What is New in E-Scooter Liability and Laws

nathan-dumlao-1064615-unsplash-copy-200x300Take a stroll through Downtown Miami or other major US cities, and you are bound to see that more people are getting around on a new form of transportation — electric scooters, or e-scooters as they are called by service providers Bird and Lime. These vehicles have been on the streets of Miami since April 2019 under a six-month pilot program, but e-scooters have raised considerable controversy in other locations where they are operating on a more permanent basis. The latest from Consumer Reports reveals that eight people have died and another 1,500 riders have been injured across 47 cities since e-scooter services launched in late 2017. 

E-scooter accidents are a relatively new area of law, so it is important to trust a Miami personal injury lawyer to handle the legal details if you were hurt. Meanwhile, there are some important points to note about e-scooter liability.

Safety Measures are Not Enforced

Probably the riskiest aspect of e-scooter ridesharing services is that the companies operating them cannot – or do not – enforce their own rules regarding safety. For instance:

  • These organizations can recommend a helmet, but they cannot monitor usage.
  • They can make sure the renter has a driver’s license and is over 18 years old, but they cannot prevent that person from allowing someone else to operate the e-scooter.
  • Bird and Lime have strict rules about solo riding, but there is no way to enforce them.

Few Riders Know the Applicable Traffic Laws

Renters of e-scooters are not provided with specific instructions for operating them, so there is considerable confusion about where they can ride. Because they can travel up to 15 miles per hour, some operators may attempt to ride on roadways; others will stick to the sidewalks and/or designated bike lanes. Ultimately, this confusion can lead to accidents with motorized vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

Plus, many users are not aware that traffic laws apply to them, regardless of where they are riding. Florida’s Rules of the Road include specific provisions for motorized vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians, so an e-scooter operator must follow the relevant regulations based upon the circumstances. For instance, if an e-scooter is allowed on sidewalks, the rider must obey all signals that pertain to pedestrians. Likewise, users must follow all laws when traveling in a bike lane.

Insurance Will Not Cover Most Injuries

E-scooters are two-wheeled vehicles, so most auto insurance policies will not cover your injuries if you are involved in an accident, regardless of who is at fault. Both Bird and Lime state in their rental agreements that riders relieve the companies of any and all liability. There may be an exception if the e-scooter was defective or not properly maintained by the service provider.

Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Attorney About Your Legal Options

For more information on your rights and remedies as the victim of an e-scooter collision, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA to set up a no-cost consultation. We can meet with you at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach at your convenience. Once we assess the details of your case, we can discuss an appropriate strategy to proceed.

(image courtesy of Nathan Dumlao)