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Who Is Liable in a Dockless Bird Scooter Accident?

December 19, 2018 by The Sawaya Law Firm

Escooter accident happening along the pedestrian lane.

All over the country, e-scooters put out by companies such as Bird are becoming a hot trend. This is especially true in urban areas like Denver. These scooters are dockless. So, they do not need to be mounted to a rack. In many of the cities where these e-scooters are operated, you can find them laying around outside of businesses and ready for use wherever and whenever a person needs one.

Because electronic scooters are neither bicycles nor skateboards, they defy some of the usual rules of use. For instance, a city may not permit people to ride them on sidewalks –even though many people may completely disregard this rule. They are also, technically, not “street legal” for use on roads. Some communities may allow people to ride the scooters in designated bike lanes, while many others prohibit them from bike lanes.

Due to the unusual and sometimes confusing nature of “Bird scooters,” many people have suffered serious injuries while using them. If you suffer an injury while riding one of these scooters in Denver or elsewhere in Colorado, The Sawaya Law Firm wants to hear your story. We are aggressive, determined and experienced litigators that are devoted to helping injured people to pursue just compensation for their injuries.

Where Can People Legally Ride Bird Scooters in Colorado?

Some states treat these devices similar to mopeds and motorized bicycles. Colorado is not one of them. In our state, each city has its own local rules that determine where people can ride e-scooters.

For instance, Denver rejects treating Bird scooters as “low-power scooters,” a term that typically refers to devices such as electric wheelchairs. The city has rules in place which require scooter operators to yield to pedestrians and stay out of bike lanes. Denver requires that they be operated on sidewalks. Additionally, under Denver scooter rules:

  • Riders must observe all “no ride” and “no parking” areas in the city.
  • Riders must park the dockless devices in a way that does not impede pedestrian travel and does not obstruct entrances and walkways.
  • Riders can never operate the scooters on streets or roads.

If a scooter operator violates one of these rules in Denver, and the violation causes the operator to suffer injuries, then it will likely hurt the rider’s ability to recover compensation for his or her injuries.

Common Types of Bird Scooter Accidents

Not all scooter accidents are the same. Liability in an accident involving one of these devices generally will depend on what a person using an ordinary degree of caution would have done under the same or similar circumstances. If a person fails to exercise ordinary, reasonable caution, and that failure causes someone else to suffer injuries in a Bird scooter accident, then that person should be held liable.

Consider the following potential scenarios:

Car hits scooter. Perhaps the most common example of a collision is when a motor vehicle driver fails to acknowledge or even see the operator of a Bird scooter. Because the scooter moves faster than one would expect a person to normally move, it can be a bit deceiving. Still, if you are the operator of a scooter, and you are legally operating in an area with a considerable density of other scooters, it only stands to reason that drivers should be on notice and use caution.

Scooters hits another scooter. Don’t discount the injuries a person can suffer when two e-scooter operators collide with each other. Some of these devices can travel at speeds as fast as 15 miles per hour. Imagine two people traveling that fast and hitting each other at full speed. Broken bones, head injuries and even serious permanent disabilities can result.

Pedestrian and scooter collide. Some pedestrians are very careless. They may do things to cause a scooter operator to be forced into traffic or an object such as a tree or pole, or they may walk directly in the path of a scooter that has the right of way.

Another scenario to consider is one in which a defect with the Bird scooter causes an accident. The defect may be a design or manufacturing defect, in which case the manufacturer of the scooter may potentially be liable. If the defect arose from negligent inspection, maintenance or repair of the scooter, then the party in charge of those tasks could be liable.

General Considerations in Bird Scooter Accidents

Each case is unique. However, here are some general considerations in Bird scooter accidents:

Right of way. In Colorado, an e-scooter must yield to pedestrians. However, vehicles are required to yield to scooters in most situations. The applicable right of way will always play a role in determining liability.  

Distracted and drunk drivers. If the driver of a vehicle is operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if the driver is distracted by texting or talking on the phone, then the driver is likely at fault in a collision with a Bird scooter operator. Everyone has a duty to look out for others on the road and around them in public. If the other person was acting unreasonably or in a way that society knows is generally unsafe (such as speeding or driving while drunk or distracted), then that person likely will be held responsible for the accident.

Evidence of liability. While it may be clear to you that the other person involved was at fault, you should never count on an insurance company to see it the same way. Insurance companies are notorious for looking out for their own interests. So, it can be very helpful to work with an attorney who knows how to obtain the evidence needed to a case and protect a clients’ rights when dealing with insurance companies.

What Should I Do If I Have Been Hurt in a Bird Scooter Accident?

If you have suffered an injury while riding a dockless Bird scooter, you should take a few basic steps to protect your rights, including:

Call 911. It’s important to document the fact that you were involved in an accident. Because there may be no damage to a car, it can be tempting to let the driver leave the scene. Instead, make sure to get the driver’s name and contact information. Call for police and first responders. This creates a record and allows you to make sure any injuries are treated promptly.

Get medical attention. Don’t wait weeks to seek medical attention. It’s always best to be evaluated at the hospital. Many serious injuries take weeks to fully manifest. By then, you could be in terrible pain. However, the insurance company will often deny coverage, claiming that the delay in treatment serves as evidence that you were not really injured.

Call an attorney. Before you speak to insurance adjusters or give a statement to anyone, call and speak to an attorney who can advise you on your rights and help you to pursue the compensation you deserve.

Our Denver Bird Scooter Accident Lawyers Are Here for You

For help after a Bird scooter accident in Denver or elsewhere in Colorado, contact The Sawaya Law Firm. Our consultations are free, and we will charge a fee only if we secure compensation for you.

Michael G Sawaya

Michael established The Sawaya Law Firm in 1977 and built it into one of the largest personal injury law firms in Colorado, with more than 20 lawyers and 80 staff members serving clients from five offices located in Denver, Greeley and Colorado Springs. Throughout its history, the firm has stayed true to its 12 Core Values, which emphasize excellence in advocacy and a commitment to providing outstanding client service. Michael studied sociology and economics as an undergraduate student at The Colorado College, and he earned his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law. In addition to being involved in several legal and community organizations, Michael enjoys playing music and cooking, and he has written a book on spiritual matters.

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