Motorized, rechargeable scooter share startups in California cities, including Bird Ride, Inc. and its competitors, LimeBike and Spin, have recently felt the ire of angry pedestrians, advocates, politicians, and law firms looking to file claims against them. Though the scooters serve as a great mode of transportation in more populated urban areas, the fact that many motorists may be uninsured or underinsured can be very problematic in the event of an accident.
A New Cause of Action
Due to an influx of phone calls from people who have been hurt while riding or hit by scooters, many firms have now gone so far as to place calls to action on their websites urging individuals to file scooter claims.
The rentable scooters, which began appearing a lot across the U.S. in the last year, can go up to 15 miles per hour, can be unlocked for $1 by using a smartphone, and cost 15 cents a minute to rent. Much like the bike start-ups that can now be found in many cities across the U.S., scooter investors believe that their multi-million dollar investments will serve to be extremely profitable, with the machines becoming a common part of most urban landscapes.
Despite California’s strict laws, which require that riders wear helmets and carry valid drivers licenses. In fact, if someone is caught on a scooter in California without a helmet, they may face a fine of $190 – should the law be enforced. Unfortunately however, the law seems to be ignored more often than not. As an attempt to help remedy the situation, Bird has been giving away helmets by mail to anyone who wants one – so far 22,000 have been sent out. It still remains unclear as to whether riders are not wearing helmets because of a lack of access or inconvenience. Additionally, riders must refrain from carrying passengers, leaving scooters on their sides, or from riding on sidewalks. Before an individual can even unlock a scooter, they must agree to follow the ‘rules of the road.’ However, by simply selecting ‘I agree,’ a customer can avoid reading any safety information – an omission that can certainly prove dangerous.
Distinguishing Scooters form ‘Motor Vehicles’
It is important to note that there are differences between scooters and motor vehicles. Since a scooter is not considered a ‘motor vehicle’ under the insurance code, motor vehicles are not required to carry motorist insurance covering collisions with motorized scooters.
Unlike motor vehicles, these motorized scooters have no formal parking spots and are encouraged to leave them on the sidewalk when they are done driving.
Due to a lack of enforcement, many cities have enacted their own ordinances in order to regulate these scooters. Earlier this year, the city of Santa Monica passed an emergency ordinance, which gave the city the ability to impound scooters that were found to be improperly parked. If you are injured in an accident with a scooter, consider meeting with a personal injury attorney. Contact the experienced attorneys at California Trial Law Group, PC for any of your other motor vehicle accident needs.
Posted in: Personal Injury