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E-Scooter Accidents on the Rise: What Riders Need to Know

e-scooter accidents and personal injury law

As the sun sets on the bustling streets of our cities, a new silhouette has emerged in the twilight: the electric scooter (e-scooter). This modern marvel, a beacon of green transportation, has quickly become a favorite for commuters and thrill-seekers alike. However, with the growing popularity of e-scooters, there has been a notable increase in accidents, making it crucial for riders to understand the legal landscape surrounding these incidents. From common injuries to liability considerations and protective steps, this guide will navigate the essentials every e-scooter enthusiast must know.

Understanding the Surge in E-Scooter Accidents

In recent years, e-scooters have flooded urban landscapes, offering a swift and eco-friendly alternative to traditional transportation methods. However, this surge has come with its share of challenges, notably a significant rise in e-scooter accidents. These incidents range from minor falls to severe collisions with vehicles, presenting a complex web of legal and safety considerations for riders.

The rapid ascent of electric scooters (e-scooters) as a favored mode of urban transport has not come without its pitfalls. A pioneering study titled “Unveiling the Surge: A Comprehensive Analysis of E-Scooter-Related Injuries at an Urban Level 1 Trauma Center in Vilnius, Lithuania (2018-2021)” led by Kristupas A Suslavičius and colleagues has shed light on this pressing issue. Conducted at the Republican Vilnius University Hospital (RVUH), a level 1 trauma center, this research stands as one of the inaugural efforts within the Baltic States to meticulously analyze the causes, severity, and frequency of e-scooter injuries over a span from 2018 to 2021. The study’s findings underscore a disturbing trend: despite increased regulatory efforts aimed at curbing such incidents, there has been a significant escalation in e-scooter-related injuries, urging a reevaluation of current safety measures and policies to mitigate these risks effectively.

This comprehensive investigation delved into e-scooter-related injuries recorded at the RVUH from April to September during the years 2018-2021, scrutinizing data to extract critical insights on demographics, injury specifics, helmet usage, and alcohol consumption among other factors. The introduction of scooter-sharing platforms in 2019 marked a turning point, triggering a 334% surge in injuries compared to the previous year. This trend continued upward, with an annual increase of 208% in reported injuries from 2018 to 2021, culminating in a staggering 710.93% rise in 2021 alone. The majority of these injuries, while mild to moderate in nature as indicated by the New Injury Severity Score (NISS) and Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS), highlighted a glaring issue: a whopping 97.97% of victims were not wearing helmets at the time of their accidents. The study’s revelations about the predominance of soft tissue damage, the significant impact on upper and lower limbs, and the steady shift towards rental e-scooters underscore the urgent need for comprehensive preventive measures, improved rider education, and stricter enforcement of e-scooter regulations to ensure safer urban mobility.

Common Injuries from E-Scooter Accidents

As e-scooters, along with e-bikes and hoverboards, surge in popularity for personal transportation and leisure, there’s been a notable increase in the number of injuries treated in emergency departments across the nation. A significant report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), titled “Micromobility Products-Related Deaths, Injuries, and Hazard Patterns,” highlights a nearly 21% increase in injuries associated with all micromobility devices in 2022 compared to the previous year. This uptrend isn’t new; since 2017, micromobility-related injuries have been on the rise, showing an estimated annual increase of 23%. Specifically, e-scooter injuries saw a 22% jump in 2022 from 2021. Alarmingly, nearly half of all estimated e-bike injuries recorded from 2017 to 2022 occurred in 2022 alone, illustrating the growing impact of these devices on public health.

The CPSC’s analysis reveals that fractures and contusions/abrasions are the most common forms of injuries resulting from e-scooter accidents, with the upper and lower limbs, as well as the head and neck, being the most frequently injured body areas. This data underscores the vulnerability of e-scooter riders to significant harm, particularly in incidents involving collisions with motor vehicles or due to control issues. Children 14 years and younger constitute about 36% of micromobility injuries, highlighting a disproportionate risk to this demographic. Moreover, the report sheds light on demographic disparities, noting that non-Hispanic Black consumers represented 29% of micromobility device-related injuries, a figure significantly higher than their 13% share of the U.S. population. Such statistics call for urgent actions to improve safety measures, enhance rider education, and enforce compliance with established safety standards to mitigate the risks associated with the use of e-scooters and other micromobility devices.

The Legal Landscape: Liability and Compensation in New Jersey

The burgeoning use of electric scooters in urban centers brings not only environmental benefits and convenience but also introduces a complex array of legal challenges, particularly when accidents result in personal injuries. In the tangled web of New Jersey’s legal framework, determining who is at fault in electric scooter accidents can be a multifaceted issue, often involving multiple parties.

For riders, the expectation is clear: operate electric scooters with the same level of care and adherence to traffic laws as any other road user. Failure to comply, such as riding under the influence, ignoring traffic rules, or causing pedestrian accidents, pegs the rider with negligence, making them liable for damages. Conversely, the liability does not solely rest on the rider. Motorists, for example, can be held accountable for accidents involving electric scooters if their actions—or lack thereof—contribute to an incident. Moreover, electric scooter companies shoulder a significant portion of responsibility, particularly concerning the maintenance, design, and operational functionality of their scooters. From ensuring routine inspections to addressing known defects, companies must maintain a stringent standard of care to prevent accidents. Should an accident occur due to a company’s oversight or negligence, whether through inadequate maintenance or product defects, the path to holding these entities accountable opens up, highlighting the intricate balance of responsibilities shared across the ecosystem of electric scooter use in urban environments.

