Scooters have come a long way from their status as an old-school child's toy. Today's e-scooters are sleek, colorful, and electronically powered. They've grown up into a popular, eco-friendly mode of transportation. They are in a unique vehicle class with micromobility devices like hoverboards, self-balancing scooters, and other non-licensed modes of transportation.
With app-enabled rental availability, anyone with a smartphone can borrow a powered scooter instead of walking to their destination. That easy accessibility has given power-driven scooters a boost in use and popularity. It's also positioned them as a growing source of accidents and injuries.
People are showing up at Tampa emergency rooms with scooter-related injuries. They occur when riders lose control of their devices or when they collide with a motor vehicle, a stationary object, or another scooter. Scooter defects also cause accidents and injuries. While some of the injuries sustained are minor, others are serious, catastrophic or even fatal.
If you were seriously injured in a scooter accident, you may need our Tampa Scooter Accident Lawyers to review the circumstances and determine if a negligent person or corporate entity is responsible for your damages.
Responsible Parties Must Pay for The Injuries They Cause
At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Accident Injury Lawyers, we have followed the developing trends in motorized scooters and micromobility transportation. Our attorneys have tracked scooter accidents, and we've noticed an increase in injuries.
We've monitored the Florida State Legislature and Tampa city council as they've struggled to keep our laws in sync with e-scooters and other transportation innovations. We understand the liability and damage issues. We've used what we know to determine the negligent parties, track down the evidence, and recover damages for our clients.
If you or your family member sustained injuries due to a scooter accident or an accident with any other micromobility device, the responsible parties should pay for your damages. Our attorneys have handled complicated accident cases, and we've always worked hard to produce the best results possible.
Our Firm's Results
Our attorneys have dedicated their time and energy to help injured clients recover the damages to which they're entitled. When possible, we've resolved cases with responsible individuals and corporations. We have engaged in aggressive negotiations, mediations, and settlement conferences with liability insurance companies and defense attorneys. When it was the best option for our clients, we've had no problem presenting our evidence in a courtroom and relying on a jury to deliver the right results.
As each case is unique, we can't promise a specific outcome. We can, however, invite you to review our case results; we believe they demonstrate our strong commitment to our injured clients.
E-Scooters: A Growing Trend
If you ask your parents or grandparents to talk about scooters, you'll likely hear fun tales about their childhood alternative to bicycles. Scooters have advanced well beyond that playful child's toy from decades ago, however. Modern manufacturers have redesigned them, added power, and repurposed the scooter to meet modern demands for efficient transportation in crowded urban settings.
What Is an E-Scooter?
The definition of the term scooter is contingent upon who you ask. A scooter can be a simple human-powered child's toy, or a motorized mobility device for seniors and impaired people. It can be a Segway top-of-the-line transport device, or a hoverboard that's rebranded as a “balancing scooter.”
When a person talks about scooters in an urban setting, they are usually talking about rented e-scooters marketed by companies like Lime Bird, Spin, Jump, or Lyft. Scooter companies simply leave the devices on sidewalks in major cities. They provide eco-friendly transportation for short in-town trips.
Users enter a virtual contract through an app to gain permission to use a scooter. They also use the app to submit payments. Scooter companies don't provide helmets or safety gear, and you must accept a virtual agreement before you use their equipment. One example is Lime's terms of service, which seeks to make a user responsible for issues that could contribute to accidents or injuries:
- Awareness of damage or excessive wear, and other safety issues.
Powered Scooters Have Actually Been Around Since 1915
A Smithsonian magazine article exploring the motorized scooter boom cites German Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun as the inventor of the first human-powered scooter in 1817. In 1915, Inventor Arthur Hugo Cecil Gibson received a patent for the first motorized scooter version. The Autoped company began mass-producing the Autoped in 1915. Scooter operators navigated city streets using an engine, clutch, and brake. In 1939 a 16-year-old received the first documented Autoped ticket for operating a vehicle without a license.
Florida Statutes Redefine Scooters in 2019
As of June 2019, Florida revamped its statutes to include modern scooters. Title XXIII, Chapter 316.2128 Micromobility devices, motorized scooters, and miniature motorcycles; requirements, gives all powered scooters and micromobility devices bicycle status. Operators are not required to obtain a driver's license. They don't have to register scooters as motor vehicles. The statute does allow cities and jurisdictions to pass their own laws and requirements.
