Electric Scooters: Eco-friendly or Dangerous?

If you’ve been hearing about cities adopting these electric scooter programs, where people can rent a scooter, get to their destination and just leave them, you might think they’re a good idea. As with all good ideas, there can be a downside.

For instance, nine people have filed a class-action suit against two electric scooter companies: Bird Rides, Inc. and Lime, and their manufacturers, Xiaomi Corp. and Segway Inc. Each of the nine people were injured by electric scooters, and are suing the companies for gross negligence, claiming the companies knew their products were dangerous and allowed them to be used in a way that made injuries inevitable.

These “e-scooters” made their debut in the U.S. in September 2017, starting with the firm Bird, and since then hundreds or riders and pedestrians have found themselves in the E.R. with injuries ranging from severe gravel/road rash to having teeth knocked out, as well as toenails ripped off and detached biceps, according to both the victims and their medical providers.

Even worse, three people have lost their lives due to riding the scooters in Dallas, Cleveland and Washington D.C.

Because hospitals code their patients due to the type of injury rather than what caused the injury, it’s hard to know officially how many scooter-related injuries there truly are around the nation. We do know, thanks to metrics tracked by the companies Bird and Lime, that there have been over 20 million e-scooter rides, and that number is growing every day.

As usual, Bird and Lime are startup companies looking to “disrupt” the transportation industry, and are trying to bring about a new, eco-friendly era of what they call “micro transportation”. Each of these companies have a Silicon Valley valuation of over $2 billion.

Yet, due to controversy, complaints and injuries, the companies have not had a completely smooth ride. Some cities, including Santa Monica and San Francisco, that temporarily banned e-scooters, citing fears over public safety. The cities have also filed criminal complaints against the companies behind them for operating without a business permit—as Santa Barbara recently did.

Some residents have taken matters into their own hands, by burying them in the sand, throwing them in the ocean, or even setting them on fire. Controversy? Yes, more than a little bit.

And perhaps deserved? According to the lawsuit, two plaintiffs were injured tripping over scooters that had been left on the sidewalk, four were rammed from behind as they walked, one of which was a 7-year-old boy who suffered severe damage to eight of his front teeth and a tear in his lip that required several stitches.

“These companies are putting profit over safety,” commented Catherine Lerer, the personal injury lawyer at McGee Lerer who represents the plaintiffs, during an interview for Bloomberg’s Decrypted podcast.

As always, we here at BMR Insurance Agency emphasize safety at all times, whether it’s wearing your seat belt at all times, not looking at your phone while driving (nope, not even at stoplights!), or wearing a helmet on a scooter, bike, motorcycle or ATCs. And if you have one of these e-scooters, they are easily stolen, so make sure it’s covered on your policy. Not sure if you’re covered? Call us at 714-838-1911 or send us an email: info@bmrins.com. Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn for all the latest and best information and advice on all insurance matters.

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