Rental Electric Scooter Accident Lawyer in DC
Washington, DC Injury Attorneys Serving the Metro Area
Washington, DC has a reputation for embracing new transportation programs and technology, which is why it was the first city in the U.S. and North America to introduce a bikeshare program. Over the years, new startups have expanded on the concept of bikesharing and ridesharing (i.e. Uber and Lyft) by offering similar services that allow customers to find, unlock, and rent electric scooters with the use of an app. Many in the city may welcome their popularity and convenience, but their novelty, higher speeds, and skyrocketing use by unsafe and negligent riders also make them serious hazards.
As rental e-scooters from companies like Bird, Lime, Skip, and a growing list of other startups become more common in the District, and expand into Maryland and Virginia, our legal team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is prepared to help victims whose affordable and purportedly fun rides don’t end as planned. We are also prepared to assist victims who are injured by negligent e-scooter riders. Backed by decades of combined experience and led by Board Certified Civil Trial Specialists, our attorneys have the resources to help victims protect their rights after suffering injuries and losses in all types of scooter accidents.
Why Clients Choose CSCS
- Over Half a Billion Dollars in Compensation Recovered for Clients
- Award-Winning & Nationally Recognized Personal Injury Lawyers
- Proven Results in Accident Cases Involving Bicyclists, Pedestrians & Motorists
- Contingency Fees – There Are No Fee Unless We Win
Do you have questions about your rental electric scooter accident and your legal rights? Call (202) 601-3379 or complete an online case evaluation form to set up a FREE consultation.
What Are the New E-Scooter Laws in Washington D.C.?
The D.C. Council’s newly approved bill will further regulate electric scooter services and set benchmarks to ensure their availability and proper signage throughout the nation’s capital. If you’re considering riding an e-scooter in Washington D.C., the following are rules from the Shared Fleet Devices Amendment Act of 2020 to provide the safest experience for you and the pedestrians and drivers with whom you’ll share the road:
- Users must yield to pedestrians.
- Users under 18 years of age must wear helmets.
- All users must be at least 16 years old to operate an e-scooter.
- Scooter riders must follow a speed limit of 10 mph.
- Users are not required to have a driver’s license.
- Tampering with devices would result in a $125 fine.
- Riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs would result in a $150 fine.
- E-scooter users may not ride on sidewalks in the Central Business District, which covers the U.S. Capitol grounds and the area from the National Mall to Massachusetts Avenue.
- Users may ride on sidewalks outside of the Central Business District, including bike lanes and roads with low speed limits.
- Riders must opt for protected bike lanes if both available and safe for e-scooters.
- Riders must not operate an e-scooter with a passenger or any package that prevents users from keeping both hands on the handlebars.
- E-scooters are considered personal mobility devices, which means users are not required to carry insurance.
- E-scooter and bicycle operations may only grow to a maximum of 20,000 devices by October 2023.
- Users must use a locking mechanism on the device in designated areas when not in use starting October 2021.
In Washington D.C., electric bicycles prompted legislation as early as 2012. Electric bikers follow similar restrictions and possess similar advantages as e-scooter users. For example, e-bikes also carry no licensing or insurance requirements for users because they are classified as a pedaled device propelled by a motor.
In the United States, the US2002 Federal Law merely classifies e-bikes as having motor power below 750W and topping speeds of less than 20 mph. No current legislation exists to govern electric scooters specifically. Instead, laws governing e-bikes have generally applied to e-scooters as well. This may evolve as rental e-scooter accident-related injuries in Washington DC become more prevalent.
What Causes Different Types of Electric Scooter Accidents?
E-scooters are considered relatively safe when used according to safety regulations and guidelines. By law, rental companies are required to provide an educational video guiding users to follow traffic laws, encourage helmet use, effectively use the device, and engage in legal parking. However, injuries and fatalities from e-scooter accidents are not uncommon and stem from both the usage errors and mechanical problems listed below.
Improperly Parked Electric Scooters
E-scooters pose serious injury risks and are considered illegally parked under the law if they impede building access or obstruct walkways.
- Scooters obstructing pedestrian walkways
- Devices restricting access to private property and driveways
- Scooters blocking handicap-accessible ramps or parking spots
- Devices abandoned on sidewalks despite available corrals
Unsafe Riding Behaviors on Electric Scooters
E-scooter riders who engage in negligent or risky behaviors risk not only personal injury but also collisions with pedestrians and motorists.
