- Bird Scooter Injury Accidents
- Laws Related To Scooter Use
- Bird’s Safety Guidelines
- Statistics On Scooter Accidents
- Possible Injuries Suffered After Scooter Accidents
- Bird Scooter Accidents: Common Causes
- Understanding Bird Liability For Scooter Accidents
- The Right To File A Bird Scooter Accident Claim
- Bird Insurance Coverage
- Past Lawsuits Relating To Scooter Accidents
- Determining The Value Of A Claim And The Compensation Available For Recovery/a>
- The Importance Of Acting Appropriately After A Bird Scooter Accident
- Understanding The Statutes Of Limitations That Apply To Bird Scooter Injury Claims
- Seeking Legal Assistance For Your Injury Claim
Bird is a scooter-share company that is based in Santa Monica, California. Bird was founded in September 2017 by Travis VanderZanden – a now familiar name in rideshare and scooter-share industries. After just a few years of operation, Bird successfully operates in North America, Europe, and Asia – in over 100 cities. The scooter-share service designed for last-mile transportation has revolutionized the way people go from one place to the next. However, not everything has been positive. Over the short time that Bird scooters have been available for rental, there have been countless reports of accidents and injuries. Because these rental electric scooters are still recent to personal injury, there is constant confusion surrounding these accidents. Although riders might have a general understanding of the laws surrounding scooter use and the possibility of being involved in an accident, they are often unfamiliar with their right to take action after suffering injuries related to a Bird scooter. As Bird scooter accidents and injuries become more and more common, the lack of information available for riders and the general public has become problematic.
Laws Related To Scooter UseAlthough Bird scooters are still a relatively new transportation option, there are already many laws that apply to the use of electric scooters. In California, specifically, the following laws apply:
- Stand-up electric scooter riders must wear helmets when riding on the road.
- Electric scooters cannot travel faster than 15 mph.
- Electric scooters cannot be ridden on sidewalks.
- Electric scooters can be ridden on streets (on roads with speed limits under 25 mph).
- Electric scooters can be ridden in bike lanes (on roads with speed limits higher than 25 mph).
- Riders must have a valid license.
- When riding on the street, riders must keep close to the right curb (exceptions apply).
Bird’s Safety GuidelinesWithout a doubt, Bird is aware that misuse of their scooters can prove dangerous. Because of that, the company encourages safety. The following safety tips are available on Bird’s safety website:
- Riders must be 18 years or older.
- Wear a helmet to reduce your risk of head injuries.
- There should only be one rider per scooter.
- Always follow all traffic rules/signals.
- Always exercise caution at crosswalks and intersections.
- Always remain aware of surrounding traffic (avoid using headphones that could distract you).
- Always keep both hands on the handle bars.
- Give yourself time to adjust to the scooter’s accelerating and braking.
- Do not ride while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Do not ride on sidewalks unless permitted or required by local law (care/watch for pedestrians).
- Always ride in bike lanes or as close as possible to the right curb where both local/state law requires or permits doing so.
- Park Bird scooters out of public right of way (pedestrian right of way).
- Park Bird scooters close to the curb, facing the street. When available, scooters should be parked near designated parking areas, trees, and/or signs.
- Ensure that the scooter kickstand is secure to keep the Bird scooter upright when parked.
- Avoid uneven surfaces when parking the scooter.
Statistics On Scooter AccidentsAccording to statistics gathered and published by Consumer Reports, there has been approximately 1,500 injuries related to electric scooters (such as Bird) since late 2017. Both of the leading electric scooter companies, one of which is Bird, were founded in 2017, making this statistic even more striking. Unfortunately, very few statistics on scooter injuries exist – because hospitals do not always track these types of injuries. Research has shown that more people were injured while riding electric scooters than while riding bicycles or simply walking in a one-year period in Los Angeles. According date provided by JAMA Network Open, a total of 249 people went to the emergency room with injuries caused by these scooters. Although an overwhelming 91% of these parties where injured while riding the scooters, more than 8% of these parties where injured as non-riders (pedestrians, for example). These statistics also show that only 4.4% of these parties were actually wearing helmets when they suffered the scooter accidents. The study revealed that more than 40% of the people involved in scooter accidents suffered head injuries, more than 31% suffered fractures, and more than 27% suffered other minor injuries. Based on these statistics, scooter-related accidents and injuries are common – and will likely represent a higher number of accidents and injuries as electric scooters become more common; the electric scooter last-mile rental phenomenon that started with just two companies continues to grow. Eventually, hospitals will begin tracking scooter accidents as they become even more prominent. Until then, we will not know the true impact that the accidents involving electric scooters have on users.
