The rapidly increasing popularity of e-scooters (electric scooters) in recent years has revolutionized commuting and urban transportation. They are an inexpensive, environmentally friendly alternative to driving around town or taking public transportation which has made them an attractive way to navigate the urban landscape. These small electric-powered motorized vehicles consist of a standing platform between two wheels, a long steering column from the front wheel up to the handle bar which contains the throttle and the brakes to control speed and stopping.
While some own their e-scooters, most are commercially owned and made available through public share programs like Lime, who provide e-scooters throughout Colorado Springs, this has greatly increased accessibility along with their use, requiring only a mobile application and a nominal fee per minute to get rolling. There is no training or licensing needed before operating an e-scooter, they can reach speeds up to 20 mph and riders over 18 aren’t required to wear helmets, although wearing one is recommended at any age.
In 2019, the Colorado General Assembly passed House Bill 19-1221 which changed e-scooters classification from “toy vehicles” to “vehicles” allowing them to share roadways, bike lanes, and only permitting them on sidewalks in the absence of a bike lane or if the posted speed limit on the road exceeds 30mph. However, with more avenues of use and the growing number on the road, e-scooter accidents and injuries continue to rise including incidents with cars and pedestrians. The following article will address the common causes, liability, and what you need to know about your rights if you were injured in a Colorado Springs e-scooter accident.
Common Causes of E-scooter Accidents
E-scooters provide a fun and convenient way to get around town. Their light weight and relatively fast speeds allow them to zip through traffic and around pedestrians easily but this also increases the risk of being involved in or causing an accident. E-scooter accidents aren’t always avoidable however, being aware of the following common causes can help reduce the chance of an accident happening.
Negligence – One of the leading causes of traffic accidents is negligence. A vehicle driver engaging in negligent behavior poses a significant threat to e-scooter riders sharing the road. Aggressive driving and making sudden lane changes or turns without checking their surroundings can give little time for a rider to react and can cause them serious injury. Negligent behavior from an e-scooter rider is just as dangerous however. Darting in and out of traffic recklessly, ignoring the rules of the road, and traveling between moving cars can give drivers little time to react, especially if the rider takes a fall around them.
Speeding – E-scooter operators need to be hyper aware while sharing the road. Failure to recognize a speeding vehicle before moving into or crossing traffic can have catastrophic consequences for the rider. They also need to be mindful of their own speed limitations while operating an e-scooter. Even with a maximum speed of 15-20 mph an inexperienced rider can lose control causing serious injury to themselves and others around them. Sidewalks have a 6 mph speed limit for e-scooters. Speeding while trying to navigate a busy sidewalk puts the rider, and pedestrians at high risk of an accident which can result in severe injuries to both parties.
Distracted Driving and Riding – Split-second decision making is often required to avoid accidents whether driving a vehicle or riding an e-scooter. Looking at smartphones, listening to music through earbuds, or eating and drinking takes focus off the road. These, or other forms of distractions impede the time needed to react to a potential collision between a vehicle and an e-scooter that will most likely result in significant injuries to the rider, or one involving an e-scooter and a pedestrian which can cause both parties to sustain injuries.
Influence of alcohol and drugs – Intoxication is a major cause of accidents for all vehicles on the road including e-scooters. Alcohol and drugs impair coordination, reaction times and judgment greatly increasing the risk of an accident, and given the inherent risks already involved with operating an e-scooter riding one while under the influence can lead to disastrous results.
Hazardous road conditions – The smaller wheels and lighter weight of e-scooters make them very susceptible to accidents from hazardous road conditions. Maintaining control on slippery surfaces, uneven pavement, loose gravel, sand and debris is much more difficult for e-scooters, particularly potholes which are extremely hazardous for their smaller wheels.
Technical malfunctions – E-scooters have been known to experience technical malfunctions that can put riders in a dangerous situation resulting in an accident. Brakes failing or engaging unexpectedly, sudden power cuts and tire blowouts on e-scooters can cause serious injuries.
