Articles Posted in Scooter Accidents

Electric scooters have popped up in cities across the U.S. over the past few years. Several electric scooter rental companies operate in Maryland. However, concerns and confusion over electric scooter laws, insurance policies, and liability have also been flagged. These issues may affect those who have been injured in Maryland scooter accidents in the state.

A Consumer Reports survey found that electric scooter riders were confused about whether to ride e-scooters on streets or on sidewalks, and 27 percent were not sure of the traffic laws they should follow. Although generally riders are supposed to ride in the street, many streets are not built to accommodate them, and it can be dangerous. There is also a question of whether scooters are covered under the insurance policies of the rider and/or the injured person. Electric scooters typically are not covered under auto insurance policies, though they may be able to be added to auto policies or other insurance policies. Maryland enacted MD HB748 in April 2019, establishing that a low-speed electric scooter is considered equivalent to a bicycle under the Maryland Vehicle Law. The scooter must meet the state’s definition, including only being capable of operating at a speed of up to 20 miles per hour.

Severe Eye Injuries Seen in E-Scooter Emergency Rooms Visits

A small study from the University of California San Diego reviewed instances of facial injuries caused by electronic scooter accidents over the course of a year. According to one news source, the rates of hospitalization and surgery were high among such cases. The researchers involved in the study were surprised by “both the severity and incidence of the injuries.” After an e-scooter accident, over 90% of the patients had facial fractures, and 24% needed surgery. About 75% of the patients required to be hospitalized. About 20% had intracranial hemorrhage, or bleeding beneath the skull. Injuries included eyelid lacerations and retinal hemorrhage. None of the patients had been wearing helmets.

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In 2018, U.S. electric scooter riders took 38.5 million trips on shared scooters, according to the National Association of City Transportation officials. As electric scooters become more prevalent in cities in Maryland and across the country, accidents involving electric scooters are also becoming more common. Riders can be injured, and can also hurt others while riding the scooters. In the event of an injury or even a death in a Maryland electric scooter accident, more people are questioning whether electric scooters are covered under their insurance policies.

Electric scooters rental companies usually place liability on riders in their rental agreements or carve out coverage for specific instances. Generally, electric scooters are not covered under an auto insurance policy. Electric scooters also are not generally covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy. Some insurance policies may allow an insured to add coverage for an electric scooter onto their auto, homeowner’s, or renter’s insurance policy.

At Least 29 Killed in Electric Scooter Accidents Since 2018

The duty to properly maintain a Maryland roadway generally rests with the city, county or state government office that owns and controls the roadway. State and local governments in Maryland are responsible for keeping their roads in good repair and in a reasonably safe condition for travel by Maryland motorcycle riders as well as others.

The government entity tasked with maintaining a roadway may fail to do so, causing the roadway to be unsafe for drivers and pedestrians. In these circumstances, an injured person can sue the government for the government’s failure to maintain roads in safe condition. In claims against local governments in Maryland, the government is generally immune from tort liability when engaging in functions of a “governmental” nature, but not when engaged in functions of a “proprietary” or “private” nature.

Maryland courts have long held that local municipalities are not immune from lawsuits arising out of the maintenance of public streets and highways, and that they have a duty to maintain them in a reasonably safe condition. Local governments may be held liable for injuries caused by a dangerous condition in the road caused by the government’s negligence. In claims against the state government, under the Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA) the state expressly waives immunity in some circumstances. One such circumstance is in an action for damages caused by a defective, unsafe, or dangerous condition of a street, sidewalk, alley, or highway controlled and owned by the State, if constructive or actual notice of the condition existed.

Earlier this year, the City of Baltimore approved four companies to operate scooter shares in the city: Lime, Jump, Spin, and Bolt. According to a news report at the time, the city selected these four companies out of the seven companies that applied for permits. Scooter shares are growing in popularity in Maryland and across the United States, especially in urban settings. Currently, scooter shares are located in well over 100 cities across the country. However, some are concerned that the presence of a scooter-share will drastically increase the number of Maryland scooter accidents.

A scooter share is a service that provides users the ability to rent an electric scooter on a short-term basis. While the concept is somewhat similar to bike shares in that users can pick up and drop off the scooters at whatever location is convenient for them, scooter shares are unique in that they are dockless. This means that they can be left anywhere, and users can open up the company’s app to locate the nearest scooter. The companies pay individuals to locate and charge scooters at their homes or businesses, keeping overhead costs low.

By allowing four scooter-share companies to operate, Baltimore seemingly embraces the scooter-share concept. To be sure, electric scooters provide a convenient way for many commuters and tourists to get around. They also do little to contribute to traffic and pollution, and are seen by many as an excellent supplement to public transit for those not within walking distance of a bus stop or train station. However, scooter shares also present some valid concerns.

Although most Mayland drunk driving accidents involve cars, trucks, and motorcycles, they can also occur in other contexts. For example, as the use of electric scooters and electric bikes continues to rise, reports of incidents involving alcohol are on the rise as well. Many people use these convenient modes of transportation to get around cities, but too often fail to use proper signals or wear a helmet. The lack of safety precautions and general rider inexperience raises concerns, particularly as e-scooter accidents involving alcohol use increase.

These days, electric scooters are increasingly being used throughout the U.S. Tourists and commuters use the scooters as a cheap way to get around, particularly in cities. Yet with this increased use, comes increased risks. A recent study found a rise in electric scooters accidents tied to alcohol. Many scooter riders also weren’t wearing helmets when they crashed.

The study investigated 103 incidents of people who were admitted to major trauma centers due to a scooter accident. About 42 percent of the people had moderate to severe injuries. Most injuries included fractures to the legs, ankles, forearms, collarbone, and shoulder blades. Half of those with fractures required surgery. There also were injuries to necks, kidneys, and spleens. Ninety-eight percent of people were not wearing helmets at the time of these incidents.