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Possible Injuries Suffered After Scooter AccidentsWhen riding scooters, riders usually do not have any form of protection. Although helmets are required to ride Bird scooters, no one follows this rule. Unlike the drivers in normal vehicles, riders are not protected inside a metal cage and restrained by seatbelts. Because of this, scooter accidents usually result in a number of injuries – which could be fatal. Although no two accidents are the same, victims are likely to suffer some of the following injuries: sprains and strains; spinal cord injuries; shoulder injuries; nerve injuries; neck injuries; ligament injuries; lacerations; knee injuries; head injuries; fractured fingers/thumbs; fractured elbows; concussions; broken wrists; broken legs; broken hips; brain injuries; back injuries. Unfortunately, due to the nature of these accidents, it is always possible for victims to be struck, thrown into traffic, and run over by other vehicles. This increases the chances of fatalities. Pedestrians that are involved in scooter accidents can also suffer a number of injuries, although usually minor when compared to scooter riders that are struck by vehicles.
Bird Scooter Accidents: Common CausesIf you have ever seen anyone riding a Bird scooter along roads or if you have ever seen Bird scooters toppled over each other on sidewalks, you might have thought about how dangerous they could be to both users and non-users. As mentioned above, scooter accidents resulted in a surprising number of injuries in just the first year that these services were launched. Consider some of the most common causes of Bird scooter accidents:
- Reckless auto drivers: scooter riders are supposed to ride the scooters on the road; therefore, autos and electric scooters must share the road. Many drivers are reckless and pose a significant threat to scooter riders. When reckless drivers fail to give scooter riders enough space, fail to yield the right of way, and fail to follow traffic laws/signals, they pose a threat to scooter riders. Reckless auto drivers represent the possibility of scooter accidents and serious injuries.
- Reckless scooter riders: all scooter riders are required to adhere to the same traffic rules that apply to cars and all other motorized vehicles. When scooter riders are reckless, they are putting themselves in danger of being struck by autos. If they are riding on the sidewalk (even though they are required to ride on the street), they are putting innocent pedestrians at risk of being involved in an incident as well.
- Defective scooters: although products should always be safe to use and free of hazards prior to becoming available to consumers, this does not always happen. Some scooters are defective from the start or they develop issues with normal wear. Regardless, it is the company’s responsibility to ensure that all scooters are safe to use. When they become aware of defects or malfunctions, they have to quickly address the hazards present on the scooters to ensure that riders and other innocent parties are not injured.
- Unqualified riders: Bird has certain requirements. For example, riders must be 18 or older to ride. In some states, riders are also required to have a valid license (they must send Bird photo-proof of their license). When riders lie to get around requirements, they are creating a risk for themselves and for others – after all, these requirements exist
- Poor road conditions: although not always considered, poor road conditions can contribute to scooter accidents. Cracked pavement can easily make scooter riders lose control and suffer accidents. These same poor road conditions could also cause auto drivers to lose control of their vehicles and swerve into scooter riders. Uncontrolled intersections and intersections with poor visibility could also contribute to accidents. The parties responsible for maintaining roads (usually the city, county, or private companies) are supposed to address hazards before anyone is involved in accidents due to said poor conditions.
- Unsafe scooter stationing on sidewalks: Bird scooters are supposed to be stationed on sidewalks. Both riders and the independent contractors that drop off scooters after charging them are required to park the scooters on sidewalks in a very specific way to ensure that pedestrians can continue using sidewalks safely. However, poor placement can result in scooters completely blocking pedestrians’ right of way. Scooters can also fall over pose a danger to pedestrians. In general, unsafe stationing could result in pedestrians suffering accidents, including trip and falls, for instance.
Understanding Bird Liability For Scooter AccidentsWho is liable for the accident that you or a member of your family suffered? Many people assume that Bird is automatically liable for all accidents and injuries suffered because of their electric scooters. However, this is not the case. Bird is only liable under very specific circumstances. Consider the following information regarding liability for Bird scooter accidents:
- You could sue drivers. Because most Bird scooter accidents involve autos, it is common for drivers to be liable. If the negligent actions of a driver caused or contributed to your scooter accident, you could like sue the driver that caused your accident.
