Frequently Asked Questions - What To Do If I Am Involved in an Electric Scooter Accident?
Electric scooters, also known as e-scooters, are a relatively new category in our mass transportation system, yet they have become very popular during the past 5 years. As more companies emerge to sell and rent these scooters to the public, we see an increasing number of scooters on our streets. They essentially have provided an option to the public for an easier and more convenient way to travel short distances in cities across the country. With over one hundred cities in the United States having e-scooters, the National Association of City Transportation reported Americans have taken nearly forty million trips on them.
Increasingly, we see electric scooters driven by commuters, tourists, students, and children in almost every city and the local community. Though they seem harmless at first glance when being operated on public streets, e-scooters are essentially high-speed bicycles with significantly less control and safety than bicycles, and with increasing numbers of electric scooters comes greater potential for misuse and accidents, and every day brings serious injuries and death to not only scooter riders, but also to pedestrians, bicyclists, and occupants of motor vehicles. In fact, research compiled on this newly emerging industry has documented thousands of electric scooter accidents in just the past few years, and the number is increasing exponentially as more vendors emerge in the market. While scooters can be a useful model of transportation for some and a fun recreational diversion, there is little regulation of scooters in terms of maintenance and rider safety. In fact, there are no requirements or standards for individuals to purchase or rent a scooter, and for that reason, some cities consider e-scooters a public nuisance and have banned them.
Because e-scooter companies take no steps to determine if a potential rider has even minimal skills, we see more and more accidents with serious injuries and death every day. If you suffer injuries due to a scooter accident, whether you are the rider, if you were struck by a scooter while in a motor vehicle, if you were bicycling and involved in a collision with a scooter, or if you were a pedestrian struck by a scooter, you have important rights that allow you to obtain money compensation to make you whole for your injuries, medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering. There are also situations where e-scooters malfunction or road hazards cause e-scooters to crash, and you have the same rights to compensation in those scenarios as well.
If you are injured in any scenario involving an e-scooter, you should first assess your physical condition and that of others involved in the accident. Next, call 911 to report the crash and provide the information they require. Then find a safe location and wait until the police arrive at the scene. Never discuss details of the incident with other drivers, passengers or pedestrians, as your words can and will be used against you in a claim for damages. If possible, you should photograph any physical damage to any of the vehicles, and if you have visible injuries you should document them by taking photographs as soon as possible. Finally, if you have insurance, call your insurance carrier to notify them of the crash.
Next, advise the police officer of your injuries, regardless of the degree of injury, so the officer can document that and call for medical assistance if needed. When speaking to medical personnel, be sure to describe all complaints, even minor issues, as minor complaints often progress into more serious conditions. If you forego emergency medical attention at the scene, you should seek medical attention to treat and document your injuries as soon as practicable. Many individuals who sustain injuries are entitled to compensation through their own insurance or through a family member’s personal injury protection insurance (PIP) which pays up to $10,000 for medical treatment and lost wages. Importantly, Florida law requires a determination within 14 days by a medical professional certifying you sustained an “emergency medical condition” (EMC). If that is not completed within 14 days, the insurance company can reduce payments for medical care and lost wages.
Moving forward, you should carefully document your activities and photograph your injuries over time. Keep accurate records of any expenses related to the accident you pay out of pocket, as many of those expenses are reimbursable through your claim for damages.
It is critical to retain an experienced trial attorney specializing in personal injury. Experienced personal injury attorneys understand the rules and strict time limits regarding insurance, they understand the importance of preserving evidence at the accident scene, and they realize witnesses have short memories. Further, witnesses commonly move to new locales and over time forget details like skid marks, road damage, and vehicle speeds. To protect this valuable information, attorneys will immediately hire investigators to find witnesses, take statements, and preserve testimony for your claim.
In choosing an attorney, look at their years of experience, make sure they specialize in personal injury litigation and be certain they are trial attorneys. In Florida, you can retain highly qualified trial attorneys with absolutely no risk, as Florida attorneys handle injury cases on contingency, meaning you are not obligated to pay any fees unless the attorney recovers money for you.
Be aware that following the accident, insurance adjusters may contact you. If you retained an attorney, immediately advise the insurance company representative of your attorney’s contact information and direct all future contact to your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, be sure to retain an attorney before discussing your claim with insurance company representatives. Remember, the only purpose of an insurance company is to maximize profit, and they accomplish this by simply collecting more money in premiums than they pay out in claims. As such, most insurance carriers quickly find injured accident victims and attempt settlement for less than the full value before victims have consulted an attorney and understand their rights. Sadly, once an unknowing accident victim accepts one of these inadequate settlements, they are legally prohibited from further pursuing their claim. The best way to avoid these improper insurance company tactics is by retaining an experienced attorney as soon as possible following the accident.