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Some Thoughts On E-Scooters

Posted by Bradley Thayer | Mar 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

It may be readily apparent to everyone all the dangers that may come about with using e-scooters, but then again—maybe not.  Please bear with me.

Exposure and Vulnerability

Some of the most gruesome and awful injuries we see in our personal injury and wrongful death law practice results from motorcycles. An e-scooter leaves its rider just as vulnerable to external forces like cars or the ground as a motorcycle…except that, typically, motorcyclists wear protective gear before they take part in motorcycling whereas folks just jump on an e-scooter without much forethought and wearing whatever they were wearing at the time they decided to partake.

That means no helmets, no leather jackets, no gloves—no protection.

A recent article in the South Florida Sun Sentinel stated that head and facial injuries from riding electric scooters have tripled over the past decade as ridership has increased and helmets remain optional, according to studies the paper had found.  See “More e-scooters on the roads, and more riders sent to hospitals with head injuries” [https://www.sun-sentinel.com/health/fl-ne-scooter-injuries-20200201-dsyh33jftzevflcxdnw4g66voa-story.html].  That article mentions concussions and brain hemorrhages as common injuries connected to e-scooters.

It also suggest that studies have shown e-scooter incidents are twice as likely to result in a serious head injury than bicycle incidents.  The presumption would be, again, that when someone goes to get on a bicycle they think to wear a helmet.

My understanding of e-scootering (granted it is quite limited) is that helmets aren't available to rent for riders and riders typically just hop onto e-scooters spontaneously when they need to get some place faster than walking might take them.

While e-scooter companies scramble to try and make providing their riders helmets somehow feasible through social media campaigns and simply giving helmets away—trying to think through the logistics of how to effectively make that possible is difficult.

Potential Causes of Injuries Vary

It may not even be cars or bikes or other road users that cause injury to e-scooter users.  The Sentinel article discussed earlier suggests that the sudden and dramatic expansion of e-scooter rental companies has led to parts shortages and maintenance issues.  It mentions a specific example in Miami where the scooter's brakes failed.

Beyond that, scooter companies don't have control over other possible factors at play.  For example, damaged roads or sidewalks not designed nor equipped for e-scooter usage are a danger to e-scooter riders as well.

Waivers

The final and additional insult to injury is that folks who use e-scooters more likely than not have  agreed to terms and conditions not often clarified specifically in the app used to rent the e-scooter (but accessible to them via a hyperlink).  At least some of those terms and conditions (but I might wager all of them) include a waiver dismissing all legal rights to sue the e-scooter rental provider or requiring riders to submit to mandatory arbitration (and thereby foregoing the rider's right to a jury trial)—depending on what state the injuries occurred in.

So, with e-scooters perhaps there are plenty more dangers than might meet the eye.  Be safe, everyone! 

About the Author

Bradley Thayer

Brad Thayer is a partner at the Schauermann Thayer firm. Brad is licensed in both Oregon and Washington. He has been practicing law since 2015. He was presented the 2018 Rising Star Award by the Clark County Bar Association. Brad's practice focuses on automobile collision, motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian injury, dog bite, and myriad other types of injury and insurance cases. During his free time, Brad enjoys following the Portland Trail Blazers, playing basketball, going to concerts, and playing the drums. He especially enjoys hiking in the Columbia River Gorge and exploring other Northwest wonders.

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