- You could sue a rider. It is also common for scooter accidents to be caused by reckless scooter riders, resulting in injured pedestrians. If your accident was caused by the scooter rider’s negligent and reckless actions, you could sue the rider that caused your accident.
- You could sue property owners. In some cases, scooter accidents are caused by the poor conditions created or ignored by property owners. If you were riding a scooter on private property (such as a driveway, a parking lot, or even a sidewalk in some circumstances), you could sue the property owner – especially if their negligence resulted in the injuries suffered.
- You could sue a city or a county. Some scooter accidents are caused by poor conditions on public roads/sidewalks. If a city or county had the responsibility to maintain safe conditions on roads, then they could be held accountable for the harm suffered due to their negligence.
- You could sue the manufacturer of the scooters. If a defect in the scooters caused an accident and injuries, the scooter manufacturers could face some liability. All companies must ensure that their products are safe to use prior to making them available for consumer (rider) use.
- You could sue Bird. You could only sue Bird if Bird is directly liable for the harm suffered. For example, if the harm suffered was caused by a defective scooter, victims could sue Bird. If the harm suffered was caused by an underage scooter rider, victims could also sue Bird for failing to enforce their requirements, for example. If you tripped and fell as you were walking on a public sidewalk that was being used to park scooters, you might have grounds to sue Bird. If Bird representatives fail to collect Bird scooters or negligently park scooters on sidewalks, Bird could also be liable.
The Right To File A Bird Scooter Accident ClaimDo you have the right to sue after being involved in a Bird scooter accident? If you were involved in an accident due to the negligent actions of a party, you will likely have grounds to pursue a claim. If your claim is successful, you might have grounds to receive compensation. In general, personal injury claims are based on negligence – which consists of four elements. A party owes you a specific duty of care. The party breaches their duty of care to you resulting in an accident. The accident causes injuries. If the harm that you or a member of your family suffered can be directly correlated with the negligent actions of another party, you will likely have grounds to pursue a claim. It does not matter whether you were harmed as a rider or as a pedestrian; you likely have grounds to take action.
Bird Insurance CoverageWhen victims suffer personal injury accidents, the liable party’s insurance company is usually financially liable for the damages suffered. Bird is self-insured. Because of that, there is a lack of information available surrounding their specific coverage in the case of accidents and injuries. Will Bird’s insurance coverage apply to your accident and to the damages that you suffered? Bird’s insurance could cover your damages; however, Bird’s insurance will only cover your damages if the company is found liable for the harm that you suffered. If Bird carries no fault for the accident that you suffered, then you will likely not be covered by their insurance.
Past Lawsuits Relating To Scooter AccidentsBecause Bird scooter injuries are so new to the legal field, there are not many cases available for evaluation. Although there are still no concluded lawsuits relating to Bird rental scooters and the harm caused by these scooters, there are many claims surrounding other type of scooter accidents which could be relevant for future Bird injury cases. Consider the following sample lawsuits:
Kelly O’Hara v. Jonathan Spees and Manuel GuajardoIn September 2015, Kelly O’Hara and Manuel Guajardo arrived at the home of Jonathan Spees to work on renovations; Spees was not home at the time. O’Hara and Guajardo found themselves needing to get a work truck onto Spees’ driverway; however, Spees’ motorized scooter was in the way. O’Hara decided to get on the scooter and ride it out of the way. O’Hara swerved and suffered an injury to her right leg. O’Hara pursued a claim against Spees and Guajardo claiming that their negligent led to her injury. Spees, the owner of the motorized scooter, was dismissed from the case because he was not home at the time of the incident. O’Hara firmly claimed that Guajardo told her to ride the scooter – even though she had told him that she had never ridden one before. However, Guajardo sustained that O’Hara made the decision to get on the motorized scooter on her own. O’Hara suffered leg injuries that resulted in two surgeries and many months of physical therapy. She sought $209,407 in past medical expenses, $40,800 in lost income, as well as damages for future medical expenses and past/future pain and suffering. The jury favored the defense. This claim demonstrates how a party made the conscious choice of riding a scooter – knowing that she didn’t know how to ride a motorized scooter. In other words, the party decided to ride the scooter while aware of the risk which she was creating for herself. How can this be relevant to Bird scooter cases? Practically anyone can use Bird scooters, given that they meet the basic requirement. However, there is no training necessary to begin using the electric scooters. On the contrary, they are designed to be as simple to use as possible. Without a doubt, parties inexperienced with scooters are likely to struggle the first few times that they ride a scooter. If you lost control of the scooter because of your inexperienced, for example, you might be the only party to blame. Likewise, if you were struck by a party riding a scooter that made the decision to ride the scooter knowing that he or she would present a risk to others, that party might be liable.