Tampa's City Council Followed Suit
Tampa Bay launched a pilot program to determine the effects of shared scooters on the city. It lays out rules for where, how, and who can use them—Tampa requires users to hold a valid driver's license, though state law does not. The Tampa City Council has struggled to get accident data it can use to evaluate the program. Complaints have circulated about riders using them in prohibited areas, and serious accidents have taken place, one costing the victim $100,000, and another involving a tanker truck.
Scooter Accidents and Injuries
While powered scooters do provide simple, efficient transportation in crowded cities, riders regularly sustain injuries. As scooters are relatively new to city streets and some city users, they've not yet generated a comprehensive history. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association has no definitive accident studies as scooters don't fit within the definition of motor vehicles. Based on several independent studies, patterns of injury causation are beginning to emerge.
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Scooter injuries aren't always collision-related. As early as 2001, the CPSC issued warnings about scooter-related injuries. A press release explained that the agency had documented 2,250 emergency room visits. During the prior year, they received notice of 4,390 injuries. The CPSC posted multiple scooters and balancing scooter (aka) hoverboard recalls. Here are just a few.
- Segway: Their personal transporters had reverse torque issues that could cause falls.
- Segway: Lime's Ninebot Scooters caused fire and “smoldering” hazards.
- Performance Products Kruscher Scooter: The “down” tube can break and cause falls.
- Pulse performance electric child's scooter: The “knuckle joint” holding the wheel and axle can break and cause a fall.
- GLOPO children's scooters: The front wheel can detach and cause a fall.
- Kickboard: The child's scooter was a laceration hazard.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied dockless scooter-related accidents in Austin, Texas. For 87 days, a team documented accidents and interviewed 271 potentially injured patients named in Emergency Department reports. Of the 158 scooter riders interviewed:
- 130 scooter riders sustained injuries.
- 20 percent of the injured victims were hospitalized.
- 45 percent of the injured riders sustained head injuries.
- 27 percent had an upper extremity fracture.
- 12 percent sustained a lower extremity fracture.
- 52 percent of the injured people were operating their e-scooters in the street.
- 29 percent of the accidents involved first-time scooter riders.
- 18 percent of the scooter accident involved motor vehicles.
Accidents occur due to potholes, cracks, and other pavement issues. Based on the study statistics, the CDC estimates an accident rate of 14.3 accidents per 100,000 trips.
Tampa General Hospital
The Tampa Bay Times article on scooter-related injuries reviewed data provided by the Tampa General Hospital's director of emergency medicine, Dr. David Wein. Scooter riders visited the emergency department with “sprained ankles, bruises, concussions, and other injuries.” Some of the accidents involved vehicle collisions. He also explained that scooter accidents are difficult to track, as people use the term to describe motorized devices.
Who Is Responsible for Scooter Accident Injuries?
Depending on the circumstances of a scooter accident or mishap, several entities often share responsibility for the damages.
- Vehicle accident: When a vehicle strikes a scooter, the driver is responsible for the damages. When someone else causes an accident while using a vehicle, the owner shares their liability. The owner is also negligent if they loaned their vehicle to a driver with a known adverse driving history. To learn more intricacies regarding YOUR car accident in Tampa speaking with a skilled attorney can determine the whole difference.
- Scooter owner: If a rented scooter has maintenance or safety issues, the owner is responsible for correcting them or hiring someone to perform maintenance and repairs.
- Truck accident: in the event of a Tampa truck accident the drivers are responsible for their actions on the road. If they're driving for a common carrier within the scope of their job duties, the owner and employer share liability. If the owner or employer knew of an existing driving issue with their employee and let him drive anyway, they have a shared responsibility for negligent entrustment.
- Maintenance and repair contractor: A maintenance or repair company is responsible for their part in failing to maintain a scooter in a safe condition or repairing it as required.
- Scooter manufacturer: A scooter manufacturer, designer, or distributor share liability if they design or manufacture a scooter with a defect that causes or contributes to an accident.
What Damages Can a Scooter Accident Victim Recover?
When an injured victim settles a liability case, they often receive economic damages and general damages. In some cases, a jury may award punitive damages.
