COMMON SCOOTER ACCIDENT INJURIES
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Scooter Accident California Injury Attorney
Scooters have become very popular in California as part of a movement called “micromobility.” Micromobility is generally defined as the use of small, low speed vehicles that are electrical or human powered.
Large cities across the world face gridlock on their roadways, and studies indicate that almost half the traffic in the United States is caused by trips in automobiles of less than three (3) miles. Scooters are an effort to alleviate this gridlock and to provide an option other than an automobile for short trips.
In Los Angeles, both locals and tourists enjoy renting a scooter and zipping around the city. Scooter companies include Bird, Lime, Lyft, LINK, Spin, Jump, and Wheels.
Each company sets its own price, which typically includes a charge to unlock the scooter and then a fee for every mile or minute of usage of the scooter. To use any of these scooters, a rider must download an app to locate a scooter and then pay to unlock it.
While the goal of micromobility is admirable, the increased use of scooters has resulted in serious injuries and even death. A study published by UCLA in 2019 reported that the injury rate for scooter riders in parts of Los Angeles was higher than the national rates for riders of motorcycles, bicycles, cars, and pedestrians. In addition, those injured in scooter accidents often sustained fractures and head trauma.
Injuries were not limited to the scooter drivers but also included pedestrians who were hit by scooters or who tripped over scooters left on the ground.
LAWS REGARDING SCOOTERS
The state of California has established rules that scooter drivers must follow. Section 21235 of the Vehicle Code states the following:
The operator of a motorized scooter shall not do any of the following:
(a) Operate a motorized scooter unless it is equipped with a brake that will enable the operator to make a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
(b) Operate a motorized scooter on a highway with a speed limit in excess of 25 miles per hour unless the motorized scooter is operated within a Class II or Class IV bikeway, except that a local authority may, by ordinance or resolution, authorize the operation of a motorized scooter outside of a Class II or Class IV bikeway on a highway with a speed limit of up to 35 miles per hour. The 15 mile per hour maximum speed limit for the operation of a motorized scooter specified in Section 22411 applies to the operation of a motorized scooter on all highways, including bikeways, regardless of a higher speed limit applicable to the highway.
(c) Operate a motorized scooter without wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets the standards described in Section 21212, if the operator is under 18 years of age.
(d) Operate a motorized scooter without a valid driver’s license or instruction permit.
(e) Operate a motorized scooter with any passengers in addition to the operator.
(f) Operate a motorized scooter carrying any package, bundle, or article that prevents the operator from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.
(g) Operate a motorized scooter upon a sidewalk, except as may be necessary to enter or leave adjacent property.
(h) Operate a motorized scooter on the highway with the handlebars raised so that the operator must elevate his or her hands above the level of his or her shoulders in order to grasp the normal steering grip area.
(i) Leave a motorized scooter lying on its side on any sidewalk, or park a motorized scooter on a sidewalk in any other position, so that there is not an adequate path for pedestrian traffic.
(j) Attach the motorized scooter or himself or herself while on the roadway, by any means, to any other vehicle on the roadway.
In California, therefore, you must have a driver’s license or instruction permit to drive a scooter. If you are under the age of 18, you must wear a helmet. Also, no passengers are permitted and only the driver can be present on the scooter. The law also prohibits scooter drivers from operating the scooter on a sidewalk except as may be necessary to enter or leave adjacent property.
City of Los Angeles Rules
The City of Los Angeles has enacted additional rules regarding the operation of a scooter within city limits. These include the following:
- Users must be 18 years or older and must have a valid California driver’s license.
- Users are not required to wear a helmet on e-scooters, but helmet use is strongly recommended.
- Only one person at a time may ride an e-scooter.
- E-scooters cannot exceed 15 miles per hour.
- Users can ride on surface streets and are encouraged to ride in bike lanes where available. Under California state law, sidewalk riding is prohibited.
- The fine for sidewalk riding is $197.
When a user logs onto an app to rent a scooter, most scooter companies require the user to electronically sign a user agreement. As part of this agreement, the user agrees to waive many rights. Generally, these agreements attempt to waive any liability on the part of the scooter company. They also limit certain rights of the users. For example, they typically require users to waive their right to a jury trial and instead submit to binding arbitration.
If you are injured while driving a scooter and have a potential claim against the scooter company, the company will attempt to limit your claim based on the user agreement you signed. It may be possible to challenge the validity of the user agreement, but you will need an experienced attorney.
DAMAGES FOR SCOOTER ACCIDENTS
If you have been injured in a scooter accident, you may have a claim for damages. These claims could arise under several circumstances:
- If you were driving a scooter and were hit by a vehicle, you may have a claim against the driver of the vehicle.
- If you were a pedestrian and were struck by a scooter, you may have a claim against the driver of the scooter.
- If you were a pedestrian and tripped and fell over a scooter left on the ground, you may have a claim against the scooter company.
- If you were driving a scooter and injured due to a defect in the road, you may have a claim against the governmental entity responsible for maintaining the road.
- If you were driving a scooter and the scooter malfunctioned, you may have a claim against the manufacturer of the scooter.
Economic damages are ascertainable monetary amounts, including lost wages and medical bills. If injuries are severe, the person may not be able to return to work and therefore may be entitled to the loss of future wage-earning capacity for the remainder of the anticipated life expectancy. In addition, some people injured in a scooter accident require medical treatment for the rest of their lives. To calculate the amount that this long-term care will cost, our firm may retain a specialist to prepare what is known as a “life care plan,” which is a plan that sets out medical and medically related care that will be needed over the remainder of the injured person’s life.
Non-economic damages include items such as emotional distress, mental pain and suffering, physical pain and suffering, disfigurement, and humiliation.
In some situations, a scooter injury can result in death. In such a case, the deceased’s family members, or wrongful death beneficiaries, may be entitled to recover the medical bills as well as the funeral and burial costs. The deceased’s loved ones can also recover for their own damages due to the loss of love and society of the deceased person.
TIME LIMITS FOR FILING CLAIMS FOR SCOOTER ACCIDENTS
In California, the statute of limitations for filing most claims is two (2) years from the date of the injury. If, however, the claim is against a state or local governmental entity, the deadline to provide notice of your claim may be as little as six (6) months. For this reason, if you believe you or someone close to you may have a claim for damages, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
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