The Appearance of Bird Scooters Brings Safety Concerns
North Carolina streets and sidewalks have been overrun with Bird scooters. These electric scooters are similar to bike share and car share programs such as Uber and Lyft but provide an easier way to navigate around heavy city traffic.
Electric scooter companies tout them as an innovative and environmentally friendly form of transportation which gets commuters around easily and out of their cars. Scooter companies proclaim that scooters are a way to get commuters to and from mass transit stations and workplaces.
However, there is an argument that some people who ride these scooters, many being tourists, are using them as toys, not alternatives to cars. In addition, scooters are not only decreasing carbon dioxide emissions, but also the amount of exercise pedestrians would otherwise be getting.
The Recent “Flock” into the ER
As injured electric scooter riders pour into emergency departments across the country, doctors scramble to document a trend that many view as a growing public safety problem. Bird electric scooters put not only the scooter riders but also pedestrians and motorists, at risk of serious accidents. The potential for injury is increased by the unsafe use of scooters, including:
- Children operating electric scooters
- People riding scooters on sidewalks
- Scooters left in the middle of sidewalks
- Scooters left in front of building entrances and exits, and blocking handicap access ramps
- People “tandem riding” (two riders) the electric scooters
Why Are Bird Scooters Dangerous?
Electric scooters can travel up to 15 miles per hour. Should a rider be struck by a car, serious injuries, such as a brain injury, paralysis, or even death can result.
Some of the risks of riding Bird Scooters include:
- Scooters are less visible than cars
- There are no barriers between the scooter rider and the road
- Road hazards such as potholes, gravel, uneven surfaces, and roadway debris
- Scooters are less stable than cars
- Inexperienced scooter riders
- Unexpected panic stops by scooter riders or vehicles
- Riders using high-risk behavior
- Mechanical problems with scooters
- Riders without helmets
Even people who carefully ride Bird scooters and react well to pedestrian and vehicle traffic may be caught off-guard and injured. In addition, the most common scooter accident is caused by a malfunction or defect with the scooter, which is out of the control of the rider. These scooters may experience heavy wear and tear and are not being checked for safety after each ride. Bird relies on riders to report mechanical problems to the company after the accident has already occurred. This is being considered a potential safety problem.
Who Is Responsible for a Scooter Accident?
Finding the source of compensation for injuries resulting from a Bird scooter accident can be a big issue. People are suffering serious injuries and often there is no source of liability insurance that will cover these claims.
North Carolina law requires all vehicle owners to have liability insurance; however, there is no such requirement for electric scooter riders. If you are injured in an accident involving a scooter, who pays for your injuries depends on who is at fault.
Third-party Vehicles – If a driver of another vehicle hits you while riding a scooter, they can be held liable for your injuries and you can initially make a claim against that driver and his insurance company.
Pedestrians – If you’re struck by a scooter while walking as a pedestrian, the rider of the scooter is liable for the accident. In most cases, a claim can be filed against the scooter driver’s homeowner’s insurance policy
Scooter Manufacturer – If the rider of the scooter is injured because the scooter malfunctions, then it may be possible to make a claim against Bird, but this depends on the circumstances and could be complicated.
Seeking Help from an Experienced Attorney
If you’re involved in an electric scooter accident, serious injuries can result and impact you and your family for the rest of your life. If someone else caused your accident, such as a third-party vehicle or the scooter malfunctioned, they should be held responsible.
For over 30 years, Riddle & Brantley has helped victims of motor vehicle accidents fight for justice and seek maximum compensation for their injuries. While every case is different, our team of dedicated attorneys and staff treat every client the same: with dedication and honesty.