E-scooter usage has exploded across the country in recent years. In 2018, the National Association of City Transportation Officials reported that people took 84 million shared micromobility trips in 2018, which was twice the number of trips taken in 2017, just as e-scooters and e-bikes were becoming widely available.
E-scooters only became legal to ride in New York City in 2020, and e-scooter services like Lime and Bird just recently appeared in the city. However, New Yorkers in the city and across the state have taken quickly to riding these vehicles. But, despite the massive increase in scooterists, many areas of the city still lack vital infrastructure that could help keep riders safe on the road.
Studies have shown that riding an e-scooter can be quite dangerous to both riders and others. Negligent drivers are a threat to e-scooter riders in the many areas where bike lanes don’t exist. The lack of protected lanes for e-scooters and bikes in different areas of the city often forces scooterists onto the sidewalk because they don’t feel safe on the road with other cars. This can lead to dangerous collisions with pedestrians on the sidewalk.
If you are an e-scooter user who has been injured in an accident caused by negligence in New York City, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact one of our experienced New York personal injury attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C. so that we can help you review your case and determine your legal options.
Causes of E-Scooter Accidents
E-scooter accidents are caused by a variety of factors. There are situations where e-scooter riders themselves may be partly responsible for an accident. However, many times, negligent drivers are at fault for a scooterist’s crash and injuries. Let’s take a look at some of the causes of e-scooter accidents in New York City.
When e-scooter riders cause accidents:
- Riding on the sidewalk – In New York, e-scooter riders are not permitted to exceed 15 mph and may only ride in bike lanes or on streets with posted speed limits that are no greater than 30 mph. However, because many areas of the city currently lack protected lanes for bikers and e-scooter riders, e-scooter riders will ride on the sidewalk as a survival mechanism. The issue is that this frequently causes accidents with pedestrians. Scooterists can cause severe injuries when they collide with pedestrians.
- Inexperienced riders – Because shared e-scooters are a relatively new mode of transportation, some scooterists may not have much experience using these vehicles. They may not know to use the bike lane where one exists, may not know speed limit rules, or may not know that riding on the sidewalk is prohibited, putting pedestrians in danger.
- Intoxicated riders – New Yorkers who have had a fun night out drinking may choose to take a Lime home when it would be better for them to take an Uber. Driving an e-scooter while intoxicated is dangerous to other vehicles on the road and to the scooterist themselves, especially if they are not wearing a helmet.
When drivers cause accidents:
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving occurs when a driver is focused on a task other than driving, and it can lead to serious accidents. Types of distracted driving activities include texting, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio, personal grooming, and more. In some cases, drivers may not notice e-scooters on the road because they are focused on other vehicles. This can be especially dangerous in areas where there is no bike lane and scooterists are required to share the road with cars.
- Tailgating – Some drivers don’t behave in the most courteous way toward e-scooter riders they share the road with. Tailgating is a type of aggressive driving and occurs when a driver follows an e-scooter or other vehicle too closely. Bikers and scooterists have just as much right to use designated roadways as drivers do, especially when there is no protected bike lane, but some drivers may tailgate scooterists or even try to run them off the road when they get impatient.
- Reckless driving and speeding – Drivers who speed or drive aggressively around cyclists and scooterists present a huge danger to riders. When a driver speeds, they increase the likelihood that they will lose control of their car or be unable to stop in time when an e-scooter is in front of them.
- Drunk driving – Driving while intoxicated slows down a driver’s reaction time and impedes their ability to judge traffic situations. Especially at night, the likelihood that a drunk driver will even notice a scooterist on the road is much lower. Drunk driving is especially dangerous to e-scooter riders who, like cyclists, have very few safety features protecting them from accidents.
Collisions caused by road hazards:
E-scooter and bike lane infrastructure in New York City is lacking given the huge influx of e-scooters over the past few years. Sometimes, road hazards will cause e-scooter accidents. Potholes, uneven or cracked roadways, and other hazards may either cause accidents themselves or may force an e-scooter rider onto the sidewalk, which has its own dangers for both scooterists and pedestrians.
Other times, scooterists may collide with obstructions in the roadway. In New York City, one common obstruction is open car doors. Scooterists who are riding in the bike lane or the far right lane may collide with a parked driver who has opened their door without paying attention to the approaching e-scooter, causing an accident.
Injuries in E-Scooter Accidents
E-scooter injuries can be severe, particularly when an e-scooter accident occurs because of a negligent driver. Research has shown that e-scooter riders are much less likely to wear a helmet than cyclists are. Cyclists tend to be commuters, while e-scooter riders tend to be casual users.
In 2021, Injury Prevention published a study detailing the most severe injuries that typically occur in electric scooter traffic-related accidents. Head and upper extremity injuries were among the most common, but the lower extremities were also a common site of injuries.
E-scooter riders also don’t enjoy the same safety features motorists have to protect them in the event of a crash, which means that, unlike passenger vehicle drivers, scooterists are directly impacted by collisions, which can result in devastating injuries, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries – TBIs are among the most common and most dangerous types of e-scooter injuries, and often occur when a rider is not wearing a helmet. TBIs can include concussions, skull fractures, and even hematomas and brain bleeds in serious circumstances.
- Spinal damage – Damage to the spine can have serious repercussions. If the spinal cord is broken in the course of a collision, paralysis can occur below the site of the injury. This type of injury can permanently alter a person’s life.
- Soft-tissue injuries – While they are not always immediately apparent after an e-scooter accident, soft-tissue injuries such as whiplash can cause significant pain and require a long recovery period.
- Broken/fractured bones – As with the head, the upper extremities and the lower extremities are also some of the most common injury sites for e-scooter riders. Because e-scooter riders are usually directly impacted by a collision, broken and fractured bones are a very common injury among these riders. These injuries can take months to recover from and can require extensive surgeries and physical therapy to repair.
Compensation for Scooter Accidents
If you’re an e-scooter rider who was injured in an accident caused by negligence in New York, you may be entitled to receive compensation for expenses associated with:
- Medical costs
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
Unfortunately, for-profit insurance companies will work hard to find ways to reduce or deny your personal injury claim altogether, so working with a skilled personal injury attorney at Finz & Finz, P.C. from the outset can be hugely beneficial. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know what steps they need to take to build a strong case they can leverage to negotiate for the financial recovery you deserve.
How Finz & Finz, P.C. Can Help
If you are the victim of an e-scooter accident in New York City caused by someone else’s negligence, contact us today. The seasoned attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C. will review your case and investigate the accident, collect important evidence, identify the at-fault party or parties, and work to seek a fair settlement on your behalf. Contact us today for a free consultation.