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Who Is Responsible When a Bird or Lyme e-Scooter Causes a Crash in Ohio?

Post By Corey Heit

Bird and Lime e-scooters appeared in Columbus literally overnight in 2019. Soon joined by Spin machines and a rotating group of other competitors, e-scooters that riders rent by the half-hour quickly became nearly as common as bicycles on the streets of Ohio’s capital city.

E-scooter crashes inevitably followed. Riders fell. Drivers hit riders. Riders slammed into cars. When injuries resulted, victims naturally asked, “Can I file a Bird scooter injury lawsuit in Ohio?”

Substitute the appropriate company name for Bird, and the answer will remain “It depends.” Determining who has liability for compensating a person who gets injured in a crash involving an e-scooter requires identifying the reason why the collision occurred. It also helps to know the basics of how e-scooter rentals work and what auto insurance coverage options the e-scooter rider carries.

What Happens When a Rider Wrecks on Their Own?

A Bird, Lime, or Spin rider who suffers injuries from falling off the scooter, running into a wall, or striking a pothole is almost definitely on their own for paying medical bills. Current rules make it practically impossible to succeed with a lawsuit against Bird or another e-scooter company in Ohio.

The rental agreement that riders accept when they check out an e-scooter indemnifies the company from actions taken by riders. Litigation with the potential to set standards for the duties e-scooter companies have to ensure their machines are safely designed and kept in good repair is working its way through various courts. But for now, riders step onto e-scooters largely at their own risk.

To stop well short of offering legal advice, allow me to recommend that every Bird, Lime, and Spin rider follow the recommendation to wear a helmets. It also helps to prevent accidents when you ride with traffic, obey traffic lights and stop signs, stay on the roadway, keep as close to the right curb as possible, and never ride while drunk.

What Happens When a Rider Causes a Crash With a Car or Truck?

Car and truck drivers who suffer injuries in crashes caused by e-scooter riders have three options for seeking reimbursement for medical expenses, payment of lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. This is true for passengers in the motor vehicles, as well.

First, the injured vehicle occupants can explore whether the rider carries an umbrella insurance policy or has applicable liability coverage under their homeowner’s policy. Auto insurance will not cover a person operating an e-scooter, but other types of insurance may come into play.

Suing the at-fault individual would be another possibility. Before doing that, however, the injured party will want to work with a personal injury attorney to make sure that the e-scooter rider has sufficient financial resources to pay a potential award from a personal injury lawsuit.

The best option will be accessing one’s own uninsured motorist coverage through one’s own auto insurance policy. Ohio law does not require drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage, but electing the coverage will prove worthwhile in situations such as suffering injuries in a crash caused by an e-scooter rider.

Invoking uninsured motorist coverage does not mean claims will be paid automatically. The injured person must still present evidence that someone else caused the wreck and that all claimed injuries and expenses resulted from the collision.

What Happens When a Driver Hits and Injures a Rider?

A rider who suffers injuries in a crash caused by a negligent or reckless driver has the same rights as a pedestrian to file an insurance claim or lawsuit. Here, though, it is important to understand that Ohio personal injury law follows a rule of comparative negligence. An e-scooter rider who is found to be, say, 30 percent responsible for causing the crash in which they got hurt will have their settlement or court award reduced by that amount.

Corey Heit of Westerville-based Heit Law welcomes questions about Columbus Bird scooter injury lawsuits. He offers free consultations, and he take appointments online. You can speak with Corey by calling him at (614) 898-5300.

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