Around the country, states are gradually beginning to lift COVID-19 restrictions while more and more people return to daily routines like commuting. However, many people in urban areas like Charlotte are still hesitant to use crowded forms of transportation that previously ran their routines, like buses and trains. The concept of micro-mobility (defined by small, lightweight vehicles that typically operate below 15/mph and are driven by users personally) has been rising in popularity and relevance all around urban areas for the past few years now. This includes modes of transportation like bicycles, electric skateboards, e-bikes, and e-scooters.
If you live in the Charlotte area and frequent high-traffic hot spots like uptown, you have undoubtedly seen e-scooters like Limes and Birds scattered around the city or zipping through the streets. Although these were already a popular form of transportation even before COVID-19 made its impact, it’s predicted that the trend will gain even more popularity in wake of COVID as an easy, accessible, low-cost mode of public transportation that doesn’t require interaction with any other individuals. Despite the popularity and benefits of this transportation trend, some are concerned about the potential risk to public safety they pose.
Recent city reports have reflected a spike in e-scooter related injuries such as facial contusions, broken bones including arms, shoulders, and wrists, along with ankle sprains. Fortunately, there have been no e-scooter related fatalities reported in Charlotte, but the City Council has adopted new rules to mandate e-scooter share programs in the wake of growing safety concerns. The new rules were adopted under the Pilot Program and titled the “E-Scooter Share Program”, which covers everything from guidelines of how and where to operate the scooters, as well as safety requirement policies including helmet use and speed limit ― you can find the full text of rules here. Additionally, the State of North Carolina classifies e-scooters as vehicles, meaning that all traffic laws apply including riding on the right side of the road, following all traffic signals, and operating the machine sober.
Regardless of enforceable laws put in place to protect people, like any form of transportation, not everybody follows the rules, and accidents still happen regardless. Even if an incident is not at the fault of any rider, there have been increasing reports of e-scooters malfunctioning, most often in the case of failed brakes and stuck throttles. These glitches can obviously create serious safety risks, not only to the rider but to other vehicles and pedestrians on the road. E-scooter accidents and injuries are treated like any typical vehicle action, with safety taking initial priority followed by an official accident report to law enforcement. A personal injury firm like Charles Monnett III & Associates should be consulted to help you solve liability and other issues with the insurance companies that will be involved.
When considering your safety when using shared e-scooters, it’s important to note that many popular brands that own these vehicles are cautious to avoid any liability for a user’s injury. One of the leading brands in the industry, Lime, includes a waiver of liability in their User Agreement & Terms of Service, which is necessary for every user to agree to before operating a vehicle. The agreement states that “you hereby waive any and all claims, including those based in contract, tort (including negligence), statutory, and/or other grounds, even if Lime or any of the other released persons has been advised of the possibility of such claims.” Going on to also say “you agree that the Products are machines that may malfunction, even if the Products are properly maintained, and that such malfunction may cause injury.”
With these kinds of attempts to waive liability for the purpose of protecting these insurance companies, it’s important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney if you have an accident or injury that is the fault of the company’s negligence or another driver. Our team at Charles G. Monnett & Associates is always here to advocate for you in the event of a vehicle accident, including e-scooter incidents.
Learn more about our experience in helping people who have been victims of another’s negligence here.