Over the past few years, most major cities across the country have seen at least one scooter share company pop up. As the popularity of electric scooters explodes across the United States, many have raised a concern that scooter shares present an unjustifiable risk, both to those renting the scooters as well as other motorists and pedestrians. Indeed, since the inception of scooter shares in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., there have been dozens of serious Maryland scooter accidents.

An electric scooter is a relatively simple machine, consisting primarily of a motor attached to a frame that is powered by an electric battery. Electric scooters have throttle and brake mechanisms, similar to motorcycles, that allow users to control the speed of the scooter. A series of wires connects the motor to either the front or rear wheel of the scooter, providing the power that spins the wheel. Most electric scooters top out at around 20 miles per hour; however, most manufacturers recommend users do not travel over 15 miles per hour.

While scooters are not difficult to ride, there is a bit of a learning curve, especially for those who are not familiar with riding a motorcycle. Scooter share companies do not require users to exhibit any sort of riding proficiency to rent a scooter. Given the prevalence, low-cost, and ease of scooter shares, many users who are unfamiliar with how to ride a scooter end up putting themselves and others at risk when taking the scooters on the road or sidewalk.

Over the past fifteen years, bike shares have exploded in popularity, with nearly 100,000 bikes in operation at the end of 2017. In the wake of the success enjoyed by bike shares, companies started opening up scooter shares, which takes the concept of the bike share to a new level. Scooter shares enable commuters to pick up an electric scooter at any number of docks across the city and return the scooter to whichever dock is most convenient for them. Currently, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. each have scooter share programs.

Despite the popularity of scooter shares among users, there is also widespread concern that scooter shares are placing potentially dangerous vehicles in the hands of inexperienced riders. Indeed, in the wake of dozens of recent reports detailing scooter accidents resulting in serious injury or death, Washington, D.C. lawmakers are considering banning scooter shares, or at least strictly regulating them.

One recent accident involved two people who suffered serious injuries after allegedly running a red light. According to a local news report, a man and woman were riding on the same scooter when the driver ran a red light and crashed into an SUV. The SUV, having a green signal, had the right-of-way. Both people on the scooter suffered serious injuries, but are expected to recover. The city’s police chief noted that, while there did not appear to be a law against two riders sharing a scooter, it would seem to be an obvious safety issue. He also reminded riders that electric scooters are not toys and are potentially dangerous vehicles that must follow the posted traffic rules at all times.

As E-scooters continue to grow in popularity across the country, more and more cities are embracing scooter-shares. Currently, both Washington, D.C. and Baltimore have scooter share programs. A scooter share operates on the same model as bike shares, and allows for users to rent scooters at various docks around the city on a short-term basis and then return the scooters to any other dock. Scooter shares are popular among commuters who do not own a car and have a long commute that may not be comfortable on a bicycle.

Scooter shares, however, present some concerning problems. According to a recent news report, rider irresponsibility combined with poor regulations and lax oversight has created a dangerous situation in which both those who operate the scooters, as well as other motorists, are at risk. Indeed, according to a recent report by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are approximately 20 injuries per 100,000 scooter trips, which is a remarkably high number. Even more startling is the fact that over half of those injuries are serious head injuries. Below are a few interesting statistics regarding e-scooter accidents:

  • In Austin, Texas, there were 193 emergency-room visits due to scooter accidents in the three months following the opening of a scooter share.

Over the past couple of years, scooter-share companies have popped up in cities across the United States. A scooter-share is based on the popular dockless bike-share concept, in which someone can rent a bicycle for an hourly fee and then click a button on their phone when they are done using the scooter. Part of the appeal is that renters can locate a scooter on their phone through a GPS device that is installed on the scooter. This also allows users to leave the scooter anywhere they want.

While scooters are not particularly difficult to ride, there is certainly the potential for danger in allowing a large number of scooters to share the already crowded roads in Baltimore. Of course, scooter use is regulated, and riders are subject to a 15 mph speed limit on roads with a speed limit under 30 mph. On larger roads with a higher speed limit, scooters are permitted to drive on the sidewalk, but must travel below six mph. This also raises the concern of scooter-pedestrian accidents.

Not surprisingly, since the inception of the scooter-share program in Baltimore, there has been an increase in the number of Maryland scooter accidents. According to a recent news report, Baltimore lawmakers have had enough of these scooter accidents, many of which have been linked to uninitiated operators traveling at unsafe speeds.

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Maryland accident victims can face substantial medical expenses, as well as other economic and non-economic challenges. Victims must show that a defendant acted negligently by acting or failing to act in a certain way. A plaintiff has to prove the following elements to establish a negligence claim: the defendant had a legal duty to use due care toward the plaintiff; the defendant failed to meet that duty; the plaintiff suffered damages, and the defendant’s failure to meet the duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

The driver of a motor vehicle has a duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. Every driver must use the degree of care that a person of ordinary prudence would exercise under similar circumstances. The care expected under the circumstances can vary depending on the type of the vehicle, weather conditions, and the time of day. A driver also must exercise reasonable care when presented with an emergency. Examples of negligent conduct are failing to yield at an intersection, failing to pay attention to the road, speeding, and tailgating.

Scooter Accident Reports Rising as Electric Scooter Rentals Increase

According to one news source, rental scooter accidents are becoming more common throughout the country. In Dallas earlier this year, the city passed regulations allowing bike share companies to rent motorized scooters to customers in a six-month pilot program. The scooters can travel up to 15 mph. The scooter share companies rolled out hundreds of scooters soon after the regulations were passed. Dallas estimates there are about 6,000 e-scooters in the city now.

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