In Denver and several other traffic-clogged cities, officials have been promoting electric scooters and e-bikes as a “smart mobility” option, a way to move around congested areas quickly, at the fraction of the cost of a gas-guzzling automobile. But the increased use is also raising concerns about scooter-related injuries and liability issues.
According to Denverite, participation in the city’s Shared Micromobility Program increased 76 percent in the second quarter of 2022 compared to the same quarter in 2021. But emergency rooms are also seeing more people injured in scooter crashes, with Denver Health treating an average of 2.5 scooter injuries a day. The surge in injuries has prompted additional measures designed to better advise scooter riders of the rules of the road and avoid collisions with cars and pedestrians.
WHY SO MANY INJURIES?
Scooters can be fun to ride, but they are a particularly unstable and flimsy form of transportation. They can be tricky to steer when abrupt correction is needed, and potholes and bumps in the road can be serious hazards. Some states require scooter riders to wear a helmet; Colorado does not.
The City of Denver requires scooter operators to ride in the bike lane, with the flow of traffic. If there is no bike lane, or posted traffic speeds exceed thirty miles an hour, scooters are permitted to operate on sidewalks at no faster than six miles per hour. But as any one who’s visited LoDo in the past few years can attest, many riders ignore the rules; they scoot against the flow, on the wrong side of the road, or whiz around startled pedestrians on the sidewalk at unsafe speeds. And even those who follow the rules are at great risk from many of the same dangers confronting bicyclists on busy streets — people in cars in parking lanes, for example, pulling away from the curb or flinging open passenger doors.
WHO’S LIABLE IN A SCOOTER ACCIDENT?
As in other personal injury cases, the question of liability in a scooter accident comes down to whether one party or the other was negligent (or whether both were). A scooter operator who is driving recklessly and not following the rules may well be at fault for any crash that occurs, whether with a pedestrian or a vehicle, but a motorist who isn’t exercising reasonable care and sharing the road could be held responsible, too. It’s also possible that some defect in the scooter — faulty brakes, a sticky accelerator — played a role in the crash.
But holding scooter manufacturers accountable can be a challenge. The fine print in the rental agreement with scooter companies typically has language to the effect that the operator “assumes all responsibilities and risks for any injuries” that may result. Consequently, it’s important to review your own liability coverage before you get on a scooter. Credit card companies routinely offer a form of accident coverage when you rent a car or truck, but that coverage doesn’t extend to scooter rentals. While your personal auto insurance policy probably won’t apply in the event of a scooter crash, the uninsured motorist coverage may be of use if, through no fault of your own, you get into an accident with a driver who has no insurance; the UMC should provide some protection, just as it would if you were a pedestrian or driving a car and an uninsured driver ran into you.
Most of all, it’s important to make sure you understand the rules of the road and are comfortable with the way the scooter operates before taking it out on the streets. And wear a helmet.
THE ACCIDENT LAWYERS AT FDAZAR
For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise in serious injury cases have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, Fort Colliins, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a bus, car, truck, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call the car accident attorneys at FDAzar day or night at 800-716-9032, or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.