- More than one person riding a single scooter
- Wearing headsets, headphones, or earphones while riding
- Riding under the influence of alcohol or any drug
- Children under 16 years of age using e-scooters
- Using excessive speed or weaving among walkers on crowded sidewalks
Poorly Maintained Electric Scooters
E-scooter rental companies are required to operate a 24-hour toll-free customer service number for users to report devices that appear poorly maintained or inoperable as device malfunctions contribute to serious injuries.
- Malfunctioning audible pedestrian alert signal
- Brake failure, particularly while riding downhill
- E-scooters that shut off without warning due to battery power or electrical boundaries
- Loosening or detached handlebars or posts
- Broken e-scooter decks
- Sticking throttles
Motorist and Pedestrian Collisions
The most recent iteration of the Electric Mobility Devices Amendment Act of 2019 clarifies that e-scooters should only use protected bike lanes if both available and safe because motorist and pedestrian collisions result in the most serious e-scooter injuries.
- Motorists colliding with scooters on roadways
- Drivers crashing into pedestrians when swerving to avoid scooters
- Scooters hitting pedestrians on walkways
What Are Common Types of Scooter Accident Injuries?
According to JAMA Surgery, less than 5% of scooter riders wear helmets, leading to users experiencing twice the rate of head injuries as bicyclists. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that common serious injuries from e-scooters include:
- Traumatic brain injury, including concussions
- Lacerations and abrasions
- Nerve, tendon, and ligament injuries
- Bone fractures on upper and lower limbs
- Severe bleeding
- Sustained organ damage
Although motorized scooter riders suffer more frequent injuries per mile, bicyclists are still three times as likely as scooter riders to be hit in an auto accident. This is most likely attributed to bicyclists’ more common use of roadways.
Where Do Most E-Scooter Accidents Occur in Washington, D.C.?
In the nation’s capital, a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that sidewalks were the most common location for e-scooter accident injuries in DC, followed by roadways and bicycle lanes, respectively.
The following local emergency department data from George Washington University Medical Center highlights the dangers of sidewalk riding:
- Nearly 3 out of 5 hospitalized scooter riders were injured riding on the sidewalk.
- One out of 5 were injured riding in a bike lane or on a trail.
- Six percent of injured study participants were pedestrians or bicyclists who tripped over scooters on sidewalks.
The unavailability of bike lanes and exposure to slow-moving pedestrians is an issue specific to popular local tourist sites such as the National Mall.
Do I Need Insurance Coverage to Ride a Scooter?
E-scooter riders are not required to carry insurance. While the large rental companies under which they ride must carry liability insurance to cover the companies’ negligence, these polices do not cover the riders and riders are not guaranteed coverage. In fact, , the digital rental agreement that riders are required to sign generally relieves the companies of liability. Still, one can recover against the e-scooter rental companies and their insurance companies, if the e-scooter company is found negligent, such as failing to safely maintain their scooters.
The largest scooter companies, Bird and Lime, offer versions of liability coverage. Bird insures riders for losses resulting from faulty Bird scooters. At the same time, Lime provides $1 million in liability coverage for “covered claims,” noting that every claim is different, and no claim can be deemed covered before a complete investigation is conducted. This type of insurance does not cover the rider who happens to cause an accident as a result of his or her own fault or negligence.
Before you decide to rent or ride a scooter, you should understand the insurance implications and know whether you are covered by the following types of policies.
Personal or Private Health Insurance
After an e-scooter accident, your personal health insurance can help cover your individual medical expenses, but individual medical insurance does not extend to others if you were at fault. Medical insurance also fails to cover property damages and non-medical losses. This gap in coverage can result in significant financial liability.
Auto Insurance Policy
Personal auto policies exclude liability coverage for e-scooters because, by definition, “motor vehicles” may not have fewer than four wheels. Additionally, some motorcycle insurance policies may also exclude coverage for e-scooters because they require users to stand. On the other hand, if an at-fault motorist collides with a scooter rider because of their own negligence, the driver’s auto liability policy will cover medical and property damages.