Economic damages are the total out-of-pocket costs incurred following an injury. An economic expert may project future costs if the injured person is still receiving treatment when the case settles. Economic damages include:
- Emergency treatment
- Doctor and hospital bills
- Physical therapy
- Psychological therapy
- Prosthetics and mobility equipment
- Lost income
- Funeral and burial expenses
General damages pay for the emotional and psychological damages from an injury. Settlements often rely on assessing the value of an injured person's emotional, psychological, and social concerns. General damages sometimes include:
- Pain and suffering
- Anxiety and emotional distress
- Diminished spousal relationships
- Changes in family relationships
- Lost bodily functions
- Scars and disfigurement
- Wrongful death
Based on Florida Statutes, 768.72, juries have the right to award punitive damages to punish a defendant. A plaintiff must prove with “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant acted intentionally or was grossly negligent; while punitive damages are rare, they may be awarded in particularly egregious cases.
Scooter Liability Coverage Issues
When a vehicle causes a scooter accident, the driver can file a claim under their auto liability coverage. When a person sustains an injury in a scooter to scooter collision or with a pedestrian, the insurance issues get more complicated. Even if you prove negligence, there's a chance that a scooter operator won't have the liability insurance to cover the damages.
At present, widespread motorized scooter use is such a new phenomenon, insurance carriers have not yet filled the liability coverage gaps in their policies. Homeowners and general liability policies exclude motor vehicle, aircraft, and watercraft exposures. Vehicle policies exclude two-wheeled vehicles. As scooters aren't considered motor vehicles, at least not in Florida, traditional liability exclusions shouldn't apply.
Scooter liability issues have likely taken insurers by surprise. Given the potential for damages and injuries, they will quickly scramble to rework the liability coverage portions of their policies and definitively exclude them from coverage. If they find that the liability exposures aren't that significant, insurers may increase premiums and include the coverage in the next policy version or by endorsement.
In the meantime, if you are a motorized scooter owner or renter, the National Association Of Insurance Commissioners recommends that you check your policies to make sure your liability exposures are covered if you're involved in an accident. They also recommend purchasing a personal liability umbrella policy.
How Do Responsible Parties Defend Themselves?
- As insurers sort through their scooter coverage issues, they may deny coverage for liability claims. They might also minimize their risks by accepting the duty to defend but refusing to pay for damages.
- If a vehicle collides with your scooter and causes damages and injuries, their auto liability carrier will handle their claim. As scooters and micromobility devices are treated as bicycles, you would be entitled to pip benefits under your auto policy and those benefits would be primary. To avoid paying damages, a vehicle insurer may attempt to prove that your injuries aren't serious enough to meet the PIP tort threshold.
- Scooter rental companies use contracts to limit their responsibility for safety issues. Before a user can access their devices, they must agree to the rental company's terms, some of which place an unreasonable burden on the user. Their user agreements ask their customers to assume responsibility for safety, maintenance, and performance.
- Some manufacturers have spotty manufacturing histories yet they still try to avoid liability for product defects. They often deny that a defect exists and force the injured person to prove the problem alleged. They realize that the costs to prove a defect usually diminish a plaintiff's potential damages without guaranteeing a recovery.
- When a negligence case goes to trial, defendants often plead no liability or comparative negligence hoping the court will find in their favor.
Our attorneys understand that strong case preparation is the best way to meet courtroom and negotiation challenges. We've always begun the process during the early stages of our clients' pending cases. We've reviewed the evidence and evaluated the issues. By the time we've met a defense team face-to-face, we've been fully prepared to present our case and overcome their creative defenses.
Tampa Scooter Accident FAQ
Scooters can make it easier to get around town, especially in the bustling Tampa area. Unfortunately, scooter accidents can result in severe injuries for their victims: traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, broken bones, and severe road rash are just a few examples, all of which can have lifelong implications for the victims. Contact our experienced scooter accident attorneys as soon after your accident as possible if you have questions that pertain to your specific claim.
1. How long do I have to file a personal injury claim after a Tampa scooter accident?
In Tampa, you need to file your scooter accident claim before the statute of limitations runs out. However, many exceptions apply that can extend the statute of limitations and help you get the compensation you deserve following a scooter accident in the Tampa area. Contact our scooter accident attorneys to discuss your claim, including how long ago it occurred and any specific factors that could influence the statute of limitations.
