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Should Dallas Prepare for Rental Scooter Accidents and Litigation?

36763952_10100840680796264_2022825649617502208_o-566x1024Author: Matt Howerton, Published: 07/10/18, originally from the WFAA

DALLAS — As rental scooters begin to share the streets with bikes, cars, and buses in Dallas, a California attorney already handling over a dozen cases involving the two-wheeled transportation says to get ready for accidents to start piling up.

At the end of last month, council members from the City of Dallas passed regulations for bike share companies that many in the city have been clamoring for.

They also gave the green light to a six-month trial run for electric rental scooters—which can travel up to 15 mph after the rider pays a fee.

The rules are simple, you can’t ride on sidewalks in the Central Business District (which includes Deep Ellum and Downtown Dallas), and you can’t ride on a street where the speed limit is over 35 mph.

Companies like LimeBike and Bird both dumped hundreds of scooters almost immediately after everything went through.

They must meet permit requirements, and if complaints are made to 311 about scooter litter in right of ways—they must collect them.

Council members plan to reevaluate the scooters after the six-month run is over.

The scooters have already arrived in many cities across the U.S., and have been met with both warm and critical welcomes.

Let’s look at California, they’re very common in areas like Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

But videos are already starting to pop up on YouTube of riders getting into accidents.

In Santa Monica, a city bus nearly ran over a rider when he crashed and rolled into the bus’s lane. Footage from the bus’s surveillance system captured the heart-stopping incident.

GROWING ACCIDENTS IN L.A.

In Beverly Hills, a personal injury attorney said he’s currently handling at least 24 cases involving rental scooters.

It was added that two to five calls per day are receive from people who were involved in accidents and want to lawyer up.

Most of the time people report to him that their scooter malfunctioned, accelerating and not stopping, causing the rider to crash. Riders have also reported brakes simply not working.

Many clients being represented are involved in accidents with cars.

It is reported many accidents happen while crossing an intersection, and someone hit them, or riders have been hit at a stop sign, or someone is at a red light not paying attention and the rider gets hit.

Figuring out who’s liable and who pays up can be an insurance nightmare. It is new territory for attorneys and insurance companies, much like Uber and Lyft were.

Bird and LimeBike are required to have at least $500,000 per accident in liability coverage in the City of Dallas, but the companies can only be held liable if it can proven the cause of an accident was due to scooter malfunction.

It has been reported that several cases involve riders who injured themselves after crossing over poorly maintained streets or sidewalks.

Riders in Dallas won’t be able to sue the city or county when it comes to situations like that thanks to sovereign immunity.

However, a rider that gets into an accident near a construction zone with insufficient signage or warning could sue the contractor behind the job.

A PROBLEM FOR BIG D?

Possibly. It’s only a matter of time before riders start calling personal injury offices with a host of issues no one has even thought about.

In cases where riders get into an accident with a car and they’re not at fault, things are pretty simple because the driver’s insurance (if they have any) should take care of things.

But if a rider causes an accident or is hurt by their own negligence, they may not have any coverage at all.

To put it simply, car insurance will not cover you on a scooter if you’re at fault.

The LA Times recently wrote about a woman who broke her arm on a rental scooter—and fell off because she was avoiding an accident.

In that article, the Times reported that her health insurance and car insurance pointed fingers about who would cover what.

Not to mention, even though Bird and Lime Bike encourage helmets– there are no laws in Dallas requiring them for electric scooters. The only helmet ordinance in place is for cycling, and it only impacts minors.

Council Member Phil Kingston said the city will revisit the scooters by the end of the year. If there are issues, he said they will be addressed before moving any further.

However, as a rider, it’s good to know any consequences before hopping on.

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