Albuquerque has joined the ranks of metropolitan cities across America that are dealing with the latest ride-share transportation fad: rentable electric scooters. The scooters are flooding downtown ABQ and the University of New Mexico campus.
Unfortunately, what typically follows the roll-out of e-scooters in a community is a string of scooter-related injuries to riders and pedestrians. In fact, there have been so many injuries from the scooters that a class action lawsuit has been filed in California accusing Bird, Lime and other e-scooter companies of “gross negligence” and “aiding and abetting assault.”
The Albuquerque City Council adopted an ordinance in October that gives operators of e-scooters designed for shared use on city streets the same rights as bicycle riders. The ABQ Journal reported the lone vote against e-scooters in Albuquerque, Councilor Isaac Benton, who represents downtown, expressed concern about the city’s liability, as well as the police department’s ability to enforce new transportation regulations.
While Albuquerque police may be ready to enforce the law, the experience of other communities with e-scooters suggests that Albuquerque EMS had better be ready, too–to respond to accidents.
E-Scooters are the New Urban Ride-Share Option
The two-wheeled electric scooters are essentially a thin metal blade with handlebars upon which a rider balances at speeds of up to 15 mph. Riders are supposed to be licensed drivers at least 18 years old and are instructed to wear a helmet.
Users rent e-scooters through a smartphone app and can park them anywhere within a defined geographic area of Albuquerque when they are done. The companies that own the scooters hire contractors to round them up each night so that they can be recharged and repositioned for use the next day.
Bird, the biggest of several e-scooter companies, Lime and others typically put scooters out in a targeted urban area or college campuses with little advance notice other than want ads on Craigslist for scooter wranglers. A thousand or more scooters may appear overnight and are typically available for $1 per ride plus 15 cents per minute used, or $10 for the first hour.
E-Scooter Fad Leads to Injuries Nationwide
Since being rolled out this summer, electric scooters have proved popular with young urban adults and others, including seniors and underage riders. Their use has led to a growing number of injuries and deaths.
The Washington Post reported that the first death in the nation tied to an e-scooter occurred in Dallas, Texas, when a 24-year-old man crashed the e-scooter he had rented. A 20-year-old man in Washington, D.C., who collided with an SUV while on an e-scooter in late September was the first in the U.S. Capital to die in an electric scooter accident.
In September, a 28-year-old man on an e-scooter was convicted after hitting a pedestrian in West L.A. while his blood-alcohol content was 0.279 — three times the legal BAC limit. It is considered the nation’s first conviction for “scooting under the influence,” the L.A. Times said.
In early September, The Post said it had interviewed emergency-room physicians in seven cities, including Austin, Nashville and Atlanta, and each reported a spike in severe accidents after e-scooters became available in their city.
A spokesman for San Diego’s Scripps Mercy Hospital said from June through October the hospital had seen about 30 injuries from scooter accidents that required hospitalization. The University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City said it treated 21 patients injured in scooter accidents from June to September.
Bone fractures, lacerations, head injuries and dislocations of ankles, wrists, and shoulders are common scooter injuries.
Were E-Scooters a ‘Known Danger’ From the Start?
In Indianapolis, where Bird has deployed 6,000 scooters throughout the city and Lime has added 1,800 more, the IndyStar explained the ensuing problem in an additional report:
Riders feel unsafe riding on streets, where city rules say they should be. Pedestrians feel unsafe when scooters zip by on the sidewalk. And drivers feel unsafe when scooters occupy the same traffic lanes they do.
As young adults, teens and others zip around on two wheels, some swerve in and out of traffic or ride on sidewalks. They are injured when they fall off scooters, collide with other vehicles or run into pedestrians, who suffer injuries.
The class action lawsuit pending in Los Angeles County Superior Court was initially filed on behalf of eight plaintiffs, the Washington Post said. By October 22, a ninth had joined the suit, NBC Los Angeles reported.
Plaintiffs claim to have suffered broken arms, facial injuries, broken legs, broken teeth, concussions, lacerations and other injuries, and several say their injuries required surgery. Three plaintiffs say they were severely injured when e-scooter riders crashed into them from behind, and several blame their accidents on malfunctioning brakes or throttles on the e-scooters they used.
The lawsuit alleges that e-scooter companies’ practices have contributed to injuries in multiple ways. “By ‘dumping’ scooters on public streets without any appropriate safety instruction or warning, the suit alleges e-scooter companies acted negligently and should have known that their devices would become a dangerous public nuisance, the newspaper says.
The suit alleges that e-scooter companies knew their riders were injuring pedestrians and essentially assisted in the commission of assault because the companies did nothing to prevent the collisions. The lawsuit cites mechanical issues with scooters that have led to accidents and says scooter companies have provided inadequate safety instructions for riders. The risks e-scooters pose “were known and/or knowable” by manufacturers, the suit says.
Bird and Lime have each released a statement that extols the environmental virtues of e-scooters vs. cars and says safety is a top priority.
Parnall Law Albuquerque E-Scooter Accident Lawyers Are Here to Help
Attorney Bert Parnall has dedicated his legal career to obtaining justice for injured people in Albuquerque. The legal team at Parnall Law is reviewing cases of injuries caused by electric scooter accidents in Albuquerque. If you have been injured in an e-scooter collision, contact Parnall Law to set up a free legal consultation. We will work aggressively to help you seek full compensation for your injuries.