"It's like the plague. It's spreading so fast." That's the assessment of one personal injury attorney concerning the increasing number of electric scooters on the streets of some major cities in her part of the country.
Feeding the purported contagion are several scooter startup companies with business models that replicate the ride-sharing concepts popularized by such players as Uber and Lyft. Scooter makers put their motorized devices on the streets of the cities. For a fee paid by smartphone, users can unlock a unit and pay a few cents a minute in rent, leaving the scooter on the street at their destination. Some of the scooters tool along on sidewalks and streets at speeds of up to 15 mph. The problem is that accidents are starting to happen, raising liability questions.
While some media outlets are running stories about the developments out west, indications are that the Big Apple has not succumbed to the scooter trend. However, as one report notes, bike sharing has, in just five years, gone from an unknown commodity to what it calls "a backbone of the transit system." So, can a proliferation of loose scooters on the city's streets be too far off?
Anyone who cycles in New York knows that all it takes for an accident to happen is a moment of negligence. In collisions between bikes and cars, the cyclist is likely to suffer the most. In crashes between cyclists and pedestrians, both parties can suffer injury. One can only imagine what havoc could be raised when motorized scooters take to city streets and sidewalks here.
It is perhaps worth noting that recovering damages after any accidents can be a complicated process. Insurance makes motor vehicle cases somewhat easier to resolve. In cases involving sharing bikes or scooters, however, there's not likely to be much in the way of insurance coverage in play. That means making a case for a pedestrian victim after a sidewalk encounter with a scooter could be difficult.
Where questions exist, consult an attorney to get answers.