2. When should I contact an attorney after a scooter accident?
Ideally, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after your scooter accident. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner that attorney can:
- Collect evidence on your behalf. Some evidence becomes harder to find the longer you wait to start the investigation. Witnesses' memories of the event, for example, may fade quickly. Video footage of the event, including footage from traffic cameras, may get deleted soon after the accident. As soon as you contact an attorney, the firm can start collecting evidence that could help prove your claim.
- Provide you with crucial advice about your claim. How much compensation do you really deserve for a scooter injury? How long should you expect your claim to take? Should you accept an offer from the insurance company that covers the driver who caused the accident? You may have many questions about your accident and your legal rights. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible will answer those questions and help maximize the compensation you can receive for your injuries.
3. If I forgot to wear my helmet or chose not to wear my helmet at the time of the accident, do I still have grounds for a scooter accident claim for a traumatic brain injury?
Probably. Florida riders must legally wear a helmet while riding a motorized scooter until the rider reaches 21 years old. Riders without a helmet are three times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury than riders who choose to wear a helmet while riding. Scooter accident victims may worry that failure to wear a helmet and protect themselves at the time of the accident will limit their ability to seek compensation for their injuries. However, failure to wear a helmet does not absolve other reckless drivers from their conduct; parties who cause accidents or injuries may still be held liable.
Fortunately, whether you wore a helmet or not, you could still have the right to seek compensation for your scooter accident injuries, including a traumatic brain injury.
4. How much compensation should I expect from my scooter accident?
You may find yourself with serious financial concerns following a severe scooter accident. As a result, you need substantial compensation—but how much should you really expect?
Who caused your accident? The party that caused your accident can have a substantial impact on the compensation you receive for your injuries. If a driver who carries minimum liability insurance causes your accident, for example, you might receive a maximum of $10,000 of bodily injury coverage. Other factors, however, may contribute to your accident. When other parties share liability for your injuries, it can increase the compensation you receive.
A mechanical error caused the accident. In the event of a mechanical error, the manufacturer of the malfunctioning vehicle may share liability for your injuries. A mechanic who recently worked on that vehicle, whether your scooter or the other driver's car, may also share liability for the accident.
A commercial driver caused your accident. The company that employs a commercial driver may share liability for the accident, especially if:
- The company requires the driver to drive excessive hours
- The company fails to properly maintain the vehicle, leading to an accident
- The company requires the driver to continue driving in spite of unsafe conditions
Multiple contributing factors in your accident could provide you with multiple parties to file a scooter accident claim against. As a result, you may substantially increase the compensation you can receive for your injuries. Consult our scooter accident attorneys to get a better idea of who caused or contributed to your accident and how that may impact the compensation you can receive.
What do your financial losses look like after the accident? A scooter accident claim can help provide compensation for your losses as a result of a scooter accident, including both immediate/clearly-defined financial losses and more abstract losses.
Work with an attorney to clearly calculate your financial losses from the accident, including:
- Medical bills. The medical bills associated with your accident can add up fast. Emergency care alone may cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on the extent of your injuries. Make sure to keep track of all medical bills so when you file your scooter accident claim, you can include all of those expenses.
- Lost wages. Lost time at work can leave you struggling to bring in the money you need to pay those bills. Unfortunately, you may miss out on time at work due to your injuries. Include your lost wages as part of your scooter accident claim.
- Pain and suffering. You may not have physical costs from pain and suffering, but you may still experience substantial limitations related to your accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you include pain and suffering in your scooter accident claim.
5. Who pays my medical bills after my Tampa scooter accident?
A scooter accident can leave you with significant medical bills. You may deserve compensation for those expenses, but that does not mean that the person or entity that caused your accident can pay those medical bills for you immediately. Ultimately, as the injured party and the one receiving services to help you recover, you must find a way to pay your medical bills.
However, you have several options that can help you manage that expense after your accident.
- Start with your personal injury protection insurance. All Florida drivers must carry personal injury protection insurance that provides a minimum of $10,000 in compensation for your medical bills and lost wages after an accident. You can use your personal injury protection insurance regardless of who caused your accident. You will provide your personal injury protection insurance information to the hospital and other medical providers immediately after your accident. You must use your personal injury protection insurance before you can file a claim.
