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First Fatal Electric Scooter Accidents Occur as Companies Continue to Grow

First Fatal Electric Scooter Accidents Occur as Companies Continue to Grow

In a recent blog post, we discussed how shareable electric scooters have increased in popularity throughout Los Angeles and major U.S. cities, and how they pose significant risks of accidents and injuries. Just as companies like Bird, Lime, Skip, and other tech-based services behind rental electric scooters are continuing to flood the roadways with their products, however, the nation saw what were believed to be the first fatal electric scooter accidents.

In one accident, a 24-year-old man died after falling off an electric Lime scooter in Dallas. Authorities state he was riding the scooter, which can be rented through the use of a smart-phone app, to get home after ending his shift at a local restaurant. He was found unconscious and in critical condition during the early morning hours of September 1st, several yards away from broken pieces of the scooter.

On September 20th, The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office released an official ruling on the death, declaring it an accident and stating that the victim died as a result of blunt force injuries to his head. Investigators had initially reported that the victim was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Lime said that it is cooperating with investigations into the cause of the fatal accident, and have reported that there is no indication that the scooter malfunctioned.

Not long after the statement about the Dallas accident was released, a 20-year-old Maryland man was struck by an SUV while riding a Lime scooter and dragged under the vehicle over 60 feet. He later died as a result of his injuries at a local hospital.

California Embraces E-Scooters as Concerns Over Accidents Increase

The tragic scooter fatalities coincide with California Governor Jerry Brown recent signing of a bill that make it legal for adults to ride rental electric scooters, including those owned and operated by Lime, without a helmet. The legislation also allows California cities to authorize scooters on local streets with speed limits up to 35 mph, a 10 mph increase over previous laws.

The recent fatality and California’s latest law have created ample concern for safety advocates in Los Angeles and other cities across the state where the presence of rental scooters has exploded. They’re also citing recent reports and statistics to support those concerns:

  • Rapid expansion – Estimates suggest there may be upwards of 70,000 rental e-scooters across the U.S., with the companies behind them aggressively expanding to new cities. While the companies insist they are focused on keeping riders safe, many wonder how they can effectively reduce risks and work with regulators while continuing their rapid expansion. In fact, financial analysists say Lime may be worth well over $1 billion in market value, especially following the $335 million investment it recently received from Uber, a company that has itself struggled to mend its reputation and a grow-at-all-costs corporation.
  • Reliance on gig economy – Some safety experts are expressing concerns about the reliance of companies like Bird and Lime on the gig-based economy. Although cheap and immediate labor may be necessary for rapid growth, it can pose potential risks when it comes to ensuring scooters are produced by skilled and qualified workers. In fact, Bird has posted ads for mechanics on Craigslist saying “no experience necessary,” and provide training for new hires via online YouTube videos.
  • Needed regulations – The rapid growth of electric scooter companies is making it difficult for cities and states to figure out how to deal with them. While some cities have banned electric rental scooters, others simply tolerate them. California’s own bill regarding helmet use also doesn’t accomplish much in terms of safety, especially as it delegates much of the responsibility to regulating scooter use to local governments. Experts say meaningful laws and regulations over electric scooters will be vital to public safety.
  • Injury rates – Emergency rooms nationwide have reported a spike in accidents involving electric scooters, including one hospital in Salt Lake City that saw a 161% increase in the number of ER visits involving injured riders between the months of June and September in comparison to the previous year. While some of this is due to the increasing availability of dockless electric scooters, it still shows that injuries are happening at alarming rates. Physicians and nurses also report that many of those visits involve traumatic brain injuries and other serious injuries.

Los Angeles Electric Scooter Accident Attorneys Fighting for Victims

For now, shareable electric scooters will likely remain a part of Americans’ overall acceptance of new technologies, and their desire for convenient, affordable, and eco-friendly transportation alternatives – characteristics that have made e-scooters particularly popular in Los Angeles and other Southern California communities. As companies and lawmakers work to improve safety, it therefore becomes everyone’s responsibility to make safety a priority when riding or sharing the road with electric scooters.

Unfortunately, our personal injury lawyers at Biren Law Group know that prioritizing safety isn’t always enough, and that preventable accidents can be caused by the negligence of others. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident involving an electric scooter – either as a rider, pedestrian, bicyclists, or motor vehicle occupant – our award-winning team is available to help you learn about your rights, the personal injury process, and how we can help.

Contact us to request a free consultation. Biren Law Group serves residents throughout Los Angeles and Southern California.

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