If you have been in a large city recently, you may have noticed a lot of people riding around on electric scooters. The trend is sweeping across the United States, with large companies investing millions of dollars and dropping hundreds of dockless electric scooters in cities across the nation.
The electronic scooter companies are aiming to reshape how people get around cities by creating a new era of environmentally friendly micro transportation. Bird and Lime are two of the largest electronic scooter companies in the United States, each with valuations of $2 to $3 billion.
The appeal? Both companies offer fairly cheap and convenient services. It costs just $1 to rent an electronic scooter, plus 15 cents per minute. There is no docking station, which means that riders are allowed to just “drop” their electronic scooters as soon as they are done with them. Moreover, the companies require that each rider is at least 18 years-old, and technically requires the riders to use a helmet, although enforcement of the helmet rule is difficult to police.
The companies also create products that are supposedly designed to increase rider safety. For example, Lime produces rider educational videos. Lime’s director of strategic development stated that these videos are “geared toward informing riders about safety and how/where to park responsibly.”
Electric Scooter Accidents and Injuries in Florida
Despite the electric scooter companies’ supposed commitment to safety, many people are being hurt while riding scooters, and in a shocking reversal of trends, the country’s electric-scooter companies are facing a huge backlash as more and more people are becoming aware of the serious safety concerns regarding the scooters.
In September 2018, the Washington Post detailed the high rise in injuries from accidents involving electronic scooters. It explained how emergency rooms around the country had been seeing a rise in injuries normally associated with car accidents. These injuries included broken wrists, shoulders, and noses, serious lacerations, knocked-out teeth, detached biceps as well as blunt head trauma. People have even died while riding the scooters.
The issue came to a head on October 19, 2018, when a class-action lawsuit was filed by nine people who were injured while riding the electric scooters. The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, and it accuses Lime and Bird, as well as the electronic scooter manufacturers Xiaomi United States and Segway, of “gross negligence” and “aiding and abetting assault.”
The suit accuses the companies’ practices have significantly contributed to the rise in injuries seen across the nation. These practices include negligently dumping scooters in the middle of cities without any real notice or warning. The pleadings state that the companies should have known that the scooters would have created a public nuisance.
Four of the nine plaintiffs claim in their pleadings that they were simply walking when people riding electronic scooters rammed into them from behind. One of the plaintiffs was a seven-year-old boy who suffered severe damage to his mouth. He had his front teeth damaged and had to have his lip stitched. Two of the plaintiffs were injured because they accidentally tripped over the scooters after they had been left carelessly on the sidewalk.
The plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that the electric scooter companies either knew or should have known that pedestrians could get injured from negligent riders. By failing to stop these collisions, the pleadings claim that the companies essentially assisted the negligent riders in their assaults.
Aside from allegedly acting negligently and preventing innocent pedestrians from being hurt by negligent riders, the plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that both Lime and Bird have defective equipment. The complaints state that the scooters themselves are dangerous because they contain defective electronic and mechanical parts. They further state that the companies give highly inadequate and ineffective safety instructions for riders.
The complaint states that the electronic scooter companies have “a wanton disregard for the safety of others.” These risks, the complaint argues, were either known or should have been known by the companies because they were well known in the professional community.
In a scathing statement, the complaint states that “[w]hile acting under the guise of the commendable goals of furthering personal freedom and mobility and protecting the environment, the defendants, and each of them, are endangering the health, safety and welfare of riders, pedestrians and the general public.”
In describing the severity of the injuries, the suit states that “scores (if not hundreds) of riders and pedestrians and members of the public have suffered, are continuing to suffer and will continue to suffer egregious and avoidable injuries and damage to their person and property.”
It should be noted that while the complaint makes numerous claims regarding the electronic scooters’ mechanical faults, it does not actually state any specific evidence for those claims.
Catherine Lerer, the personal injury lawyer who filed the lawsuit, stated that the electronic scooter “companies are putting profit over safety.” She cited the fact that since filing the lawsuit, 75 people who had been injured from the scooters had contacted her. One of the people was a 67-year-old man who had suffered a serious brain injury.
In response to the lawsuit, both Bird and Lime stated that they were looking into the issues alleged in the complaint, but said that the complaint was not focused on the real issue. In statement, a spokesperson from Bird stated that “[c]lass action attorneys with a real interest in improving transportation safety should be focused on reducing the 40,000 deaths caused by cars every year in the U.S.”
The spokesperson for Bird continued by stating, “We believe that the climate crisis and our car dependency demand a transportation mode shift, and clean energy vehicles like e-scooters are already replacing millions of short car trips. There is no evidence that riding an e-scooter presents a greater level of danger to riders than riding a bike. Cars remain the greatest threat to commuters, killing over 40,000 people in the U.S. yearly.”
In a separate statement, San Francisco-based Lime stated “While we don’t comment on pending litigation, safety has always been at the very core of everything we do at Lime – as is our mission of reducing cars from city street and making them safer and greener for pedestrians, bike and scooter riders alike.” The Spokesperson added that Lime “prides itself on taking proactive steps relating safety wherever we have a presence.”
South Florida Electric Scooter Accident Lawyers
At Wolfson & Leon, our personal injury attorneys have fought for injured victims in Florida since 1963. We have adapted as technology impacted the lives of our clients – from Uber and Lyft to electronic scooters. If you or a loved one were injured due to an electric scooter, then call us at 305-285-1115 for your free consultation.
We have offices in Miami, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. We are available to assist electric scooter victims throughout the state including, but not limited to, Tampa, Orlando, Sarasota, Naples, South Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Miami Beach, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Gainesville, St. Augustine and Daytona Beach.