It’s hard to miss the colorful bikes and scooters that have been popping up throughout Dallas. It would appear to be a great concept: accessible, affordable, ‘greener’ urban transportation. But what happens when things take a turn for the worse? No one plans on having an accident, but they inevitably do. Who is liable in a scooter accident – the corporation or the consumer?
Several weeks after the e-scooters made their debut in Dallas, Uptown resident Kelley Mitchum underestimated the speed at which she was traveling and ended up in a severe crash. Upon turning a corner too quickly, she was launched headfirst into McKinney Avenue’s trolley tracks. The $1.38 rental resulted in a hefty emergency room bill, treating her two black eyes, scraped arms and knees, and a laceration in her forehead which required stitches.
Cases like Mitchum’s are bound to become more frequent in Dallas’ busy urban landscape, as was the case of a local Dallas musician in early August.
Before you ride, make sure to read the terms and conditions before you sign on the dotted line – or in this case provide a digital signature on the app. When a client signs the company’s user agreement, this states that the client is aware of who is at fault in case something goes wrong. These contracts have been carefully written to protect the company and ensure their limited liability. In more cases than not, the blame falls to the rider.
If you’ve tried out a Lime scooter yourself, you’re aware that you must download the app before operating. In the app, the user must agree to their arbitration agreement, forgoing the right to go to court and have a dispute heard by a judge or jury, while also waiving rights to join a class action lawsuit.
In the case of Lime specifically, their agreement states that the user is legally allowed to ride, will only ride in designated riding areas (not private property), and that the user is “familiar with the operation of the product, and are reasonably competent and physically fit to use the product.” Another accountability measure both Lime and Bird have put in place is a required driver’s license scan to ensure age and location meet their prerequisites to ride.
Lime and Bird have rules in place that riders must abide by, like following Dallas traffic laws. Running red lights, speeding, and hazardous driving will all make the user liable in a scooter accident that ensues.
The only way these companies could take the blame themselves is if their bikes or scooters are technically defective. And no, tampering with the scooter won’t work either. Riders have already tried this method to escape liability, but the companies have a clause for this as well.
Regardless of who is really to blame, depending on the number of liable in a scooter accidents involving Lime and Bird scooters, the Dallas City Council can decide if they want to extend or revoke the contract. All pros and cons will be taken into consideration when the six-month trial period is up for review. If the scooters improve urban transport and make life easier for Dallas citizens, they will renew the contract. Dallasites could see as much as ten times as many; however, if their presence in the city causes too much controversy and they prove to be a hazard, they’ll be removed from Dallas entirely.
No matter what method of transportation you choose, we should all do our part to minimize accidents. Whether you’re driving a car or riding a scooter, keep an eye out for all moving vehicles and pedestrians. Make sure to take into consideration blind spots, the time of day, and weather conditions.
However, if you get hit by a driver while on a scooter, you may not be at fault. Claims are most likely to result in litigation that involve riders who are obeying all parameters outlined in the user agreement, riding safely and legally.
If you have been involved in an accident with an electric scooter, call the attorneys at Reyes Browne Reilley today for a free consultation.