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Brittany Bagwell v. Courtney Miller, David Miller and Does 1 to 25On April 8, 2014, the plaintiff – Brittany Bagwell – was riding her motor scooter in a two-lane residential street in Los Angeles. A vehicle driving in front of Bagwell, a Honda CRV driven by Courtney Miller suddenly slowed down. As Bagwell tried to pass the slowing vehicle, Miller made a left turn in from of Bagwell and her scooter. There was no time for Bagwell to avoid the collision. Bagwell suffered injuries to her head, face, chest, legs, and right knee. Bagwell sued Courtney Miller and David Miller (the owner of the vehicle which was later dismissed from the case). According to the claim, Miller slowed down and appeared to be stopped on the right side of the road. Because her brake lights were on and she was stopped by parked vehicles, Bagwell came to the conclusion that the driver was looking for a parking spot. Bagwell claimed that Miller did not have her turn signal on prior to making the sudden left turn into her scooter. Although the victim’s injuries did not require immediate surgery to address, Bagwell spent time in physical therapy. Experts claimed that she will require extensive medical treatment to address the harm to her knee in the future. Experts also claimed that the victim will likely be in pain for the remainder of her life. Bagwell sought $814,000 in damages. She was awarded a total of $400,000 consisting of $16,964 for past medical care, $23,000 for future medical care, $140,000 for past pain and suffering, and $220,036 for future pain and suffering. How can this case be relevant to Bird scooter accidents? The victim in this case was riding her scooter legally. She was exercising caution to prevent an accident. The driver of the vehicle, however, negligently made a left turn without signaling or checking if it was safe to do so – striking the vehicle. Unfortunately, many scooter accidents occur in this way. Scooter riders are riding diligently and reckless or negligent drivers cause their accidents and their injuries. When drivers negligently cause scooter accidents, they could be held liable for all the damages suffered. Zeferina Rodriguez and Juan Rodriguez v. Kyle Nobutisi Masui, Amy Masui, City of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles, State of California Department of Transportation, and Does 1 through 100 On March 9, 2015, the plaintiff’s decedent – 13-year-old Chris Rodriguez – was riding his Razor scooter in his Los Angeles neighborhood. It is important to note that the scooter was not a motorized scooter. Chris Rodriguez entered an uncontrolled/blind intersection and was struck by a car driven by Kyle Masui and owned by Amy Masui. The victim’s parents pursued legal action against Kyle and Amy Masui. The victim’s parents also pursued legal action against the parties that should have maintained the intersection in which their son suffered fatal injuries – including the city of Los Angeles, the county of Los Angeles, and the State of California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). Kyle Masui was accused of negligently operating the vehicle (he was driving at 35 to 40 mph in a 15 to 25 mph zone). Amy Masui was accused of being vicariously liable for Kyle Masui’s reckless actions. The city, county, and Caltrans were also accused of negligence; specifically, they were accused of failing to address the intersection’s poor and dangerous conditions. After it was determined that the city was responsible for maintaining the intersection in question, both the county and Caltrans were dismissed from the case. The victim suffered a number of traumatic injuries that resulted in his death. His mother and father sought wrongful death damages for the tragic event. The case settled for a total of $2.6 million. Kyle Masui’s insurance coverage paid $100,000. The city of Los Angeles (self-insured) paid $2.5 million. This case might seem irrelevant to Bird scooter accident claims because the scooter involved in this tragic accident was not motorized. Although the driver of the vehicle was clearly liable for the fatal accident, the city also carries liability. The dangerous road conditions significantly contributed to the accident and to the victim’s death. The city failed to address the hazardous conditions in the intersection, resulting in the accident and the death of the victim. Most Bird scooters are found alongside busy city streets – streets that are often hazardous. If a Bird scooter accident is caused by the negligence of a city, the city could be liable for all damages suffered.