- Use your medical insurance. Your medical insurance will often help provide payment for any medical expenses not covered through your personal injury protection insurance and your scooter accident claim. Contact your medical insurance provider after your accident. Let them know how your injuries occurred and when. Contacting your medical insurance company can help streamline the approval of your medical bills, which will prevent you from getting unexpected medical bills down the road.
- Have an attorney help you write a letter of protection. A letter of protection establishes your intent to pay your medical bills once you receive compensation from the entities liable for your accident. Once you submit a letter of protection, your medical care providers cannot send your bill to collection until you receive compensation for your injuries. For many scooter accident victims, this can help prevent financial problems as you wait for compensation for those expenses.
In the case of significant bills, you may also want to contact the hospital to find out what payment arrangements you can make or what options they have for people who cannot afford to pay those bills. Many hospitals have programs in place that can help decrease your bills and make it easier for you to pay, especially as your medical bills continue to add up throughout your recovery.
6. How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim after a scooter accident?
Accident victims deserve compensation quickly for your scooter accident. Unfortunately, you may have to wait before you can receive compensation.
How long it takes will depend on:
- When you file your scooter accident claim. The longer you wait to file your scooter accident claim, the longer it can take both sides to seek the evidence they need to help build a case. It may take longer to hunt down witnesses or find relevant footage of the accident itself.
- How long it takes to fully understand the extent of your injuries and the long-term limitations they will cause in your life. It takes time to understand how much of a recovery you will make from many types of injuries. Some victims of a traumatic brain injury, for example, may see side effects for up to a year after the accident itself, even in the case of minor injury—while others may recover their normal faculties within a matter of weeks. Victims of spinal cord injuries, on the other hand, may not know how much progress they will make until six months after the accident. While you should consult an attorney as soon as possible after your accident, you may want to wait until you progress further through your recovery to file your scooter accident claim, since the extent of your recovery can determine how much compensation you receive.
- How much money you ask for in compensation. Often, the insurance company that covers the entity that caused your accident will settle more easily if you ask for a relatively low amount of money than if you ask for a high sum. On the other hand, if you have serious injuries and high medical bills as well as long-term limitations on your life, you may deserve substantial compensation for your injuries. You might need more time to arrive at a settlement both you and the insurance company can agree on if you need significant compensation.
- How much you want to negotiate. The insurance company that covers the liable entity will often provide you with a settlement offer soon after the accident. If you accept that offer, it can put the funds you need in your hands fast. That offer, however, may minimize the compensation you could receive. You can also accept a settlement offer at any point during the negotiation process. The longer you negotiate, the longer it can take to reach a settlement agreement. If you need to take your claim to court, it can take even longer to reach an agreement, and therefore even longer to get that settlement in your hands.
- If you have a lawyer on your side. An attorney can help with the negotiation process to get the funds you need in your hands sooner after an accident. In many cases, simply working with an attorney can increase the offer the insurance company provides, which can in turn make you more likely to accept the offer.
7. What types of vehicles count as scooters in a scooter accident claim?
Sometimes, scooters are simply a child's toy: a skateboard-style board with a handle, propelled by one foot on the ground. In other cases, scooters may include personal motorized vehicles used to move around town: both those used by tourists and residents looking for a faster, easier way to travel than on foot and those used by elderly and disabled individuals to make transportation easier. Many cities, including Tampa, allow scooter rentals to help residents and guests alike get around.
All of these devices count as scooters. Users of these scooters should follow the same rules as pedestrians on the road and sidewalks, including following appropriate traffic signals. Likewise, however, drivers of motor vehicles should offer scooter drivers the same courtesies as pedestrians, including yielding to them in crosswalks and taking care to avoid collisions.
Call Our Tampa Scooter Accident Attorneys
If you or a family member were injured in a scooter accident or by a defective scooter, you may be entitled to recover damages for your injuries. The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have convenient office locations along both Florida coasts. We've helped our clients recover millions of dollars in damages, and we'd like to determine if we can help you. Call us at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or complete our contact form for a free consultation.
13513 Prestige Pl. Suite 103
Tampa, FL 33635