Broward County scooter accidents (specifically electric scooters, or e-scooters) have become increasingly common with the proliferation of services like Bird, Lime, Skip, Spin and other providers sailing into South Florida.
Fort Lauderdale civil injury lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm know serious and even catastrophic injuries have been sustained by ride-share device users. These have given rise to a swelling number of lawsuits against electric scooter rideshare tech companies, scooter manufacturers and municipalities where scooter companies have been given the green light to operate.
Electric scooter injuries in Fort Lauderdale were documented almost as soon as these programs were launched. Part of the problem early on was that many e-scooter rental companies simply showed up in cities across the country unannounced, without the express permission of local governments and absent state laws clarifying where the devices could be legally operated.
One of the early Fort Lauderdale scooter injuries prompting city leaders to act involved a 14-year-old boy. He was struck by a car while riding on 17th Street with a group of friends. The driver of the car sped off while the boy was left in critical condition.
In another case, the family of a 28-year-old woman, mother-of-one, said she was left in a persistent vegetative state with massive head injuries after being broadsided by a vehicle while riding an e-scooter through an intersection in west Fort Lauderdale.
Scooter injury attorneys in Fort Lauderdale note emergency room doctors in Broward County, Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County have reported treating anywhere between 5 and 10 e-scooter injury patients weekly.What is an E-Scooter? When Did it Debut in South Florida?
Electric scooters are similar to the common two-wheeled kick scooters you’ve probably been familiar with since childhood, except they are equipped with an electric motor. They have no seat or saddles. (These differ from “motor scooters,” which do have seats and are required to be titled and registered for road operation, and “mopeds,” which require registration but no title and can be operated on Florida roads, unlike kick scooters.)
However, the original scooters were primarily thought of as “toys.” This was despite producing plenty of injuries on their own. One study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2001 indicated non-motorized scooters had the potential to result in serious injury, particularly for young children, sometimes resulting in permanent functional and cosmetic deformity. In 2013, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported there were nearly 53,000 child scooter injuries and one scooter accident death. The American Academy of Pediatrics warned parents/caregivers that riders younger than 8 on scooters should be closely supervised, wearing helmets and never allowed to rid in moving traffic.
Electric scooters are different in that, No. 1, they are geared specifically for adults. In fact, riders are required to be licensed drivers. E-scooters can travel somewhere between 20 mph and 30 mph. Despite this, the Fort Lauderdale city leadership prohibited riders from operating the rental scooters on the street, instead insisting they remain on the sidewalk. Many other cities have concluded the opposite is safer. So, too, have manufacturers, given that instructions on some of the electric scooters themselves clearly indicate the devices aren’t to be operated on sidewalks. Whether this proves a liability issue for the city remains unclear.
E-scooters have proven popular because they are not only affordable, but accessible. Picking up where dockless bike share systems in many communities left off, dockless scooters can be nabbed from anywhere. Payment is made electronically and users can leave the scooters pretty much anywhere. The company then uses GPS trackers on the devices to retrieve them. This system has led to issues, however, because the scooters were being left haphazardly on sidewalks and in driveways, parking lots and even roads.
Although the city approved the scooters officially in 2018, reviews have been called for in light of a number of serious injuries and even deaths. City officials have been asked to examine potential geographic boundaries, specific hours of operation and designated parking areas to keep sidewalks clear.What Type of Scooter Injuries are Most Common?
Some of the injuries that have been reported by e-scooter riders (per a 2019 analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association) revealed the most frequent were:
- Head injuries – 40 percent
- Fractures – 32 percent
- Cuts, sprains or bruises without fracture – 28 percent
The most common cause of injuries, per the researchers, are:
- Falls – 74 percent
- Collisions with objects – 10 percent
- Struck by another moving vehicle, such as car, bicycle or other e-scooters – 8 percent
Most people hurt were riders, while about 8 percent were bystanders struck by a scooter or who stumbled/crashed over one.
Although many of these same potential injuries have bene reported with use of Segways (the two-wheeled “transporters” that first started cropping up in the early aughts), but e-scooter injuries are proving more common because their low cost, popularity and accessibility across a broad spectrum means more people are using them than ever used Segways.
In the first three months after Fort Lauderdale approved the use of dockless e-scooters, some 320,000 rides were logged tallying more than 460,000 traveled miles.Liability for E-Scooter Injuries in Fort Lauderdale
Liability claims for e-scooter injuries in South Florida have primarily been made against the service providers (Lime, Bird, etc.), with other claims against drivers of other motor vehicles and even manufacturers.
One scooter model was recalled globally after distributors at Lime revealed there was a potential for them to fall apart while in use, posing a serious injury risk. Soon thereafter, the company launched a new-and-improved e-scooter with “additional safety features.” The firm also added $1 million in liability service for each ride.
To learn more about legal options after a Fort Lauderdale Scooter Accident, contact our injury lawyers for a free initial consultation.
For information on legal action following an injury in Fort Lauderdale, contact The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or (954) 761-3641.