Posted on behalf of Rizk Law on Sep 27, 2018 in Auto Accident

Sure, e-scooters may make personal transportation more convenient in our traffic-heavy city.  But how safe are e-Scooters, really??

In the weeks since scooter roll-out, already many have been hurt while riding these devices. Injuries should be of no surprise.  E-scooter riders share narrow bike lanes with bicyclists and the same risks of travel in those lanes, namely collisions with other motorists.

But e-scooter riders pose additional risks.  For example, pedestrians walking on sidewalks face injury from e-scooter riders improperly using the sidewalks.  A pedestrian could also trip over e-scooters discarded on walking paths. Or, the e-scooter itself may malfunction or fall apart.  Anyone of these situations could result in serious injury.

If you are injured in an e-scooter incident, get to a safe place where a second impact is unlikely and out of harm’s way.  Quickly document (photograph/video) the scene and the people and vehicles involved if able. Get witness information, and call for emergency medical assistance. Then focus on getting the medical treatment you need. Don’t give statements to opposing insurance representatives before consulting with a lawyer experienced in resolving transportation injury crashes.

Who is Liable for an Accident Caused by an E-Scooter?

E-scooters are new the Northwest and disputes involving them have not been tested in court.  We anticipate that insurance companies will capitalize on this uncertainty by denying liability when they can.  Let’s consider who could be held accountable for scooter injuries to innocent people.

Potentially Liable Parties Include:

  • The e-scooter companies themselves.  We anticipate all of the companies (Bird, Lime, etc.) to deny liability and attempt to blame everyone else involved in the crash.  They could potentially say the rider themselves is at fault, or the pedestrian was careless to name a few situations. The e-scooter companies are required by law to carry their own liability, bodily injury, and property damage insurance policies.
  • The City could also be potentially liable for not making the bike lanes safe for e-scooters to travel on, among other things.
  • If you are an e-scooter rider obeying the rules applicable to e-scooters and are struck by a vehicle, the bad (at fault) driver could be held liable.  Unless you are covered by your own auto insurance Personal Injury Protection policy, you will need to make a claim for PIP medical benefits with the bad driver’s auto insurance policy.
  •  If you are a pedestrian or are an operator of a car and are injured through the fault of an e-scooter rider, the e-scooter rider himself could be held personally liable. REALITY CHECK: A problem arises when the rider cannot afford to pay the claims they are found to be responsible for because e-scooter riders are not required to carry their own liability insurance.

Laws Regarding E-Scooters

 Although the State of Oregon has not passed any laws regarding e-scooters, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has enacted specific safety requirements and compliance rules for e-scooter companies.  However, there is very little protection offered to the citizens of Oregon that might be harmed by the use of e-scooters. The City of Portland seems to have allowed these companies to operate within the city without any clue or example to point to as to who will ultimately be held responsible in the event of an injury.

The e-scooter companies have only been allowed to operate in Portland thus far on temporary permits. The city is essentially acknowledging that they do not yet know whether e-scooters are a good idea for the city in the long-term, yet they have allowed the companies to operate here to test things out. It will be a sad reality for someone seriously hurt by an e-scooter when they realize their injuries were the result of a city-wide experiment.  One could argue that the city and possibly the state has exposed itself to liability should an accident occur. If you have been injured in an accident involving an e-scooter, it’s important to seek the advice of an attorney.

Seek Professional Help If Injured

 As a personal injury law firm, we expect to begin receiving questions from people injured by e-scooters, either due to riding them or being struck by them in the road or on a sidewalk.  Due to the e-scooter industry being so new to Oregon, many questions may remain unanswered for the time being. This area of the law is new and complex; if someone is involved in an accident where an e-scooter is involved, it is important to seek the help of a professional who can help navigate the complexities.

Contact Rizklaw at 503.245.5677, or online, to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

Written By: Mathew Riberdy

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