Electric scooters (also known as e-scooters) are with increasing frequency sending South Florida riders to hospitals in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami. According to the Sun Sentinel, more than 100 people have been transported by ambulance to Broward Health Medical Center in the last year – more than one-third of those with head injuries – following e-scooter accidents.
In total last year, there were 146 e-scooter accidents reported in all of Fort Lauderdale. In Miami, there were 87 from April 2019 to mid-January of this year.
As more people are riding and helmets are optional, head and facial injuries from e-scooter accidents has tripled over the last 10 years. Head injuries can range from a concussion to a brain hemorrhage and serious blunt force trauma injuries. Unfortunately, many people still don’t seem to realize how dangerous e-scooters can be – which could point to scooter companies’ failure to warn the public. One study by researchers at the University of California found that the percentage of serious head injuries sustained by e-scooter riders is double that of bicyclists. Only about 2 percent to 4 percent of injured riders were wearing helmets, according to the UC analysis. Another study conducted last year by the CDC/Austin Public Health revealed only 1 e-scooter rider out of 190 injured in that city was wearing a helmet.
But as our Fort Lauderdale brain injury lawyers can explain, whether a rider is wearing a helmet or not shouldn’t necessarily bar anyone from filing a lawsuit against a negligent party responsible for these crashes. This is especially true because as long as e-scooters don’t travel more than 30 mph, no helmet is required.
Liability for South Florida E-Scooter Injuries
Dockless scooters have been a regular site in South Florida since 2018. But as some South Florida injury attorneys have noted, our traffic infrastructure seems ill-prepared for this technology. That’s another reason these crashes are occurring. Electric scooters aren’t designed to be used on sidewalks (they travel too fast), but putting them on the road with cars puts riders at high risk for motor vehicle collision injuries. Approximately 75 percent of known e-scooter crash fatalities nationally have involved a motor vehicle.
Scooter companies like Bird and Lime are being sued by a number of people for gross negligence and negligence. In one class action lawsuit against e-scooter companies Bird and Lime, plaintiffs allege the companies “dumped” the devices on public streets without appropriate warning when they should have known the devices would become a dangerous public nuisance. Some of those in the class action litigation were pedestrians who were struck from behind by e-scooter operators.
E-scooter operators Bird, Lime as well as e-scooter manufacturers Segway and Xiaomi are facing product liability lawsuits alleging defects in mechanical parts and electronic components. Some plaintiffs allege inadequate warnings about how dangerous electric scooters can be, especially without use of a helmet.
Plaintiffs also say poor maintenance of the devices can make them highly prone to malfunction and difficult operation. In one such case, a 26-year-old operating a Lime Scooter in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood reported her rented e-scooter’s brakes failed just as she was approaching an intersection. When she tried to steady herself, she reports she ended up falling backward, slamming her head onto the concrete. She was treated at the hospital for a head injury. In her brain injury lawsuit, she alleges that not only did the scooter app indicate a “maintenance required” notice for her device prior to the accident (one that an employee overrode before renting it to her), the company never gave her the option of wearing a helmet.
Unfortunately, some riders are discovering their recourse against operators like Lime and Bird may be limited, unless they allege gross negligence (as opposed to ordinary negligence). The reason is the companies require riders to sign a waiver of liability as one of the terms and conditions for renting one of their scooters. However, some plaintiffs with pending cases are intending to challenge the validity of those waivers.
In the meantime, other potential defendants in scooter injury cases may include:
- Negligent motorists
- Negligent e-scooter operators
- Cities that contract with e-scooter companies
An experienced Fort Lauderdale e-scooter injury lawyer can help explain your legal options during a free initial consultation.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC 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.
More e-scooters on the roads, and more riders sent to hospitals with head injuries, Feb. 5, 2020, By Cindy Krischer Goodman, The Sun-Sentinel