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Last-mile motorized electric scooter rentals are all the rage these days. And when I say all, I mean all. People are irate over the chaos created by the controversial descent of Bird scooters all over cities and towns that have been dropped all over like, well, droppings.
Bird Driving Lanes
Annoyances aside, these motorized scooters are creating safety issues, and police are now getting involved. These scooters reach a maximum of 15 mph, and therefore many users prefer to ride them on the sidewalk, away from whizzing cars. Like bicycles, however, they are not permitted on sidewalks, pursuant to most state and municipal transit codes.
Per the California Department of Motor Vehicles, "A motorized scooter may be operated on a bicycle path, trail or bikeway, but not on a sidewalk. On the roadway, it must be operated in the bicycle lane, if there is one. On roads without bicycle lanes, motorized scooters may operate where the speed limit is 25 mph or less, and shall be ridden as close to the right hand curb as possible, except to pass or turn left."
Fines Bird Drivers Face
What if you are a pedestrian on a sidewalk and are hit by one of these motorized scooters? In Milwaukee, police have issued their first ticket for this offense. Injuries to the person are unknown, but the man riding the scooter was issued a fine for $98.90 for riding illegally on the sidewalk.
Motorized scooter drivers must have a valid driver's license. Though that is a requirement of the law and Bird, it is often overlooked. If you hit someone and the police find that you are driving it without a valid driver's license, that's an additional fine. Riding a motorized vehicle without a helmet can tack on another fine, around $190 in California. And if you are scootering under the influence, add on another $352 fine in The Golden State. A $2 joy ride could get very, very expensive.
Some cities have gotten so fed up with these electric scooters, they've been outlawed. In New York City, for example, use of all motorized scooters have been banned.
Who Pays in a Scooter Accident?
Another interesting caveat in this industry concerns which type of insurance should pay for this sort of accident. One mother in Los Angeles got into a scooter accident (she was the driver), and broke her arms so badly she needed surgery to put plates and pins in both arms. Astronomical medical and physical therapy bills ensued, and she was left to cover them personally. Her health insurance said her auto insurance should cover those bills. Unsurprisingly, her auto insurance won't cover a crash on a scooter.
Most scooter companies were founded by former ride-sharing executives from Uber and Lyft. Therefore, it is not surprising that legal counsel for corporations, such as Bird, take an "ask for forgiveness rather than permission" approach to laws regarding this new industry. It will probably take a few bad accidents before legislature and judges figure out the best way to regulate these motorized scooters. Until then, watch out!
If you or someone you love is hit by a motorized scooter driver, contact your local personal injury attorney, who can help you sort out the local laws, apply the facts in your case, and help get your expenses covered.