Who Pays the Bills After an E-Scooter Crash?
By Lynn Fugaro, Staff Writer
With no end to the e-scooter craze in sight, you may want to think about a few things before you take your next ride through crowded city streets. The number of e-scooter rides being taken is increasing at lightning speed, and so is the number of e-scooter-related injuries. Some of these accidents are resulting in pretty serious personal injuries and extensive property damage.
We hate to take the fun out of a pastime that has taken the nation by storm, but because e-scooter accidents are so prevalent, there’s a good chance you may need to know what happens if you’re hurt in an accident, if you hurt someone else in an accident, or if you are the cause of property damage in an e-scooter accident. According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, over 38.5 million e-scooter rides were taken in 2018; that number is expected to be higher at the end of 2019.
Lime and Bird—the Two Biggies
Lime and Bird are the two biggest e-scooter manufacturers in the United States at the current time. You will see these scooters on many several city street corners in hundreds of locations across the United States. Bird and Lime place the responsibility for accidents on riders by listing in their rental agreements that riders relieve the companies of liability. People who want to ride Lime and Bird scooters must agree to certain times before riding. Bird says riders are fully insured for anything that might happen as a result of a faulty Bird scooter; Lime indicates its insurance policy offers at least $1 million in liability coverage for each covered claim. Unfortunately, however, there’s no way to known if a claim is covered until after an accident is investigated.
Despite Lime and Bird’s liability insurance, officials say that responsibility for damages in an e-scooter accident will most likely fall on the riders’ shoulders according to the fine print in the “terms and conditions” users agree to when they download the app. Because of the newness of this mode of transportation, courts have not yet a chance to weigh in on any of the liability issues regarding e-scooter accidents, but as more and more cases are heard in the country’s courtrooms, more issues of liability in e-scooter accidents will have to be ironed out so people riding know what to expect should an accident occur.
Bryant Greening, attorney and co-founder of LegalRideshare, which represents clients injured in ride-hailing or shared scooter accidents says, “Generally speaking, these waivers of liability hold up in court, but we’re going to have to see what happens as more and more of these injury cases are brought and are litigated.”
Insurance Coverage for E-Scooters?
Many people who ride e-scooters on a regular basis believe their auto insurance would cover an accident, but car insurance generally doesn’t cover vehicles with fewer than four wheels. Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may cover an accident that occurs on a traditional bicycle, but at this time, most of those policies do not cover motorized scooter incidents. That is likely to change as the e-scooter craze in this country continues.
Some tips to protect yourself: Call your car insurance agent to ask how you can get coverage if you’re going to be a frequent e-scooter rider. If you have a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, you may be able to add what’s referred to as an “umbrella policy,” which covers more scenarios and includes higher limits for coverage than typical policies for homeowners and renters.
The best advice regarding e-scooters is to read the terms and conditions offered on the app prior to signing off on it. While it’s exciting to hop on an e-scooter and cruise about town, you have to realize you are operating a motor vehicle and your body is exposed and vulnerable to injury. The safety of others walking, riding, and driving around you is also an issue. If you cause injury to a person or damage property, you will be held liable, so it’s important to under liability issues with e-scooter accidents before you sign off on the manufacturer’s riding agreement.