You’re downtown and tired of walking, so you grab one of the many rental e-scooters around town. You might think nothing of it, but accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, and you don’t have e-scooter insurance. Now what?
As we have already discussed, e-scooters come with many risks, including severe head trauma if you ride a scooter without a helmet. If you do have an accident while riding an e-scooter, you want to make sure you’re covered. If you are at fault, you will need liability insurance. If someone else is at fault, you need to know how to proceed to cover your medical costs.
When you sign the user agreement with any of the e-scooter rental companies, in theory you release the company from any liability in the event of an accident. However, as the industry evolves, that could change.
According to the Insurance Information Institute:
“First off, in most cities, the company renting you the scooter probably won’t cover your liability – that’s part of the multipage user agreement you endorse by clicking the ‘I Agree’ button. You’re basically riding at your own risk. This may change, though, as scooting sharing spreads. San Francisco’s new permitting process, for example, requires these companies to have ‘adequate insurance’ for each of their users.”
Beyond that, you will need to look to your personal insurance policies for liability coverage, if you caused the accident. That can become a challenge, because homeowners’ policies typically don’t cover accidents that occur in a vehicle. In addition, most auto policies cover vehicles with four wheels or more. If you happen to hold a motorcycle insurance policy, it might cover your scooter accident as well.
Your best bet comes in the form of an umbrella policy that covers personal liability. These policies cover you in a variety of circumstances where someone might be injured on your property, by your dog, in your pool, etc. They also help cover any additional liability from auto accidents or on your property that exceed your other policies’ limits.
If the scooter rider was at fault for an accident — for example, a pedestrian is hit by a rider, or a driver swerves to avoid hitting a negligently driven scooter and crashes — the rider is legally accountable for your injuries. If the scooter rider had homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, their insurance company may cover your claim.
Although, legally speaking, the negligent rider is responsible, an attorney is unlikely to take the case if there is no insurance policy to pursue for compensation. Under the user agreements for Bird and Lime, riders agree to sole responsibility for damages, injuries and claims that arise as a result of using scooter services. In theory, if the user agreements are enforceable, those who are injured by riders must rely on riders for compensation.
If the scooter malfunctions, then the company may be at fault for your injuries. The problem here: the scooter company apps, such as Bird and Lime, contain draconian user agreements that release the companies from all liability. We know that Bird has already denied these claims, taking the position that under the user agreement, the scooter rider has assumed responsibility for any injury caused by use of the scooter and has agreed to hold Bird harmless from any injury claim.
Example of Lime User agreement:
1.14. Assumption of Liability by You : YOU AGREE THAT YOU ARE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE AND LIABLE FOR ANY MISUSE, CONSEQUENCES, CLAIMS, DEMANDS, CAUSES OF ACTION, LOSSES, LIABILITIES, DAMAGES, INJURIES, FEES, COSTS AND EXPENSES, PENALTIES, ATTORNEYS’ FEES, JUDGMENTS, SUITS AND/OR DISBURSEMENTS OF ANY KIND, OR NATURE WHATSOEVER, WHETHER FORESEEABLE OR UNFORESEEABLE, AND WHETHER KNOWN OR UNKNOWN, AS A RESULT OF USING ANY OF THE SERVICES.
The vehicle driver’s auto insurance carrier will pay if the car driver’s negligence resulted in injury to a scooter rider. If the driver is uninsured or underinsured, however, you might need to use your UM/UI coverage on your own auto insurance policy, or ask your insurance carrier if additional coverage, such as Medpay, will kick in.
If a pedestrian is at fault for injuries suffered by a scooter rider — for example, a pedestrian suddenly negligently steps into the rider’s path — then the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance owned by the pedestrian may pay. If the pedestrian has no homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, the injury victim will have a hard time getting an attorney to take the case.
A business could be at fault for creating a hazard with gravel, debris, or construction materials: If a scooter rider is injured due to gravel on the roadway, or improperly placed construction material or signage, the business’s insurance carrier may pay.
If a pothole or other road defect causes a scooter rider to be injured or killed, the city may be at fault; however, some cities are requiring release language in the app’s user agreement which releases the City and its employees from any liability
If an unleashed dog chases an electric scooter rider, and attacks the rider, or causes the scooter rider to crash while trying to get away, then the dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy will apply. If the dog owner has no insurance, a law firm may be unwilling to take the case.
Because they are a new form of transportation, electric scooter accidents can involve tricky and unsettled legal issues. You want a lawyer who has experience handling electric scooter accidents.
For example, if you were injured on a Lime electric scooter, and are considering making a claim against Lime, you probably don’t know that the user agreement you signed when you downloaded the Lime app shrinks the deadline to file an injury claim from two years to one year. Unless you read Lime’s 261-page user agreement, you wouldn’t know this. Nobody reads the ridiculously long user agreements that these scooter companies require riders to sign; yet the scooter companies will attempt to use these agreements against injury victims as a basis to deny a rider’s claim.An electric scooter accident can result in serious injuries that can affect you and your family for the rest of your life. If someone else was at fault, they should pay for your medical bills, your lost wages, and your pain and suffering. You want a tenacious personal injury lawyer on your side to demand fair compensation for your losses. Call us for a free consultation.
If you have been injured in an e-scooter accident in Denver, contact us for a free case evaluation.
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