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Determining The Value Of A Claim And The Compensation Available For RecoveryHow much are scooter injury cases usually worth? Because Bird scooter accident claims are still less common than all other types of personal injury claims, average claim values are largely unavailable. Instead of searching for set values, it is more beneficial to understand the different factors that could affect the value of a personal injury case. One of the most important factors that affect the value of your claim revolves around the type of injuries that you suffered. In general, severe injuries are associated with higher medical bills. If you suffered many severe injuries, your medical bills will be expensive. If your injuries were permanent, you will likely be left with the need for future medical care which amount to additional medical expenses. In general, the preliminary value of your claim depends on the injuries that you suffered. Without a doubt, the physical injuries that you suffered are important to the value of your claim. However, your accident likely resulted in mental and emotional distress. If your accident left you dealing with pain and suffering – both past and future – you could be entitled to additional monetary compensation. In general, pain and suffering can include depression, anxiety, PTSD, and embarrassment, for example, as well as physical pain. The value of your claim will also be affected by the type of work you performed prior to your accident. In general, personal injury accidents result in victims being unable to work for some time. Depending on the type of work and your wage history, the value of your claim might significantly increase. When determining the value of your case, both past lost wages and future lost wages are important. Even if all the factors mentioned above result in your claim being valued at millions, for example, it is likely that the value of your claim is limited by applicable insurance. In most personal injury claims, the compensation available for recovery is paid by an insurance company. If the liable party only carries a few hundred thousand dollars in insurance for example, your claim will be limited to that specific value regardless of any other details. Regardless of the specific values of their claims, victims of personal injury accidents are sometimes eligible to receive some of the following types of compensation:
- Medical expenses: for all medical expenses caused by the accident
- Lost income: for all wages lost because of the accident
- Pain and suffering: for the mental and emotional distress caused by the accident
- Funeral and burial costs: for the expenses associated with the death of a victim due to the accident
- Loss of consortium: for the loss of the ability to have a normal relationship with the victim because of the accident
- Punitive damages: awarded to punish the defendant (not a frequent form of compensation)
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The Importance Of Acting Appropriately After A Bird Scooter AccidentUnfortunately, many people do not know what action to take after being involved in a personal injury accident. Regardless of the type of personal injury accident in which you were involved, taking action might prove difficult. Because Bird scooter accidents are so new to the legal field, pursuing these claims might even be more difficult – simply due to the lack of information available. If you or a member of your family were involved in a Bird scooter accident, you must act appropriately to ensure that you preserve your right to take action against the party liable for the harm that you suffered. Consider the following recommended action that parties affected by Bird scooter accidents should take after suffering any type of harm due to these scooters:
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible. If your injuries are severe, you might need to contact emergency services. Professional evaluation of your injuries will ensure that there is a clear record of the cause of your injuries. If your injuries are not life-threatening, you could postpone seeking medical treatment until after you have dealt with everything at the accident scene.
- Take photos of your injuries. You will need photo evidence of your injuries. You should photograph your injuries both before and after your treatment. If your injuries resulted in scars after treatment/healing, you should also have photographs of scars.
- Take photos of the scene of the accident. Before any vehicles are moved away from the scene, you should take photos of the entire scene of the accident. You should also focus on the individual vehicles involved – photograph all damage visible on the vehicles.
- Gather the information of all parties involved in the accident. This includes contact information, vehicle information, insurance information, license information, and all other information that might be relevant for your accident claim.
- Gather witness information. If there were any witnesses to your scooter accident, you should approach them and ask for their contact information in the case that you need supporting testimonies.
- Contact the police and file an accident report. The police will speak to all parties involved in the accident and write a formal report. This report is one of the most important pieces of evidence.
- Report the accident to Bird. You could contact Bird and report your accident directly through their mobile application. You should avoid providing the company with too many details – especially details that could be used against you.
- Take photos of the defect that caused your injuries, if possible.
- Take clear photos of any barcodes or serial numbers on the scooter.
- Try your best to preserve the item. You should attempt to take the scooter home for safekeeping.
- Do not tamper with the defect in any way.
- Take clear photos of the poor road conditions.
- Investigate you is liable for maintaining the specific road.
- Contact the liable party to report the accident that you suffered due to the unsafe road conditions.
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