Electric scooters, or e-scooters, are a relatively new way to get around Birmingham, yet they have already made headlines. Since companies such as Lime, Bird, Spin, Skip and Jump debuted their rentable e-scooters in metropolitan areas throughout the world, thousands of reports of serious injuries and even deaths have surfaced. From late 2017 to June 2019, Consumer Reports found that e-scooters caused at least 1,500 serious injuries and 8 deaths. Assigning liability is an important step for anyone who wishes to recover compensation for e-scooter accidents.
Who Is Liable in E-Scooter Accidents?
Liability for an e-scooter accident will come down to the party responsible for its primary cause. If the proximate cause was a scooter defect, for example, the creator of the scooter could be liable. An investigation of the accident may be necessary to assign liability, as fault may not be immediately obvious.
- A driver. Collisions between automobiles and e-scooters have caused most rider deaths. If a driver was guilty of breaking a roadway rule, such as failing to yield the right-of-way, or an act of negligence or recklessness, the driver could be liable for the victim’s injuries.
- The e-scooter company. In a case involving a defective e-scooter, the manufacturing company may absorb liability. For example, a significant brake glitch with Lime e-scooters caused excessive braking in the middle of rides – throwing some riders from their vehicles.
- The city. Roadway defects such as potholes or loose gravel can be especially dangerous for people on bicycles, scooters and e-scooters. If the city reasonably should have repaired these defects before the crash, it could be liable for damages.
Sometimes the e-scooter rider’s own fault contributed to the accident. A rider that is inexperienced or negligent may not safely or properly ride the scooter, leading to a crash. Unfortunately for victims, Alabama is a contributory negligence state, making it impossible for victims to still recover partial compensation if they contributed to their e-scooter accidents at all. It is important to ask a lawyer about liability before assuming fault for an e-scooter crash.
Evidence to Use When Establishing Liability
During an e-scooter accident insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, the burden of proof rests with the victim (the plaintiff). The injured party must prove that the defendant caused or greatly contributed to the e-scooter accident. Proving an e-scooter case often takes gathering proof of negligence.
- Photographs from the scene
- Videos or surveillance footage of the accident
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- E-scooter accident expert testimony
- Key witness testimony
- Crash reconstruction
- Police reports
- Medical documents
Establishing proof requires a preponderance of the evidence: based on the evidence, the plaintiff’s version of events is more likely to be true than not true. Hiring a personal injury attorney can help a victim meet the burden of proof using all forms of available evidence. A lawyer will know how to investigate an e-scooter accident for evidence of negligence and proof of fault.
What Can You Claim in an E-Scooter Accident Case?
Filing an e-scooter accident case allows the victim to claim damages, or compensation for crash-related losses, from the at-fault party. It can be especially important for a victim who suffered serious or life-changing personal injuries to bring a claim. Injuries that will cost thousands of dollars in medical bills, as well as damages such as lost wages, deserve compensation from the at-fault party.
- Current and foreseeable future medical expenses
- Lost enjoyment of life or daily activities
- Physical pain and suffering, or other noneconomic damages
- The costs related to a temporary or permanent disability
- Lost wages and lost future earning opportunities
- Property damage repairs
- Legal fees and personal expenses
- Punitive damages
How much a victim’s claim may be worth will depend on the unique facts of the case. If the victim suffered serious losses, such as the death of a loved one, his or her case could be worth a significant amount. A conversation with an e-scooter accident attorney in Birmingham could help determine the potential value of a claim.