In recent years, e-scooters have enjoyed an explosion in popularity in Chicago, with three major companies setting up shop in the city. Whereas e-scooters used to be an unusual site in large cities, they’re now as commonplace as bicycles and pedestrians, widely available for a quick rental. It’s easy to see the appeal: they’re cheap, easily accessible, and – let’s face it – pretty fun to drive.
However, this ubiquity has also led to increasing accidents with e-scooters, which can cause serious injuries for the operator as well as personal injury lawsuits to recoup financial and emotional damages. As such, it’s important for everyone to educate themselves about the dangers of e-scooters, as well as the possible avenues for redress should you or a loved one be the victim of a scooter accident.
Electric scooters are truly a different beast from other types of motor vehicles, as the laws surrounding them are a blend of legal precedents for cars and bicycles. For example, a scooter operator must have a license – something not required for a mechanical bike – but they’re limited to driving in bicycle lanes rather than directly on the motorway like a motorcycle. Like bicycles, they’re illegal to drive on highways, but like cars, they’re legally required to have lights and brakes.
The major laws surrounding rental scooters are that the operator must be over 18 and with a valid license and that they must abide by all traffic regulations just as a bike would. This means that they need to stop at stop signs and use hand signals to indicate where they’re going. And while it’s not required by the law, scooter riders should wear a helmet and reflective gear to protect themselves.
Even with all the precautions in the world, there’s no getting around the fact that, unlike drivers of cars and trucks, scooter riders have little physical protection against an accident. Since they aren’t encased by a metal shell, any accident will likely result in serious injuries, and the risk rises dramatically for those not wearing a helmet.
Causes for scooter accidents vary greatly, but some of the biggest dangers are cars swerving into the bike lane, drivers opening car doors without checking for e-scooters in the vicinity, and cars backing up onto scooters. Other reasons include brakes failing while going downhill, e-scooter batteries dying in the middle of a ride, and riders tripping or falling off the scooter.
All these can result in severe injury for the rider, especially one who is not protected by a helmet. Some common injuries include broken arms when the rider tries to brace themselves during a fall, whiplash from sudden stops, and head injuries from falling or being hit. Such injuries can cause long-term disability even with treatment, which is why it’s so important to receive medical treatment as soon as an accident occurs.
A scooter accident should be treated like a car crash, with the same procedures and preventative measures taken. This means that if you’ve been hit while riding a scooter, you should stay on the scene, call emergency medical services and the police, document the damages right away, and keep records of any medical treatments you undergo. These precautions can prevent serious long-term injuries, and they can also prove your case should you decide to pursue legal damages against the other party involved in the crash.
Similar to car or bike accidents, personal injury law allows those not at fault to sue for damages from the other party. It’s especially important to consider this for scooter drivers because you will not be carrying personal insurance for this vehicle, and therefore will have a hard time submitting a claim the same way that the driver of an insured car or truck could.
The laws around e-scooters and personal injury are difficult to understand for a layperson, so it’s vital that you seek legal representation for your personal injury claim. Some personal injury law firms in Chicago are well-versed in this new form of motor vehicle accident, and they can guide you through the process of seeking damages from the negligent party in the accident. Reaching out to a lawyer for your case can save you a great deal of heartache, as they’ll protect you against third parties that would like to diminish their own responsibility and prevent you from making a claim for legal compensation.
Renting an e-scooter can be an exhilarating and joyful experience, as well as cost-effective and environmentally conscious. However, it’s important to understand the risks of electric scooters, both legally and medically, and seek help right away if you’ve been in an accident. With a personal injury attorney at your side, you can start healing from a scooter accident and get back to what you love doing: conquering the open road.