Frequently Asked Questions - When Electric Scooters Crash
Electric scooters have soared in popularity over the course of the past year. They are available to rent in popular travel spots all over the state of Florida. It’s not uncommon to see residents, tourists, and even commuters on their way to work utilizing the electric scooters available to rent. The increase in electric scooters, and the inexperience of many riders, has led to an increase in scooter crashes in Florida. Who is to blame for these collisions depends on the unique circumstances of each collision.
To properly understand who is at fault for a collision involving an electric scooter, it is important to understand the rights and responsibilities of electric scooter riders. In June of 2019 governor, Ron Desantis signed HB 453, and the bill allowed electric scooter rideshare companies, such as Uber, Jump, Bird, and Lime, to operate in Florida. The bill states that the operator of a motorized scooter or micro-mobility device has essentially the same rights and responsibilities as the rider of a bicycle. The bill stated that motorized scooters and micro-mobility devices do not need to satisfy registration, insurance, or licensing requirements. Additionally, the bill does not require the driver of a motorized scooter or micromobility device to have a driver's license. A micromobility device is defined as any motorized transportation device made available for private use by reservation through an online application, website, or software for point-to-point trips and which is not capable of traveling at a speed greater than 20 miles per hour on level ground. A motorized scooter is defined as any vehicle or micromobility device that is powered by a motor with or without a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, which is designed to travel on not more than three wheels, and which is not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 20 miles per hour on level ground. The electric scooters offered by rideshare companies, such as Lyft and Uber, qualify as micromobility devices or a motorized scooter as defined by the recent Florida statute.
As previously mentioned, electric scooter riders have the same responsibilities as bicycle riders. They are permitted on the same paths, sidewalks, and roadways. They are also expected to follow the same regulations as a bicyclist on these roadways. Electric scooter riders must obey traffic rules and regulations such as stopping for red traffic signals and stop signs, riding with the correct flow of traffic, and yielding the right of way to other drivers when entering the roadway.
If a collision occurs on the roadway with an electric scooter ride and a motor vehicle, the fault would be placed on whoever was not following the rules of the road. For instance, if an electric scooter rider has the right of way an intersection and a vehicle turns into the path of the electric scooter, the motor vehicle driver would be found at fault for the collision. If a vehicle is at fault for a collision with an electric scooter the scooter rider may pursue a claim against the driver of that vehicle. Additionally, the owner of the at-fault vehicle may also be liable for damages if the driver had the owner’s permission and consent to be driving the vehicle. Therefore, you would be able to pursue a claim through the at-fault party’s auto liability carrier.
Additionally, since motorized scooters and micromobility devices are treated as bicycles, you may also be able to pursue personal injury protection benefits. If you own a vehicle that is registered in Florida, your vehicle’s automobile insurance carrier should provide personal injury protection benefits. If you do not own a registered vehicle, you may qualify for personal injury protection benefits through a relative’s insurance carrier if they reside in the same household. Finally, if you do not own a registered and you do not live with a relative who has an active automobile insurance policy, you may qualify for personal injury protection benefits through the vehicle at fault for the collision. Personal injury protection benefits will pay 80% of medical expenses related to the collision up to $10,000.
As previously discussed, if you are hit by a motor vehicle while riding an electric scooter you can pursue a claim for damages through the at-fault vehicle’s automobile liability insurance carrier. If the vehicle does not have valid insurance or does not carry sufficient coverage to fully compensate you for your injury, you may also pursue an Uninsured Motorist claim. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage allows you to make a claim through your own insurance carrier for damages.
If you are struck by a scooter as a pedestrian it is less likely there will be applicable liability insurance coverage. The micromobility device statute does not require the user of an electric scooter to carry liability insurance. If you suffer injuries from a negligent electric scooter rider, however, you may still pursue a claim against the negligent rider.
It may also be possible to pursue a claim against the electric scooter rideshare company if the scooter is damaged or defective. For example, the scooter owner is responsible for maintaining the scooters in safe and working order. If the scooters are not properly inspected and repaired, it may be possible to seek damages against the scooter owner. Additionally, if a maintenance company is contracted to keep scooters in a safe and working condition but fails to do so, they may also be held liable for injuries that result from a damaged scooter. Finally, the manufacturer of an electric scooter may also be liable for damages if the injury results from a design or manufacturing flaw.
Electric scooters are relatively new in Florida and the rules and regulations are not uniform across the state. Some counties may have additional requirements of both riders and electric scooter rideshare companies. If you are injured while riding an electric scooter, or if you have been injured by someone negligently operating an electric scooter, and experienced attorney can help advise you of the options available to recover compensation for your injuries.