Scooter Accident Attorneys in Atlanta Protecting Victims’ Rights
Scooter activity has surged in the greater Atlanta region in recent years. Scooter companies like Bird, Lime, and Jump allow users to locate and rent scooters by using an app on their cell phone or other electronic device. Moreover, a scooter user is not responsible for picking up the scooter, dropping it off, or charging it. Instead, scooter riders can find the scooters and drop them off at various locations throughout Atlanta.
As you can imagine, given the convenience and accessibility of scooters in and around Atlanta, these vehicles have become more popular than ever. However, increased traffic around Atlanta has presented serious dangers to scooter riders. When motor vehicle operators are not paying attention to the roadway, or if they are distracted while operating their vehicles, they can collide with a scooter, causing the scooter operator to suffer serious injuries—most especially if the operator falls off the scooter and onto the ground. Scooter accidents can also occur when the scooters themselves are not properly maintained or if they malfunction while they are in use.
If you or a person you love has been injured in a scooter accident that was caused by another person’s negligence, then you may be entitled to recover monetary compensation. The Atlanta scooter accident lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm will review all of the facts and circumstances that surround your scooter accident, and can determine if you are eligible to file a claim or lawsuit.
Our legal team will work hard to help you pursue the damages you deserve from the at-fault party. Please give our Atlanta personal injury lawyers a call today for more information about how we can assist you with your Atlanta scooter accident case.
How Electric Scooters Are Used in Atlanta and the Terms of Agreement
Scooters are used as a means of transportation in the Atlanta area, with two of the most popular brands being Bird and Lime. A user must first download the app on a cell phone or other electronic device, to locate and unlock the scooter. The cost to unlock a scooter is typically $1, and there is a $0.15 charge for every minute that the scooter is used. All of the scooters are recharged at night.
When a user decides to use a Bird or Lime scooter, he or she must electronically sign a user agreement. As part of that agreement, the user must lock the scooter at the end of his or her trip. Otherwise, the user will continue to be charged at the rate noted above, up to $100.00 maximum. Also, under the agreement which the scooter user signs, any instances of a scooter malfunctioning or becoming damaged during a trip must be promptly reported via email or the company’s mobile app.
Under Lime’s user agreement, a scooter user must be 18 years old or older. However, a minor who is 16 years old may use a scooter, so long as the minor’s parent or guardian is the person who rents out the scooter. Lime’s user agreement also requires scooter users to report any accidents, including lost or stolen products, to the company immediately—and to report all injuries, crimes, or deaths to the police.
In addition, Atlanta has passed city ordinances that regulate where you can ride and leave a dockless scooter. You cannot rent dockless scooters from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., but can ride Relay Bikeshare and personal bikes, personal scooters, personal ebikes anytime. You cannot ride on sidewalks and must follow all applicable traffic laws.
Potential Dangers of Riding Electric Scooters
Although scooters can provide users with a quick and environmentally friendly method of transportation in and around Atlanta, there are numerous potential dangers associated with riding electric scooters. Some of these dangers exist because of the carelessness and negligence of other individuals who share the road with scooter users.
The most common causes of scooter accidents in Atlanta include the following:
Hazardous Conditions on the Road
Governmental entities, including cities and municipalities, are responsible for ensuring that roads, sidewalks, and other areas are in a safe condition at all times. However, when there are serious road defects, such as potholes or depressions, scooter riders are in danger. Running over a deep pothole, for example, may cause a scooter rider to lose his or her balance and fall from the scooter into the road, suffering a serious injury.
Governmental entities are also responsible for ensuring that roadways are designed properly and that traffic signals operate correctly. If a scooter accident results from improper roadway design or from a traffic signal malfunctioning, the injured accident victim may file a claim against the responsible governmental entity. However, in many instances, accident victims must place governmental entities on notice within a certain period of time, before filing a lawsuit against the entity.
The Atlanta scooter accident lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm will ensure that any claim made against a governmental entity is filed within the proper time period.
Motor Vehicle Collisions
Scooters often catch motor vehicle operators in the Atlanta area off guard. When motor vehicle operators speed, fail to follow traffic control devices (including traffic lights and stop signs), engage in distracted driving (such as talking on a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle), and/or violate other rules of the road, it significantly increases the likelihood that they will strike a scooter and cause serious injuries to the scooter operator.
In cases where a motor vehicle operator causes an accident that injures a scooter user, the motor vehicle operator’s insurance company is responsible for paying all of the scooter user’s related medical and physical therapy bills, lost earnings, and other damages arising from the occurrence. Moreover, in some instances, the insurance company will try and claim that the scooter user was fully or partially responsible for the accident that caused the injuries.
