Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Catherine Lerer
Local Lawyer 

Potential For Injury is High on Electric Scooters by Bird and Lime

The injuries being suffered include: head injuries and fractured ankles, tibias, fibulas, clavicles, wrists, ulnas.

 

New riders struggle to control scooters

Riders and pedestrians are suffering serious injuries. I know this because my husband and I are Santa Monica personal injury attorneys and we are getting calls DAILY by injury victims:

• Riders injured when the brakes fail – This is the most common call we get

• Pedestrians injured when they are hit by a rider or lunge to get out of the way and are injured

The injuries being suffered include: head injuries and fractured ankles, tibias, fibulas, clavicles, wrists, ulnas.

Anyone who's ridden them knows that these scooters are often in horrible disrepair. Riders subject them to abuse, treating them like a toy. Vandals are cutting brake cables. I have seen cut brake lines on scooters in Santa Monica. My big concern: the scooter companies are not inspecting the scooters between rides. They place that burden on the rider, who is responsible for assessing the safety of the scooter before riding it. How is a layperson qualified to do this? Unless you see that the brake line is cut, you have no idea that the brakes don't work until you are riding it and the brakes fail.

Riders probably don't realize that when they signed up, the Bird and Lime apps made them sign a User Agreement. Bird's user agreement is 16 printed pages long. Lime's is 46 printed pages. Nobody reads these things – except attorneys. Contained in the user agreements:

• Disclaimer that the scooters are safe: Rider agrees to assume all risk, and that the scooter is provided "as is," and Lime/Bird do not represent that the scooter is in good repair

• Waiver of liability: Rider agrees to release Bird/Lime from all liability

• Assumption of the risk: Rider assumes all risks for injuries

• Police reporting requirement: Rider must report a crash involving injury to police within 24 hours. The problem here: the police won't take a report if no motor vehicle is involved. My clients have tried and been turned away by police

Will I be able to get my clients compensation for their injuries? I don't know. Injured riders may be out of luck because of the draconian user agreement they signed. Injured pedestrians are out of luck if they didn't get the contact information for the rider that injured them – often the case because the rider never stops.

Who's going to pick up the tab for these injuries? Not Bird or Lime. It'll be the cities when they are sued because a rider crashes after hitting a pothole. (Last year, the city of LA paid 6.5M to a bicyclist injured when he hit a pothole.) Or the state because Medi-Cal will be paying the medical bills for injury victims who have no health insurance.

I'm hearing everyone say the same thing: It's only a matter of time until somebody is killed. I truly believe this. It's so sad that maybe only then will the city or the state finally do something.

-Catherine Lerer

 

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