Homeowners or Renter’s Insurance
Standard homeowners policies will typically exclude liabilities resulting from the use of a motorized vehicle, usually defined as any self-propelled vehicle. Exceptions often include motorized vehicles used to maintain your property (i.e. a riding lawnmower) or those used to assist a handicap.
Personal liability umbrella insurance
If you have a homeowners or renter’s insurance policy, personal liability umbrella policies (PLUP) can extend extra protection by covering more types of accidents and offering higher limits. These policies can also provide coverage for liabilities excluded from the underlying insurance policies, potentially including your choice to rent or own an electric scooter. While it would likely cover other people’s property damages and medical bills after an e-scooter accident in DC, it would not cover your personal medical bills.
The future of insuring e-scooter riders is likely to include on-demand or per-ride insurance that targets riders and rental providers. Insurance startup, Voom, has begun charging on a per-trip basis using a user’s phone GPS and accelerometer to track accidents.
What Are the Top 5 Safety Tips for Electric Scooter Riders?
Although it’s uncertain how safe scooters are compared to other forms of transportation, one thing is clear: Many of the injuries e-scooting enthusiasts suffer are entirely preventable with the following precautions.
- Wear a helmet. In a study by the University of California Los Angeles, researchers found that head injuries accounted for nearly one-third of patients admitted into hospitals from e-scooter accidents. Choose to wear a helmet that meets bike safety standards to protect yourself against injury.
- Use bike lanes. Bike lanes are not just the preferred location for e-scooter riders. They’re also the safest. The D.C. Council strongly encourages riders to choose bike lanes over sidewalks when available to avoid pedestrian accidents.
- Follow traffic laws. Riding an electric scooter means abiding by the same laws as other road vehicles. This includes stopping at traffic lights and stop signs, obeying the city speed limit for e-scooters, and yielding to pedestrians.
- Conduct a pre-ride safety check. Before stepping on board, do a visual inspection for signs of damage to wheels, lights, and batteries. At the start, test the brakes and throttle, and if you detect any issues, contact customer service to get another scooter.
- Curb your scooter. Keep other riders safe and be considerate of pedestrians — especially those with disabilities who may find it difficult to maneuver around scooters scattered on a sidewalk. While regulations that go into effect in 2021 will mandate locking devices to racks and poles, it is best practice to leave the scooter standing up and out of the way of oncoming traffic in sidewalks, crosswalks, bus stops, driveways, and service ramps at the end of a ride.
Learn More About E-Scooter Lawsuits
Injuries arising from e-scooters have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as the legal response to e-scooter injuries is still evolving. If you have suffered an e-scooter injury, you will maximize your potential compensation by working with an experienced lawyer. Contact our firm online or call (202) 788-0418 for a FREE consultation.
Our Firm Handles All Types of Accident Cases Involving E-Scooters
Personal injury law is a legal area in which victims harmed by the negligent and wrongful acts of others can bring forth their claims and hold at-fault parties financially responsible for the damages they cause. This includes economic and non-economic damages like medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering, which can quickly pile up and create profound setbacks for victims and their families.
While civil personal injury lawsuits provide a pathway to compensation, some challenges can stand in the way of justice. These include not only issues involving powerful insurance companies and corporations with the deep pockets needed to fight claims, deny liability and underpay or defeat victims, but also complexities created by just how new these electric scooter companies and their services are. By working with a proven team of attorneys, victims can navigate these hurdles and pursue the financial recoveries they deserve.
Our firm handles all types of accident cases involving electric scooters, including:
- Scooter riders injured in car accidents involving negligent drivers
- Riders harmed by negligent pedestrians or property owners
- Accidents involving commercial trucks or buses (public and government-operated)
- Pedestrians or bicyclists struck by scooter riders
- Defective products, poorly maintained, or malfunctioning rental scooters
- Accidents caused by abandoned scooters, including trip and fall accidents
- Scooter riders injured as a result of roadway defects
Call Our Washington DC Scooter Accident Lawyers Today
After a scooter accident in Washington D.C., you may have sustained serious injuries. When this occurs, you need a proven personal injury law firm on your side with the resources required to tackle these complex cases.
At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., we can help you obtain full compensation for your injuries and are here to help 24/7. We fully support our clients through tough times and fight aggressively on their behalf.
For more information about pursuing a claim, call a DC scooter accident attorney today at (202) 788-0418 or contact us here to receive a free case consultation.