Anyone in the city of Los Angeles over the last year have noticed a new type of Bird in town. This Bird, of course, is not in the sky, but rather all around major foot traffic areas in the city. Bird is the industry leader in the electric scooter movement, taking over cities with affordable, environmentally friendly transportation. While the electric scooters come with a lot of benefits, just how safe are they?
To those who have no intention of ever riding one of these electric scooters, there is still practically no way to avoid them while walking around the city. Riders will ditch their ride when they are done in the middle of sidewalks, leaned up against benches in parks and yes, even in water. All the major companies are doing their best to bring at least some decency to the parking aspect, but part of their appeal is attracting the “get up and go” crowd that doesn’t have time to search for a bike rack or something similar. Regardless, these scooters are causing injuries simply by being parked in the middle of areas they have no business being in. Since they are locked and somewhat heavy, moving them is difficult.
These scooters might cause some injuries while parked, but the real danger comes from riders zipping around congested areas of the city with little to no experience riding. Electric scooters in the city of Los Angeles, or really any major city in the United States, have never been particularly popular, but all of a sudden hundreds of these rides are being dropped off in the middle of urban areas. Each scooter has an electric motor that can provide instant acceleration up to 15 miles per hour (faster if going downhill).
Many people like to compare the electric scooter to the bicycle when it comes to safety. While there are some similarities, electric scooters are something that users in general seem to have less control of. One reason? If a person can’t ride a bike comfortably, they usually stay away from trying in a crowded area or on streets. Everyone seems to feel as though they can navigate a scooter. In urban areas though, people are required to weave in and out of traffic, respect street signs and lights like they are in a car and more. The learning curve is much steeper than most realize.
It can be confusing for new riders as far as where they should ride these electric scooters. Since they are seen parked on the sidewalk, are they meant for sidewalks? Technically, no. Although it’s virtually impossible to get in trouble for riding a scooter on a sidewalk in any city, using bike lanes or the edge of the road with the flow of traffic is the proper way.
These electric scooter companies are very much aware of how all these injuries make their company look. Bird provides safety instructions through their app when unlocking the scooter, and also on the scooter itself at times. When finished with the ride, instructions pop up on the phone to show the right and wrong ways to park the scooter. Not only that, but they actually have a program where people can request a free helmet, as long as the customer pays for shipping. The law in Los Angeles is that anyone riding a motorized scooter is required to wear a helmet, but it is rarely enforced. Bird is sponsoring a bill that would officially allow anyone 18 years of age and older to ride without a helmet.
Finally, the elephant in the room is that these electric scooters are easy to unlock and use while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The city of Los Angeles successful prosecuted a man for driving under the influence while riding a Bird for the first time this past September, setting a precedence. The rental agreements each rider signs prohibits riding the scooters while being under the influence of drugs, alcohol or medication, but some people don’t view riding a scooter in the same light as driving a car.
At this stage in the game, electric scooters are seen just as much as a novelty as they are a legitimate type of transportation. There are still a ton of people trying Bird, Lime, Jump and other services for the first time ever, and that’s exactly what these companies want as they continue to grow. The companies, viewed as somewhat reckless initially, seem to be staying ahead of backlash as much as possible by implementing new features that focus on safety for all involved. At the end of the day though, it comes down to the riders themselves. Riding electric scooters responsibly and in the right areas will greatly reduce accidents and injuries in the city of Los Angeles.
No matter how many precautions are taken by users and the main electric scooter companies, accidents are going to continue to make news. So what is the protocol if hit by a scooter as a pedestrian, or even as a driver?
Check The Health Of All Parties Involved
The first step, as is the case with any accident, is to check on the well being of all parties in the accident. These scooters can do a lot of damage, even without traveling that fast. Since they have a motor, the scooters are heavier than standard, self-powered scooters.
The person hit has a chance to be injured, but remember that the person operating the scooter can also take a pretty scary hit overall. Even if they are at fault, it is important for them to seek medical attention as well.
How Did It Happen?
If no injuries require emergency assistance, the next step is to take note of how the accident happened. This is going to be the best way for a person to build a strong case if legal action is pursued. It is not always that easy to piece together the entire sequence, especially if the accident happened seemingly out of the blue.
Things to look out for are the scene of the accident (was the electric scooter being used in an area that isn’t allowed), the current state of the driver (do they appear under the influence of any substances) and if any laws were being broken (failure to stop at a stop sign, not having lights on the scooter, etc.)
Instead of interrogating the other party, take note of these facts while contacting the police to report the accident. Even though it is not an auto accident, in many ways it is treated as one by law enforcement. They will show up, ask questions and possibly hand out citations.
Another thing to do while waiting is to gather information from the other people involved in the accident. They might not always be cooperative, but most people will exchange insurance information, names, phone numbers and more. With this information, any specifics can be dealt with much more quickly after the fact.
Get Treatment and Repairs Post Accident
If there is any pain from the accident, however minor, it is important to visit a doctor as soon as possible after everything is settled with law enforcement. The longer a person waits, the harder it is to pin the injury to the accident.
The default reaction for a lot of people who are just barely scratched up in an accident is to brush it off. However, after an accident, many times adrenaline is running so much that it is impossible to judge mild pain. Not until the next day will people really understand.
Damage also needs to be fully assessed as soon as possible. Take pictures at the scene of the accident if possible. The better the entire accident can be re-created, the stronger any type of case can be. If pictures are not taken there, take them as soon as possible so that it can’t be claimed that those scratches, dents and more were from something else.
Seek Legal Advice
Since electric scooters are so new, very few people have a clear understanding when it comes to rights. On a related note, electric scooter users might not know just how liable they are when in an accident. The best way to sort through all of that is to contact the services of a lawyer in the Los Angeles area that specializes in this new type of accident. In fact, there are Los Angeles electric scooter accident lawyers who spend most of their day working in this exact field.
Professional legal advice can speed up the entire process when trying to recover costs from doctor visits, damages and more. It’s a sign of the times that people now need to look out for motorized scooters when walking down the street, but like any other type of accident involving a moving vehicle, compensation can be claimed.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP — CONTACT OUR ORANGE COUNTY ELECTRIC SCOOTER ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS
If you’d like our help, just reach out. Our legal team is ready to fight for you. Call James at 714-759-5461. You can also contact us online. Please, don’t worry about cost and don’t be nervous. Consultations are free and confidential.