Common Injuries in E-scooter Accidents
E-scooter use has had a phenomenal increase with the introduction of share programs over the last few years and the number of injuries and trips to the ER has risen just as fast. Riding an e-scooter around town is fun and has many advantages over traditional forms of transportation, however, their potential for severe injury is quite high. E-scooters, much like other 2-wheeled modes of transportation, have no protective barrier for the rider, and are as easy to fall from as they are easy to ride. According to the Center for Disease Control, the e-scooter injury rate is 14.3 per 100,000 trips, the majority of these are from rider falls. The most common injuries associated with e-scooter accidents are as follows:
Head Injuries are the most common. They make up 45% of accident-related injuries mainly due to lack of helmet use which can greatly increase the probability of concussions or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) Head injuries can range from mild to severe, including fatality. Symptoms of brain injuries include:
- Vision problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory loss
- Cognitive defects
- Hearing problems
Orthopedic injuries are the second most common. They make up 27% of fractures to the upper extremities. Given the lack of protection for the rider, a collision with a vehicle has a high probability of resulting in fractured or broken bones. In many instances the rider is thrown forward and uses their hands or elbows to brace the impact resulting in a high rate of arm fractures, shoulder dislocations, and broken collarbones.
Other common injuries associated with e-scooter accidents include:
- Facial injuries – contusions, damaged teeth
- Lacerations and severe bruising
- Neck and spine injuries
- Road rash
Determining Fault and Liability for Injuries in a Colorado Springs E-scooter Accident
Colorado is an at-fault state, and a vehicle driver would be liable if their negligence caused an accident with an e-scooter. However, Colorado is also a modified comparative fault system, it is possible for the rider to be partly at-fault if they were engaging in negligent behavior that contributed to the accident. in the occurrence of an accident that involves an e-scooter with a pedestrian on a sidewalk where the rider was exceeding the 6 mph speed limit, the rider would be at-fault and liable for damages.
Other parties that could potentially be at-fault and liable for an e-scooter accident in Colorado Springs include:
- Another e-scooter operator, bicycle or e-bike rider could be completely, or partially at-fault and liable depending on what percentage the each contributed to the accident
- In the case of a mechanical malfunction with the e-scooter causing the accident, the rental company or the e-scooter manufacturer would be at-fault and liable.
- If the accident was the result of hazardous road conditions from poorly maintained roads such as potholes, then the government or local public agency responsible for maintenance of the roads would be liable.
If you’ve been involved in an e-scooter accident and don’t need to leave the scene to seek immediate medical attention, it is important to document and gather as much information as possible. Take photos of your injuries, any contributing road or weather conditions, and the e-scooter, keep the e-scooter as evidence of the extent of damages as well, and if there are any witnesses, gather their contact information.
Determining fault and liability after an accident depends on the circumstances, how it occurred and what degree of fault the parties contributed. A knowledgeable Colorado Springs Electric Scooter Accident Attorney can assess your case, determine what parties are liable and make sure you are compensated.
What Damages am I Entitled to if I’ve Been Injured in an E-scooter Accident?
Recovery from injuries sustained after an e-scooter accident, whether short-term or long-term, can cause an incredible financial strain. Ongoing therapies, treatments, loss of work and the possibility of continued care need to be considered for the compensation you will require to recover. The following are examples of economic and non-economic damages you can incur after injury in a Colorado Springs e-scooter accident.
- Medical expenses (since the date of the accident and future costs)
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Treatment expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- In-home care expenses
- Medical equipment costs
- Transportation expenses
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Pain and Suffering
- Mental Anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Long-term disability
- Potential punitive damages
- Property damage
- Wrongful Death
Have an Experienced Colorado Springs E-scooter Accident Attorney Represent You Today
After sustaining injuries in an e-scooter accident, protect yourself and get the compensation you deserve by consulting a highly qualified Colorado Springs Personal Injury Lawyer. Their legal expertise will help you understand your options, and gather the evidence imperative for a successful claim.
Our top-rated attorneys are experienced in handling the unique intricacies involved with e-scooters and have an impressive track record dealing with difficult insurance companies that might try to prevent a fair value for your settlement. We prioritize our clients, listening to your needs to provide custom-tailored attention until we get a desirable outcome.
Your injuries caused by another’s negligence can require temporary or long-term care. We will provide you with the strongest legal representation possible to minimize your stress and ensure you are financially secure for your recovery including the care you may need down the road. Contact us today for a free consultation.