injury rate was 2.2 per mile and 2.5 per scooter trip. Compare to the injury rate to cars, as reported by the National Transportation Safety Administration of .05 per 10,000 vehicle miles for motorcycles and 0.1 per 10,000 miles for cars. The injury rate for e-scooters is hundreds of time higher than the injury rate for motorcycles.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study conducted in Austin, Texas in April 2018 looked at the contributing factors for e-scooter injuries. The report found, first and foremost, that riders did not wear helmets and the e-scooter companies provide no helmets. Another contributing factor was lack of experience and training for e-scooter riders.
Notable findings of the CDC report:
- The survey revealed that 99% of e-scooter riders do not wear helmets.
- Relatively few accidents were caused by colliding with a vehicle – 10% or less, in the survey.
- Most accidents were single vehicle accidents not involving another vehicle or a pedestrian.
- In a critically important finding, one-third of injury accidents were on the first trip on a scooter.
- 60% of riders got their training from a phone application provided by the scooter company.
- Over a third of riders felt excessive speed was a significant contributor to their injury accident.
- Almost two-thirds of injury accidents were reported by riders with nine e-scooter trips or fewer.
If you have been injured in a vehicle accident when riding an e-scooter, Attorney Tom would like to discuss your options with you. We can file a claim against the driver’s insurance company to collect damages and get you money to cover medical expenses, future medical and rehabilitative expenses, any property damage you may have sustained, and pain and suffering, too. We will handle all the evidence gathering and communications with the defendant’s insurance company. We will negotiate a settlement, or barring that, file a lawsuit for damages in civil court. These cases would be straightforward personal injury claims, and Attorney Tom has plenty of experience collecting damages for our clients.
Major legal and damages issues with e-scooters
The civil litigation landscape for the e-scooter industry is likely not in personal injury cases involving vehicular accidents. It is more likely in product liability and the sustainability of the scooter companies’ business models. Many of the scooter companies, like Lyft and Bird, picked cities with their preferred demographics, like Portland, Oregon, Nashville, Tennessee, and Austin, and put a lot of e-scooters on the street. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), responsible for regulating bicycles and scooters, did not have the opportunity to review the safety of their products or the way the companies themselves train and regulate their customers. Given the prevalence of injury accidents, it may be time for the cities themselves to regulate e-scooter companies. Nashville recently banned scooters from their streets, and Portland is reviewing their experience closely to see what to do to make scooters, and city streets, safe for riders and other vehicles.
Product Liability and Limitations
Scooters can travel at a maximum of 15 miles per hour, which is fast enough to cause significant injury if the rider is thrown off the scooter but not fast enough to drive in the travel lane of most cities. E-scooter riders must, therefore, use the bicycle lane. In places where the bicycle lane is a separate lane from the vehicle lane, this is safe. But in places where the bicycle lane is merely a painted line, scooter riders may not be sufficiently protected from vehicle traffic, particularly around sharp curves and in situations where the there is a turn lane for cars that the scooter must cross.
There has been a concern that the CPSC is poorly equipped to regulate so many new mobility products coming on the market so quickly. CPSC regulations have not been significantly updated in 40 years and do not currently account for electric motors, disc brakes, and lightweight carbon frames. In April, Lyft pulled e-scooters off the streets of New York, Washington and San Francisco due to a defect with the front brake that pot3entially could send riders flying over the handlebars. Also, the “one-size-fits-all” nature of e-scooters may not bear scrutiny. Taller riders may find the ride to be unstable, and it takes time to get accustomed to the small front wheel and the sharp turning radius.
The Tough Issues: Helmets and Training
The two most pressing issues concern helmets and training. The scooter companies have been noncommittal on both issues, which will require regulators and the scooter companies to cooperate in order to resolve them. This will no doubt involve plaintiffs’ representation to put pressure on all sides to come to the table to negotiate. It seems unlikely that scooter companies can continue their laissez-faire approach to helmets, in particular, but providing each rider with a helmet for every trip will require some innovation and increased costs.
The training issue will also require a change in the scooter companies’ business model, which currently requires riders merely to have a smartphone and agree to the terms and conditions for the scooters (at least one company has terms and conditions totaling 18,000 words). But a process of developing training that all riders must undertake before they can hire their first e-scooter trip will involve significant costs and a complex process to develop.
The Legal Landscape: E-scooter User Agreements
Finally, there are the user’s agreements themselves. With injury rates as high as they are for e-scooters, having the complex terms and conditions that are drafted in a unilateral process solely by the scooter companies is no longer acceptable. And this is where civil attorneys could potentially provide much assistance to cities, injured riders, and the scooter companies themselves. The user agreements have to be carefully considered so that they protect all parties involved, including riders, the liability of the scooter company, city governments, insurance companies, and even vehicle drivers sharing the road with e-scooters. This process should include civil litigators because the civil process is about assessing risk and determining monetary damages.
Attorney Tom is excited at the prospect of working through the issues involved with e-scooters. They are a technology that has found a market and appear to be here to stay. However, e-scooters must be adequately regulated so not to pose undue risks to riders. Attorney Tom is committed to guiding clients through the injury claims process following their e-scooter accident.
Contact Us Today
E-scooter accidents deal with the kind of personal injury law we have always practiced: looking out for the vulnerable and working in their interests against defendants with competing agendas. We want to talk to you about your scooter accident. Allow us to get the whole story and determine what the issues are so we can tackle them. There is a level of complexity to the current situation with e-scooters, a complexity we have dealt with many times before. The legal process we recommend based upon that consultation will be the best one for you. Submit a contact form or call us today at (713) 244-6363 so we can set up a free consultation.