If you suffered injuries in a scooter accident that was not your fault, you should speak with an experienced Atlanta scooter accident attorney at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm, before speaking with any insurance company adjuster.
Accidents That Involve Pedestrians
Sometimes, a pedestrian collides with a scooter or vice versa. When that happens, one party will often try and blame the other for the collision and injuries that result. When it comes to comparative negligence, the State of Georgia uses a system of modified comparative fault to determine how damages should be awarded under these types of circumstances.
Under Georgia’s modified comparative fault law, a personal injury plaintiff who is injured in a scooter accident is only eligible to recover damages if that he or she is deemed less than 50 percent responsible for the accident.
The Atlanta scooter accident lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm will do everything possible to help you pursue the maximum amount of monetary compensation available to you in your scooter accident case.
Mechanical Defects on Scooters
Even though scooter companies like Lime and Bird do everything possible to ensure that their scooters are in good working condition for the benefit of their customers, mechanical defects can sometimes cause problems that lead to accidents and injuries. When the injured user can prove that the scooter malfunctioned because of negligent maintenance, then he or she may bring a personal injury claim directly against the scooter company.
Similarly, if the accident victim can show that the scooter accident occurred because of one or more defective parts on the scooter, then he or she may file a claim against the parts manufacturer.
The legal team of Atlanta scooter accident lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm will review your case and ascertain exactly how your scooter accident occurred, as well as the likely cause of your accident. We can then file the necessary claims or lawsuits against any and all potentially liable parties.
Common Injuries Suffered by Victims of Scooter Accidents
Operators of scooters, unlike motor vehicle operators and passengers, do not have a shell of protective metal surrounding them when they are on the road. If a motor vehicle strikes a scooter user directly—and if the scooter user falls to the ground as a result—then he or she is likely to suffer serious and potentially fatal injuries in the accident. The likelihood of these injuries is exacerbated when a motor vehicle operator strikes a scooter at a high rate of speed.
Some of the most common injuries that a scooter user may suffer in an accident include the following:
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
- Back and neck injuries
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Nerve injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Soft tissue injuries, including muscular sprains and strains
- Road rash and other types of burn injuries
- Cuts and abrasions which can result in scarring
The more serious the injury sustained by the scooter user, generally speaking, the more lengthy, extensive, and costly the medical treatment. Hospital stays alone can cost in the thousands of dollars, not to mention the costs of certain medical procedures, including surgeries. In addition to incurring high medical bills following a scooter accident, an accident victim may be forced to miss a significant amount of time from work to seek and obtain treatment, as well as attend medical and physical therapy appointments.
Moreover, not all damages can be measured in dollars and cents. Victims of scooter accidents are likely to incur large amounts of pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental distress, emotional trauma, permanent disability, permanent inability to work, and loss of spousal companionship and family support. All of these items of damage are compensable under the law.
To be eligible for economic and/or non-economic damages following a scooter accident, you must demonstrate that you suffered one or more physical injuries in the scooter accident, and that your injuries and damages resulted from the scooter accident.
Sadly, in some cases, scooter accidents are fatal. These types of accidents are especially common where motor vehicle drivers are distracted and do not see the scooter operator, usually colliding with him or her at a high rate of speed. If someone you love was killed in a scooter accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, then you or one of the accident victim’s relatives may bring a wrongful death claim against the negligent person or entity who caused the accident and pursue wrongful death damages.
Insurance companies will do everything that they possibly can to downplay your injuries and limit the payout it will have to make following your accident. The reason for the insurance company’s skepticism is simple: insurance companies want to keep as much of their money as possible in-house, and insurance companies do not make money by paying out insurance claims. The Atlanta scooter accident attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can assist you in fighting for your right to monetary compensation for the injuries and damages that you suffered in your scooter accident.
Atlanta Scooter Accident Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
Nontraditional transportation options, especially for urban areas, made a significant debut in May 2010 when Uber carried its first passenger in San Francisco. Since then, the system that Uber pioneered—using a cell phone app to order rides from people using their personal cars—has spread to just about every large city in the U.S., and many more worldwide, in addition to numerous similar services competing in many of the same cities. Cheaper than taxis and easier to use in most locations, the rideshare industry has taken its place in American transportation, having since 2010 expanded into less urban areas and smaller cities.
Not long after Uber took to the streets, Capital Bikeshare began offering rental bikes at docking stations throughout Washington, D.C., in September 2010. Other docked bike-share services followed and now more than a dozen companies make rental bikes available in cities across the country. Dock station bike-share services were followed in 2017 by dockless bike-share services.
