In an effort to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, the city of Chicago launched a shared scooter program in 2019 and a second pilot program in 2020. The program was met with mixed reactions. Some were concerned about public safety, but many people were excited about the new mode of transportation. Unfortunately, as with every form of transportation, the electric scooters have proven to be dangerous and sometimes a serious hazard, and there have been a number of scooter accidents, injuries, and even deaths associated with them.
Now that shared e-scooters are a common sight on Chicago city streets, you may be wondering how often people get hurt while riding them and whether injured riders are able to file lawsuits against the responsible parties.
If you or a loved one has been injured while riding a Bird or Lime scooter, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced personal injury attorneys at The Kryder Law Group, LLC have represented many people who have been injured in accidents and are ready to offer legal assistance and help you with your case.
How many people used Lime & Bird scooters in Chicago during the pilot?
Due to the widespread use of e-scooters and the overall success of the 2020 pilot in Chicago, which saw more than 540,035 trips taken during the pilot period, City Hall voted to implement a permanent shared e-scooter program.
Notable aspects of the pilot included an emphasis on rider education, an Equity Priority Area, and a “lock-to” requirement for scooter parking. The pilot ran from August 12 to December 12, 2020 and three scooter companies participated: Bird, Lime, and Spin. The scooter companies were required to create a safety quiz that all riders had to complete and get at least 80% of the questions correct before their first ride to help prevent scooter related injuries.
The Equity Priority Area covered almost half of Chicago and each vendor was required to deploy at least half of the fleet in this area. In an improvement on the 2019 pilot, all e-scooters were equipped with locks and riders were required to lock the scooters to a fixed object at the end of their trip.
How many Lime & Bird e-scooters are in Chicago?
The program allows companies to rent out up to 6,000 e-scooters to the public. Two of the most popular during the pilot programs were Bird and Lime, and they are expected to enter the permanent program as well.
Riders are legally required to operate electric scooters on the road alongside full size automobiles. The rules of the road for e-scooters are the same as for bicycles. Riders must stay in bike lanes whenever possible and ride with traffic, not against it. Electric scooters are also not allowed on the sidewalks.
Because electric scooters aren’t subject to any unique scooter regulations or traffic rules, they must adhere to all of the regular motor vehicle regulations and laws. This includes stopping at stop signs and stop lights and staying off of sidewalks.
Chicago’s long-term shared e-scooter program will also feature sidewalk detection technology that will cause the electric scooter to shut down if it is taken off the street.
Rising Electric Scooter Accidents
Naturally, the number of injuries sustained on e-scooters has increased as more e-scooter riders hit the streets. In the past four years, e-scooter accidents have caused 190,000 emergency room visits and at least 71 deaths. Experts say these numbers are likely underreported and will continue to rise as this novel method of transportation increases in popularity.
E-scooter accidents and injuries can be caused by a number of factors, including:
Poorly maintained scooters
Distracted, inebriated, or inexperienced riders
Defective scooter parts
Dangerous road conditions
Reckless or negligent drivers
Drivers with inadequate safety gear or who don’t wear helmets
If you were injured while riding an electric scooter, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal action options and ensure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries and receive the maximum amount possible.
Are Electric Scooters Safe?
Since e-scooters in Chicago are a new phenomenon, it is hard to say definitively whether or not they are safe. During the summer 2019 pilot, riders took a total of 821,615 trips on shared e-scooters. During the cooler fall/winter 2020 pilot, riders took 540,035 e-scooter trips. According to the Chicago of Chicago’s 2019 and 2020 electric scooter pilot evaluations, the rate of injury on e-scooters remained relatively the same at about 0.2 injuries per 100,000 trips. In 2019, there were 192 injuries that required emergency room treatment, and in 2020, there were 171 injuries that required emergency room treatment from electric scooter accidents.
Fortunately, serious e-scooter injuries are rare, but over the past four years, there have been approximately 71 e-scooter related deaths throughout the country, and one university study indicates that 80% of e-scooter fatalities involved an e-scooter accident involving automobile collisions.
What do I need to prove if I was injured by an automobile while operating a shared e-scooter?
