Across the globe, society continues to find new methods of personal transportation. Some cities tend to favor one form of transportation over another, but in Atlanta, the car remains king. Yet, there always seems to be room for another transportation option.
A recently published article by Bloomberg discusses a new trend in personal transportation rooted in California, but rapidly expanding to Atlanta: scooters. But, like everything else, the impact on Atlanta residents is both positive and negative. In recent months, personal injury lawyers have been flooded with phone calls from prospective injury clients who have been injured due to the increased use of scooters. The trendy new scooter, brought to you by start-up companies like Bird and Lime, has come with consequences as pedestrians, drivers and even the riders themselves are being injured or involved in accidents.
Liability for Injuries from a Scooter Accident
Although the scooter frenzy is financially inexpensive and environmentally friendly, it has come with some opposing feelings. Lawyers from around the San Francisco area have already heard of accidents involving single scooter crashes due to malfunctioning tires, brakes and road hazards. California state law requires riders to wear helmets, have a driver’s license and refrain from carrying passengers, riding on sidewalks or leaving scooters laid on their side. Many personal injury attorneys have taken on cases involving children riding scooters without helmets, riding irresponsibly and crashing into other vehicles. Unfortunately, riders aren’t necessarily following these laws and local officials are having a hard time keeping up with the problems that the scooter trend presents. Therefore, proposals have been made to “cap the number of scooters and apply tougher penalties for rule breaking.” If these proposals are approved, the rental companies could see a loss in permit as scooter rentals may threaten public health and safety.
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So what does it mean for other metropolitan areas like Atlanta? Should we too prepare for the inevitable scooter fad to take over our streets? Are we prepared to deal with the accidents, negligence and dangers that coincide with scooters? Or do we simply trust that our city and its officials can keep riders and patrons safe? Either way, it’s inevitable that we’ll see a rise in car accidents with scooters.
Injured in a Scooter Accident
The answers are unclear. However, in the meantime both sides are trying to legally protect themselves. Bird and Lime specify that riders must agree to use the scooters at their own risk and they limit their own liability to $100. However, lawyers in California say that such a waiver won’t bar claims for gross negligence. Much like Lyft and Uber, these start-ups may “settle” before a lawsuit is ever filed. While somewhat premature, we tend to agree with the California personal injury attorneys’ viewpoint that simply because a scooter rider signs a release, doesn’t fully protect the rental company from liability.
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For Atlanta and lawyers like us, winning damages will not come easy. Pedestrians who are injured by a scooter will have a difficult case because the rider can disappear within seconds. Certainly, these facts change if a scooter rider is hit by a car. As for the future of transportation in Atlanta, we ask that riders, drivers and pedestrians be aware and careful around scooters – the new Segway.