Like Uber and docked bike-share services, dockless services use an app-based payment method, but with the added advantage that you don’t have to find a bike-share docking station near your destination. You simply leave the bike on the sidewalk when you arrive, and someone else with the app for that service is free to take the bike from there. At least five dockless bike-share companies now operate in about 25 cities and suburbs.
Having seen the development of app-based ridesharing, app-based docked bike-share services, and app-based dockless bike-share services, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with an app-based dockless electric scooter service. Dozens of cities across the United States, Atlanta included, now have dockless rechargeable electric scooters scattered on street corners throughout the city, just waiting for someone with the right app to come by and zip off to their destination.
The concept, begun by Lime in January 2017 and joined by Bird in April 2017, is much like the one behind dockless bike-sharing, a service where Lime was also one of the early participants. Use the Lime app, find a Lime scooter, scoot to your destination, and leave the scooter on the sidewalk.
Many people might not be well acquainted with the scooter craze. If you count yourself among the uninitiated, below are a few answers to questions you might have about dockless electric scooters.
Who rents out electric scooters in Atlanta, and how?
At the moment, Spin, Bird, Lime, and Lyft are the major scooter services in Atlanta. However, that could change, as the Atlanta city government seeks to establish a regulatory scheme for the dockless scooters, and it is not clear who will emerge from the process with the necessary permissions to operate in the city.
As for the how, all of the dockless scooter operators have an app. You go to their website, download the app, agree to the legal conditions listed in the app, and away you go. You register a payment method with the company through the app. When you’re ready to rent a scooter, assuming you don’t stumble across one coming out of the MARTA station, the app will tell you where the nearest scooter is located.
Are scooters regulated?
Not yet, but they will be. Right now, the city has laws on the books prohibiting riders from riding on sidewalks, leaving scooters parked in the middle of sidewalks, and prohibiting riders from leaving their scooters lying on the ground. In addition, there is a 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. ban on riding scooters in the city.
Even more regulations are coming, however. In March, the city established a permit structure for companies seeking to operate dockless scooters and bikes in Atlanta. Companies operating those services in Atlanta who applied for permits by the April 27, 2020 deadline will know on May 8 whether they still will be allowed to operate in the city.
It appears from the application process that the main question will be the companies’ willingness to pay the operating fees and meet insurance and bond requirements. Atlanta is following in the footsteps of other major cities in this respect. For example, the District of Columbia recently instituted a regulatory scheme that cut the number of scooter operators in the city by half. Only four of the eight operators were granted permits, with Jump, Lyft, Skip, and Spin coming out on top, while Lime, Bird, Razor, and Bolt were left out in the cold. Lime and Bird were the two largest operators in the city before the new scheme. There is no telling how the Atlanta permitting process will turn out.
Are electric scooters dangerous?
For starters, these aren’t the scooters you rode as a kid; powered only by whichever leg you decided to push with until you were fortunate enough to come to a nice, exciting downhill street. These scooters have small but fairly powerful electric motors on the rear wheel, capable of driving a scooter at 30 miles per hour or more. That said, most scooter companies limit the speed of their scooters to 12 to 15 miles per hour, which apparently is plenty of speed to get scooter renters in trouble.
Numerous studies show that scooter-related injuries skyrocketed between 2014 and 2018. It is worth noting that there were no scooter rental operations before 2017, and the dramatic increase in accidents and injuries occurred mostly from 2017 to 2018. One study found that scooter injuries went from just over 8,000 in 2017 to 14,651 in 2018, an 83 percent increase.
Last year, in an attempt to gather local data, the city asked local hospitals to provide information on scooter injuries. While no formal data compilations are available yet, Grady Memorial Hospital, the largest in Georgia, has estimated that it sees from 80 to 100 injuries from scooter accidents every month. Those injuries have included serious head injuries and broken bones.
In fewer than four months, Atlanta saw four fatalities of scooter riders, apparently the only city with that many fatalities. The fourth death came just as the city imposed the nighttime ban on scooter-riding. It is not clear whether drivers had difficulty seeing the scooter riders, or if the scooter riders weren’t paying enough attention to vehicular traffic. What is clear, on the other hand, is that the negligence of drivers is capable of causing extremely serious crashes that often leave victims with severe injuries.
Do dockless rental scooters come with helmets?
No. All of the major dockless scooter operators stress safety on their websites, but none of them provide helmets with their scooters. Maybe the companies could not devise a reliable theft-prevention method that would allow each scooter renter to use the helmet without the risk of the rider choosing not to return it once he or she had reached a destination. One study found that only between 2 and 4.4 percent of scooter riders make a point to wear protective headgear.
