South Florida is slated to the site of the first major locale in the state to allow dockless, electric scooters on its streets. In Miami, however, not too many elected officials are excited about it, according to The Miami Herald. While those who voted in favor of the scooters say they provide a solution to the congested city’s traffic problems, offering something of a “last-mile” solution in between neighborhoods and public transit options. However, those representing neighborhoods of Little Haiti, Wynwood and Overtown don’t want the scooters back in the neighborhood after they were ousted earlier this summer.
The primary concern, officials told reporters, is Miami scooter accidents resulting in serious personal injury, given that the electric versions travel up to 15 mph.
The Risk of Electric Scooter Accident Injuries
A report in Insurance Journal in June detailed the fact that a number of scooters startups were drawing fire not just from politicians, but also pedestrian safety advocates and personal injury lawyers. Some of the earliest dockless electric scooter companies in Los Angeles and San Francisco allegedly created major problems when riders were traveling 15 mph down sidewalks, and then haphazardly leaving them there. As many injury attorneys noted, “This was an accident waiting to happen.”
The scooters first started cropping up in neighborhoods almost overnight last year. While they have come with a fair amount of praise, one of the biggest concerns for personal injury victims is that many of these companies don’t appear to have liability insurance adequate to cover injuries as they arise – a particularly concerning thing here in Florida, which is a no-fault state when it comes to car accidents.
The Washington Post reported earlier this year that in one community in California, emergency responders noted at least 34 serious accidents involving electric scooters just this summer, with 18 of those involving patients who were admitted to the emergency department just in the last two weeks in July. In San Francisco, one physician operating an emergency room department at a major hospital reported seeing as many as 10 serious scooter injuries every single week this summer, adding, “It’s just a matter of time before someone is killed. I’m absolutely certain of it.”
Some of the providers offer helmets to riders who request them, but they don’t come standard with each ride, and some require drivers (they do need to be at least 18-years-old with a valid driver’s license) to upload an in-app tutorial on helmet safety before they can check out an electric scooter for the first time.
Seeking Compensation for South Florida Scooter Accidents
There doesn’t seem to be any law in Florida mandating personal injury protection coverage for these rides the way it is required for motor vehicle operators per F.S. 627.736. This is similar to the way we treat those on bicycle, including electric assist bikes.
If the scooter rider is at-fault for a collision, they may be wrestling with their own health insurance and med pay. It’s possible that if one is licensed, they may be able to access PIP coverage if the crash they were involved in was technically a motor vehicle accident, but it will depend on the specific facts of the case.
Earlier this year, bike-sharing service LimeBike launched an electric scooter program in Wynwood, working with some 30 downtown businesses in advance of its launch. The regional general manager of LimeBike told reporters the scooters were a great chance to improve environmental conditions, reduce car traffic and make the shopping district safer.
They were later taken off the streets before this new pilot program was approved. Commissioners sought special approval from the city’s own attorney to make certain the city would be fully indemnified (not liable) for any resulting scooter accident injuries. The city has mandated scooter operators to be fully insured for personal injury or wrongful death claims that could arise, though the terms of that coverage are unclear.
If you are injured in an electric scooter injury in South Florida, our injury law firm in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach will help you determine your legal options.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at David J. Halberg, P.A., Attorneys at Law, by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
Electric scooters are on their way back to Miami. Only one commissioner is thrilled, Sept. 13, 2018, By Rob Wile, The Miami Herald
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