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What Legal Issues Exist With Bird and Lime Scooter Accidents?

Post By Corey Heit

A three-month nationwide data collection effort revealed that for every 100,000 trips on electric scooters like the ones rented by Lime and Bird, 14.3 people suffer injuries. That sounds pretty safe until you realize that the rate for wrong-site/wrong-patient surgeries is 1 in 112,000 operations.

Everyone recognizes the dangers for medical malpractice, as well as the steep personal and financial costs. The risks for personal injuries and wrongful deaths while riding electric scooters receive far less attention.

As e-scooter use has spiked in cities like Columbus, so has the number of Bird and Lime scooter accidents in Ohio. Questions about what a crash victim can do get raised following every accident. This is no less true when a collision leaves a scooter rider hurt, needing medical care, out of work and facing medical bills.

As a Bird and Lime scooter accident attorney who practices in and around Columbus, I most frequently deal with the following three legal issues.

Who Caused the Crash?

This is the most important question for filing an insurance claim or pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. In Ohio, the person who is 51 percent responsible for causing a crash has the legal obligation to compensate the other victim. Assigning percentages of fault often gets complicated.

Recently adopted ordinances in Columbus limit e-scooter riders to operating on streets and obligate riders to obey stop signs, red lights, and speed limits. When a driver strikes a Lime or Bird scooter rider who is complying with all the rules for safe operation, the driver can be held liable.

Violating one of the rules, however, will make it difficult for a rider to argue that they were not principally negligent and primarily at-fault for a crash. At the same time, riding on the sidewalk creates liability for the person on the scooter. Pedestrians definitely face dangers from e-scooters that can reach speeds of more than 20 mph.

How Severe Were the Injuries?

Minor scrapes and light bruising do not provide grounds for an insurance claim or lawsuit. Receiving compensation after a crash requires showing that the collision inflicted serious injuries that required medical care. The higher the medical bills and the greater the degree of resulting disability, the more a scooter crash victim can claim.

Can Bird or Lime Be Held Liable?

The short answer for now is “probably not.” First, riders accept a liability waiver when they unlock an e-scooter. Also, the company that makes the scooter available cannot be held responsible when a riders does something unsafe.

At the time that I wrote this, however, Lime and Bird faced a number of lawsuits regarding their legal duty to prevent injuries and deaths in scooter crashes. The majority of accidents involve a rider falling or getting thrown from a scooter. This can create liability for the company when the scooter is defective or in need of repair. Broader questions also exist regarding whether Bird and Lime are properly limiting who can rent scooters, whether the companies encourage unsafe use whether the companies simply raise people’s risks for harm by renting e-scooters in the first place.

Cory Heit of Westerville-based Heit Law is a Bird and Lime scooter accident attorney in Ohio. You can schedule a free consultation online or speak with him directly by calling (614) 898-5300.

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