In Illinois, you must prove that a motor vehicle driver was negligent in order to recover compensation from the other driver’s insurance coverage. To prove negligence, plaintiffs involved in a serious accident on an electric scooter must show:
the defendant owed a duty of care,
the defendant breached that duty of care,
the defendant caused injuries, and
the plaintiff suffered damages.
E-scooter riders are required by law to operate on the roads alongside automobiles, so it comes as no surprise that an inattentive or distracted driver might strike a rider. In fact, the majority of fatalities involving scooter-automobile collisions involve the automobile striking the electric scooter rider from behind.
In order to prove that an automobile driver was at-fault for striking an e-scooter rider in an electric scooter accident, the rider must show that the driver breached a duty of care. For example, if the driver was speeding or ran a red light, the driver would be in breach of a duty of care. If the rider can prove that the driver’s negligence caused the accident and resulting injuries, the electric scooter rider may be able to recover compensation for damages.
What can I recover if an automobile negligently struck me while I was operating a shared e-scooter?
Compensation is not limited to just financial redress for your medical expenses and property damage after a scooter accident. Jurors and insurance companies also account for the pain and suffering you experienced, your loss of the simple pleasures in your life, wages for missed work, and emotional suffering as a result of the scooter accident.
Medical Bills: Reasonable and necessary medical bills that are related to the injuries suffered in an accident are compensable. If you are receiving ongoing treatment, you may be compensated for any future medical care as well.
Lost Wages: If you miss work as a result of an accident, you may be compensated for any lost income.
Pain and suffering: The physical discomfort and anguish associated with your injuries.
Loss of a normal life: Also known as hedonic damages, these damages attempt to compensate you for the intangible loss of your enjoyment of the things in life you are unable to do now. For example, if you enjoyed jogging as a hobby but can no longer jog due to a broken leg, you may be compensated because you are no longer able to due to one of your hobbies.
Mental suffering: The emotional toll and anguish associated with your injuries.
How much is my e-scooter injury worth?
Each case is highly fact-specific and depends on the issues in the case. Some e-scooter injury cases settle for thousands of dollars, while other cases have settled for several million dollars. Insurance companies evaluate the nature of your injury along with your income, age, and likelihood of prevailing at trial when determining the settlement value in a scooter accident.
Nature of the Injury: The nature of any injury is a major factor when determining settlement value. Serious injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, amputations, and death tend to command high case values.
Medical Expenses: Since medical bills are compensable, cases involving large medical bills have higher values.
Income: High income earners that have missed work may be compensated for their lost wages. Jurors may award future lost wages if claimants are permanently disabled or unable to work for protracted lengths of time.
Age: If a young person is injured and suffered permanent injuries that they must live with for the rest of their life, they may be entitled to higher verdict awards at trial.
Liability: Additionally, a defendant’s insurance company will also consider the likelihood that a jury will rule in favor of the plaintiff before agreeing to settle. If there is clear evidence that their defendant is at fault, they will be much more likely to agree to a larger settlement.
Although some states limit what can be recovered in a wrongful death case, there is no cap on compensatory or punitive damages in Illinois. A jury is only instructed to award damages based on what they believe is reasonable compensation for the injuries suffered. Although unusual, a jury is even free to award more than what a plaintiff might ask for at trial.
What should I do if I am injured in an e-scooter accident?
The first thing you should do is seek medical attention, even if you do not think you are seriously injured after a Lime or Bird accident. Many injuries, such as concussions, head injuries, and soft tissue damage, may not be immediately apparent. You may also want to file a police report as well to document the accident. You should also take photos and videos of the accident scene and your injuries.
After you have sought medical attention, you should contact an experienced Chicago e-scooter injury lawyer to discuss your case. An experienced lawyer will be able to give you legal assistance and guide you through the legal process to help ensure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries.
How can I get help if I was injured while riding a scooter?
If you were injured while riding a Lime or Bird scooters or rental scooters from another company, you should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
The Kryder Law Group, LLC, Accident and Injury Lawyers is a personal injury law firm that has represented many seriously injured accident victims. We offer a free consultation where we will review the facts of your scooter accident case and advise you of your legal options.
Our law firm has helped thousands of clients and have recovered millions of dollars for accident victims. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.