E-Scooters & Traumatic Brain Injuries
San Francisco’s Complicated History with E-Scooters
Despite evidence to the contrary, electric scooters didn’t magically appear in downtown San Francisco overnight. In March 2018, the three giants of the e-scooter craze – Bird, Lime, and Spin – tried to kickstart a transportation revolution by scattering their products across the city proper with $1 to start!” signs. Before we knew it, every street corner was inundated with competing scooters.
By June, the SFMTA recognized the dangers associated with these vehicles and passed a law to prevent companies from scooter networking without a city permit. However, the city eventually caved to Scoot and Skip, two companies based in San Francisco, after they presented unique proposals that satisfied the SFMTA’s safety concerns regarding riders and pedestrians. Going forward, all e-scooter companies need to offer free helmets and detailed parking instructions if they want to be included in the city’s pilot program.
Of course, Bird quickly found a way to skirt past this permitting issue by renting out scooters on a monthly basis. According to Adam Brinklow of Curbed San Francisco, “the new Bird rental program skates by those rules, because renters will now store Bird’s scooters at their homes and the micro-mobility devices will not be available to rent on sidewalks. The only time people will see the scooters in public is when users are actively riding them.”
The Dangers Associated with E-Scooters
E-scooters have become extremely popular with adult and teen customers. The renting process is simple: customers, or “independent operators” can download the scooter company’s mobile app, scan their driver’s license, input their credit card information, and unlock a nearby scooter of choice.
Like any transportation option, there are various safety concerns associated with e-scooters:
- Electric scooters are unstable by design and easily overturned by road hazards
- These vehicles lack external or built-in safety features
- Young and inexperienced riders often participate in reckless behaviors
- Drivers don’t watch for riders, leading to tragic collisions and fatal injuries
Despite online safety recommendations and guides, most scooter companies don’t regulate a rider’s speed or offer helmets with their vehicles – including Bird. In fact, the company has proven it prioritizes profit over people by sponsoring AB-2989, a bill that allows adult riders to operate stand-up scooters without helmets. If the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee hadn’t butchered the bill last July, it would also let riders to go 25mph on sidewalks, inevitably putting countless pedestrians in danger.
Ideally, these vehicles should only be operated by people with driver’s licenses, but this fact hasn’t stopped youths from stealing or using fake IDs to rent vehicles for reckless and irresponsible escapades. Last September, The Verge wrote an article about “teen scooter outlaws,” and interviewed unidentified children who have mastered the system. As the author, Will Kubzanski, explains, “Underage scooting isn’t just an LA thing. Teens from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. have ridden illegally.”
There are three common types of e-scooter accidents:
- A rider is hit by a distracted, intoxicated, speeding, or fatigued motorist
- A distracted rider crashes into a pedestrian
- A rider is ejected from the vehicle by objects or uneven surfaces
According to a study completed by the University of California at Los Angeles, the most common e-scooter injuries are “fractures (31.7%), head injuries (40.2%), and soft-tissue injuries (27.7%).” A separate study released by the CDC and the Public Health and Transportation departments in Austin, Texas found that 20 riders are injured per 100,000 scooter trips, and that 15% of all scooter victims sustain traumatic brain injuries. For these reasons and more, Bird and Lime are currently facing class action lawsuits relating to product liability, gross negligence, and aiding and abetting assault.
A rider can suffer the following TBI after a scooter accident:
- Penetration injuries
- Diffuse axonal
These injuries can lead to the following symptoms and side effects:
- Brain death
- Blood vessel damage
- Cognitive issues and/or disabilities
- Executive functioning problems
- Behavioral and emotional changes
- Communication issues
- Depression and anxiety
- Degenerative brain diseases
A serious e-scooter accident can alter the trajectory of your life and devastate your finances. If you or a loved one has been injured in an e-scooter accident, it’s critical that you retain legal representation as soon as possible. At Scarlett Law Group, we can investigate your case, identify the negligent parties, and help you recover damages that facilitate your recovery process.
If you’re an injured rider or pedestrian, you may have grounds to file a claim against the following parties:
- A motorist
- A scooter rider
- The e-scooter company
- The e-scooter manufacturer
- A business owner (premises liability)
- The city
However, e-scooter litigation is an untested legal frontier, and the body of precedent is small. To secure damages, you need to retain the services of an innovative attorney with the skills and experience to think outside the box.
Discuss Your Case with a Qualified Legal Representative Today
Contact the Scarlett Law Group if you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury after an e-scooter accident. Our trial-tested legal team has been representing catastrophic injury, personal injury, and wrongful death claims for over 25 years. With our help, you can obtain a favorable settlement or verdict that accounts for your lost wages, ongoing medical expenses, and more.
We’ve recovered multi-million-dollar results for victims of traumatic brain injury. Call the Scarlett Law Group at (415) 688-2176 to schedule a consultation today.