In addition to these direct responsibilities, electric scooter companies are tasked with educating their users on safe riding practices and local laws, a duty that extends to the provision of clear usage instructions and safety guidelines. Despite the common practice of having users agree to terms and conditions that may include liability waivers, the protection these agreements offer to companies is not absolute in New Jersey. Circumstances of gross negligence or willful misconduct can pierce through these defenses, making companies vulnerable to legal action. Moreover, the efficacy of such agreements can be further compromised if the terms are ambiguously drafted or deceptive. This layered complexity underscores the necessity for those involved in electric scooter accidents to seek proficient legal counsel. Understanding the depths of liability, especially when it involves potential negligence on the part of scooter companies, is pivotal in navigating the aftermath of such incidents and ensuring that victims receive the compensation and justice they deserve.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

In the wake of an electric scooter accident, navigating the complex landscape of filing a personal injury claim can be daunting, especially without expert legal guidance. This is where The Law Offices of Vincent J. Ciecka steps in, offering professional legal services to the residents of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. With over 45 years of experience in protecting and prosecuting accident victims’ rights, both in and out of court, our clients can depend on receiving quality results. Our specialized knowledge of the legal system and the insurance industry ensures that every case is treated with the highest levels of professionalism. Whether dealing with catastrophic injuries, vehicle collisions, slip, trip and falls, or any other personal injury claim, our team at Ciecka Law is committed to fighting for proper compensation and navigating clients through the legal intricacies with the utmost care and expertise.

The journey towards obtaining proper compensation for injuries sustained in an e-scooter accident can be fraught with challenges, from dealing with insurance companies to understanding the nuances of product liability. At Ciecka Law, we have a broad range of experience in main areas of practice that are crucial to addressing these challenges effectively. We offer comprehensive support in cases involving catastrophic injuries, which often entail long recovery periods, extensive medical bills, and the need for operations and rehabilitation. Additionally, our expertise extends to navigating the complexities of auto and vehicle collisions, including those involving trucks and e-scooters, ensuring our clients are adeptly represented in court against insurance companies and negligent parties. With a commitment to providing the best legal services possible, Ciecka Law stands as a beacon of hope for those affected by accidents, guiding them towards the compensation and justice they deserve.

The Future of E-Scooter Legislation

The legal framework governing electric scooters in the United States continues to evolve, presenting a patchwork of regulations that vary significantly from one state to another. In 2024, e-scooter enthusiasts must navigate a legal landscape that is predominantly shaped by local ordinances, with states and cities setting their own rules regarding speed limits, licensing, safety equipment, and more. This local approach to regulation means that e-scooter laws in major urban areas like Los Angeles, Miami, and Austin each present unique challenges and requirements for riders. A focus on rider safety remains a core element of these regulations, with an emphasis on the use of helmets, proper lighting for visibility at night, and adherence to age restrictions—all aimed at ensuring the safety of both riders and the public at large.

As electric scooters are often classified alongside electric bicycles under the category of low-speed electric vehicles, the intricacies of state-level regulations add another layer of complexity for riders. In New Jersey, for example, the law mandates helmet use for riders under the age of 17 and sets a maximum speed limit of 19 mph for e-scooters, reflecting a cautious approach to integrating these devices into the urban mobility landscape. Furthermore, the recent legal developments in New Jersey, including the classification of e-bikes and e-scooters as low-speed electric bicycles and scooters, respectively, have simplified the process for residents to own and use these micromobility devices. This adjustment aligns with federal guidelines, eliminating the need for a license, insurance, or registration for low-speed electric bicycles and scooters, thereby promoting their use as a convenient and sustainable mode of transportation. As the legal definitions and regulations around micromobility vehicles continue to adapt, it’s clear that the future of e-scooter legislation will be dynamic, requiring ongoing attention from riders, municipalities, and legislators alike to balance innovation with safety and accessibility.

Embracing the Future of E-Scooters with Knowledge and Safety

As we stand on the cusp of further integrating electric scooters into our urban landscapes, the importance of staying informed and proactive about safety and legal responsibilities cannot be overstated. The evolution of e-scooter legislation reflects a growing acknowledgment of these devices’ potential to transform urban mobility, offering a green, efficient, and accessible transportation option. However, this transformation comes with its set of challenges, particularly in ensuring the safety of riders and the public, and navigating the intricate web of local and state regulations that govern their use. For riders, the key to harnessing the benefits of e-scooters while minimizing risks lies in a commitment to safety—through the use of helmets, compliance with traffic laws, and respect for pedestrian spaces—and staying abreast of the legal landscape that continues to evolve. For municipalities and legislators, the challenge is to create frameworks that support innovation while protecting public welfare. As we move forward, the collective effort of riders, communities, and lawmakers will be paramount in shaping an environment where e-scooters are not just a novel addition to our streets, but a staple of sustainable urban transportation.

Resources:

  1. Unveiling the Surge: A Comprehensive Analysis of E-Scooter-Related Injuries at an Urban Level 1 Trauma Center in Vilnius, Lithuania (2018-2021)National Library of Medicine
  2. E-Scooter and E-Bike Injuries Soar: 2022 Injuries Increased Nearly 21%United States Consumer Product Safety Commission
  3. Injury patterns and circumstances associated with electric scooter collisions: a scoping reviewInjury Prevention BMJ Journals
  4. E-Bikes, E-Scooters, and More in New JerseyNJ Bicycle & Pedestrian Resource Center