Just as California was taking steps to legalize the use of electric scooters without a helmet, a fatal accident involving Lime Scooters took place in Dallas, Texas. This was the first fatality to be reported nationwide since these devices first started appearing on the streets of Southern California and then spreading throughout the country’s major cities like wildfire over the past year. According to an article on the Dallas accident from the Washington Post, the incident took place when a young man was riding his Lime electric scooter home from the restaurant he works at late at night in early September. The decedent, who was 24 years old, was not wearing a helmet when he fell or was knocked off his scooter. He was found by emergency responders more than a hundred yards from his scooter, which was broken in half. When originally found, he was unconscious and badly injured, but later died from his injuries. His death was ruled an accident, but an autopsy found that he died of blunt force trauma to his head. This incident calls into question whether California’s recent move to ban helmets is the right move for electric scooter riders, considering both the circumstances in which the Dallas decedent was found as well as the larger problem of drivers not giving sufficient room or respect to other types of vehicles on the road, whether they be electric scooters, mopeds, motorcycles, skateboards, bikes or pedestrians.
The scooters manufactured by Lime, Bird, Skip and several other companies that have taken many cities by surprise with their instant popularity differ from mopeds or electric bicycles in that they allow a user to stand up and ride at a speed far in excess of walking or riding a traditional bike. They resemble a traditional scooter that used to be powered by a person pushing him or herself along with his or her foot, but come equipped with an engine to power the vehicle. They were originally conceived to be a solution for the last mile problem faced by many people who take public transit, namely that a bus, subway, or train may not take them either the first or last mile between their office and home. This can leave the person exposed to the elements, particularly in places where it may rain frequently or get extremely hot in the summer, and at risk of being late to work every day. The scooters are also being pushed in California as a means to reduce pollution and the use of minimal (or no) emission transportation in a state with notorious smog problems in its largest urban centers.
Although previously the state prohibited the use of electric scooters like that used by the deceased individual in Dallas without wearing a helmet, a recently passed law just signed by California governor Jerry Brown now permits individuals using the vehicles to elect not to wear a helmet if they are over the age of 18. The law also permits electric scooter riders to utilize the vehicles on streets where the speed limit is up to 35 mph if permitted by a local municipality. Prior California law did not allow riders of motorized scooters to ride on sidewalks, carry passengers, or ride a scooter without a valid driver’s license. The law also allows room for cities to impose stricter requirements, such as Los Angeles, which requires that electric scooter companies advise riders they must wear helmets.
As any cyclist or pedestrian can tell you, very rarely do motor vehicle drivers properly respect the rights of other individuals using different types of vehicles to share the road. Therefore, although some groups are sure to focus on the lack of a helmet requirement under this new law, the practical effect was also not to increase the requirements on motor vehicle drivers when interacting with those on electric scooters and, consequently, the safety of individuals on electric scooters. Just as is the case with those who may bike to work every day, electric scooter riders in California are likely to find that the use of these vehicles is dangerous for the very reason that cars may not given them sufficient room if they ride a scooter in the street or a motorist in a car even act aggressively towards someone on a scooter, increasing the chances of an accident in which the person on the scooter is most likely to be injured.
If you live in California and utilize an electric mobility device like a stand-up scooter and have been injured in a collision with a car or other type of motor vehicle, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at JT Legal Group at (888) 529-3111 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorneys handle all manner of personal injury claims, including similar types of claims like when a car strikes a pedestrian or a bicyclist. Without the help of a trusted personal injury law firm like JT Legal Group, your claim may be subject to getting pushed to the side or completely rejected. This is part of a For more information, including a free consultation regarding your particular situation, contact our firm immediately – we’re here to help you.
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