What are common causes of scooter accidents?
A lack of federal statistics hampers any effort to gather accurate data on scooter accidents and injuries nationwide. The industry is new enough that there has not been sufficient time for the federal government to compile statistical reports, which typically have a lag of two years before full data is available. However, preliminary studies with small samples exist.
One study, by the Centers for Disease Control found that 29 percent of scooter accidents involved first-time riders, while 18 percent involved motor vehicles. This seems to indicate that rider inexperience and inattention to surrounding traffic—either by motor vehicle drivers or by scooter riders—are major causes of scooter accidents. Another study by the CDC—albeit using a very small sample—found that half of the injured scooter riders interviewed cited poor road surface conditions, including potholes and cracks in the asphalt, as the cause of their accident.
What are the most common injuries in scooter accidents?
A study published in the JAMA Surgery journal found that in one year, emergency room-treated injuries related to scooter accidents jumped from about 8,000 to about 16,000. A third of those scooter injuries in 2018 were head injuries, as compared to only about one-sixth of injuries suffered in bicycle accidents the same year. The authors of the study speculated that it is far more common for cyclists to wear a helmet and that the upright stance required to ride a scooter makes it difficult for a rider to protect their heads in accidents.
The same study found that fractures, bruises, abrasions, and scrapes were the next leading injuries. A CDC study also found that head injuries were the most common injury suffered by scooter riders, followed by upper extremity fractures, and then lower extremity fractures. A second CDC study with a smaller sample found with less specificity that nearly half of those riders injured in a scooter accident suffered a severe injury “such as a broken leg.”
Another study found that from 2014 through 2018, scooter riders suffered almost 40,000 injuries that were treated in emergency rooms, meaning more than half of those injuries occurred in that final two years of that five-year period. This was the same two years in which dockless scooter rental became available. Those injuries included broken bones, head injuries, cuts, contusions, and abrasions, though most riders in that study were not hospitalized. However, the JAMA Surgery study found that nearly 3,300 people suffering scooter-related injuries were admitted to hospitals, an increase of 365 percent, with a large percentage of those patients suffering head injuries.
Where can I find an electric scooter to rent?
That depends on which company’s app you install on your phone. You can have apps for more than one company, of course, so that you can take the first scooter you come across. If you can’t find one, the app will tell you where the nearest scooter to you is located. That said, in many cities, you can’t walk more than a block or two without stumbling over one—although it may not be a scooter operated by the company for which you have an app. Keep walking—you’ll find one. In some cities like San Diego, authorities have established “corrals” where scooters must be parked.
Can I sue the scooter operator if I have an accident?
That depends on the facts of your case, and winning is far from guaranteed. Even when it comes to equipment failures, the scooter companies—led by Lime and Bird, the innovators in the field—use seemingly ironclad liability waivers to avoid legal liability for accidents on their scooters. The waiver, part of a lengthy legal contract that riders must agree to before they can install and use the smart-phone app, is fairly comprehensive.
A class action suit against Bird and Lime is pending in Los Angeles, and alleges that the companies should be liable for poorly maintained scooters prone to malfunctioning. Since that suit was filed, Lime has altered its waiver agreement to require binding arbitration and a waiver of class action rights.
Additionally, Lime and Bird use independent contractors to maintain and repair their scooters. Much as Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services have used the independent contractor status of their drivers to avoid liability for driver negligence, it seems that Lime and Bird are utilizing a combination of rock-solid liability waivers and a defense that the companies are not liable for negligent repairs by independent contractors. The defense has worked well for ride-share companies so far.
Can I recover compensation after a scooter accident caused by a driver?
If you are injured in a scooter accident that was caused by a driver, there is a good chance you will recover compensation for your accident-related injuries. Like any other accident, if you can show your crash resulted from driver negligence, you will likely obtain compensation from the driver’s insurance company. Some examples of driver negligence that can lead to a serious scooter accident include:
- Distracted driving
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Impaired driving
To find out if you can recover compensation after a scooter accident, talk to a personal attorney in your area.
Contact an Atlanta Scooter Accident Lawyer Today About Your Legal Matter
If you or someone you care about has suffered injuries in a scooter accident that someone else caused, the legal team at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm is ready to help you pursue your claim or lawsuit today. Let our capable legal team fight for your right to receive the monetary damages and other compensation you deserve.
To schedule a free case evaluation and legal consultation with a knowledgeable Atlanta scooter accident attorney, please call us at (404) 418-8244 or contact us online to learn more.