Shared electronic scooters give people in the urban areas of Maryland an alternative form of transportation to get around cities. However, if an accident happens, who will be liable for the damages? E-scooter accidents can cause serious injuries, especially when the person riding the scooter does not know how to brake properly or is distracted or inexperienced. Individuals who are harmed in these accidents should consider talking to an experienced Silver Spring personal injury attorney at Goldberg Finnegan to find out if they may be eligible to receive compensation for their accident. Our licensed lawyers are ready to analyze the circumstances of your claim to determine who may be liable for the accident and the legal options available to you.
Background on E-Scooters
E-scooters were made to provide inexpensive transportation, decongest traffic and reduce pollution. Some cities have supported these goals and implemented programs to make these devices available to the public. Private companies have now offered these scooters for short-distance trips.
Riders typically sign up for the program through an app and are charged a flat rental fee and a per-minute surcharge for each ride. Then, they leave the device wherever they want or at designated locations. The next user then picks up the scooter and goes on their own ride. Often, the app shows the location of nearby scooters, so people know where to find them.
Lack of Regulations
One of the problems with e-scooters is a lack of regulations. Companies swoop in and start renting these devices out before governments have time to implement regulations. In Maryland, the governor signed HB748 on April 30, 2019, establishing that electric low speed scooters are considered bicycles for purposes of the Maryland Vehicle Law.
Under Maryland law, bicyclists must:
- Abide by the same rules as motorists
- Ride with the flow of traffic as close to the right side of the road as is practical
- Wear a helmet if they are under the age of 16
- Yield to pedestrians when riding on a sidewalk (sidewalk riding is allowed by local ordinances)
Dangers of E-Scooters
One of the main reasons for e-scooter accidents is riders are inexperienced. They do not realize the potential for accidents because they think riding an e-scooter is just a fun way to get around. Unfortunately, they are putting themselves and others at risk of injury. Accidents may also be more likely because drivers and pedestrians are not used to sharing sidewalks and roadways with scooters. Not watching for these vehicles and rider inexperience create a high risk for accidents.
Since the scooters can be spread all around town, they may not be consistently maintained. Some may be dangerous or defective.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
The answer to this question depends on the factors that contributed to the accident. Some responsible parties may include:
- The rider – Many accidents involving e-scooters are caused by the rider, who may have been speeding or distracted. Pedestrians who are hit by scooters while on the sidewalk may have a cause of action against the rider.
- Driver – If you are using an e-scooter properly and are hit by a car, the driver of the car may be held liable. Drivers are expected to watch for pedestrians, bicyclists and e-scooters and yield the right of way when required by law.
- Scooter manufacturer – If the scooter is defective, the scooter manufacturer may be to blame for the accident.
- Scooter company – They could be held responsible if an accident was caused by a poorly-maintained scooter, such as one with malfunctioning brakes or broken handlebars.
Contact Goldberg Finnegan for Help
With scooters becoming more popular in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas, accidents involving them are becoming more common. If you were injured in an e-scooter accident, it is important that you understand your legal rights.
An experienced Goldberg Finnegan attorney is prepared to discuss the circumstances surrounding your claim and whether compensation is available for the damages you sustained.