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Chicago personal injury lawyerThis week, a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company announced plans to bring e-scooters with remote-operating features to cities in Europe and North America later this year. The announcement marks the first solid plans to introduce a new, three-wheeled scooter model. The remote-operating capabilities of the scooter are expected to promote safety and to decrease the number of injuries related to scooters left on sidewalks or on roadways.

A New Way Forward

Spin is the Ford subsidiary responsible for micro-mobility projects, including electric scooters and similar vehicles, and it was one of the three companies that provided e-scooters for the second iteration of the scooter test program in Chicago last year. The company said that it would be releasing the Spin S-200 model this year. In addition, Spin also indicated that its partnership with the software company Tortoise is giving the S-200 capabilities that no other widely-available scooters currently have—namely, the ability to be operated remotely.

According to the company’s announcement, the new Spin Valet software platform can use the built-in front- and rear-facing cameras on the scooter to allow a remote operations team to drive the scooter without being on it. The remote-operation feature will serve several purposes. First and foremost, the remote operations team will be able to find scooters that are left in the path of pedestrians and street traffic and move them at low speeds—3 miles per hour or less—to safer locations. The team will also use the feature to “deliver” scooters to those who request them using Spin’s scooter-hailing app. Eventually, the remote team will also direct scooters with depleted batteries to charging hubs.

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Chicago scooter injury attorneyLast month, the second year of Chicago’s electric scooter test program came to an end. Between August 12 and December 12, 2020, residents and visitors to the city took over 640,000 rides on “rented” e-scooters in a variety of areas and neighborhoods. While the city’s focus was on determining the feasibility of a permanent scooter program as a form of public transportation, riders were simply trying to get where they were going. Unfortunately, with so many people on scooters, accidents are bound to happen. If you were injured in any type of accident caused by someone on a scooter, you may have options for collecting compensation.

Establishing Fault

When an injury-causing accident occurs, the first step toward collecting damages is determining what caused the accident and which party or parties were at fault. Riders in the scooter pilot program were expected to follow very specific rules regarding where to ride, how fast to ride, and how to be safe. Not all riders follow the rules, however, and failing to follow the rules could make a rider liable for any injuries that he or she causes as a result. For example, if you were crossing the street at an intersection and you should have had the right of way, and you were hit by a scooter rider who failed to stop or yield for you, the rider is likely to be found at fault.

Keep in mind that it is possible for you to share in the liability for the accident and still collect compensation. To continue the example above, if you were crossing at the same intersection with your eyes glued to your phone, it could be argued that you were partially responsible for the accident for failing to look around you. Under Illinois law, you could still pursue compensation as long as you are not found to be more than half at fault for the accident. Your compensation, however, will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you.

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Chicago e-scooter accident lawyerBy this point, most residents of Northern Illinois are aware that Year Two of the Chicago e-scooter pilot program is now underway. The second round of the program began in August and consists of about 10,000 electric scooters for rent throughout much of the city. During the first month of this year’s program, riders took more than 230,000 trips, which seems to indicate a level of acceptance from the general public.

It is important to remember, however, that e-scooters can be dangerous if they are not used properly and ridden in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. In fact, several dozen deaths have been linked to e-scooters and similar modes of transportation in the last few years, as well as tens of thousands of additional injuries.

Federal Estimates, Scary Numbers

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), no fewer than 41 people have been killed between 2017 and 2019 in incidents involving e-scooters, e-bikes, and hoverboards—collectively known as “micro-mobility” devices. During that same period, approximately 133,000 people required emergency room treatment for injuries related to micro-mobility products. These figures represent an upward trend in injuries and deaths involving these items, which is hardly surprising, as the trend largely corresponds to the uptick in the devices’ popularity.

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Illinois personal injury attorney e-scooter accident

For the second year in a row, the city of Chicago is experimenting with electric scooters. A new pilot program launched on August 12, as part of an effort by city officials to determine if e-scooters should become a permanent part of Chicago street traffic. This year’s version of the program is much larger than last year’s, both in terms of the number of scooters available and the areas of the city in which the scooter can be found.

The E-Scooter Program at a Glance

Three e-scooter companies are taking part in this year’s pilot program. Bird, Lime, and Spin have each pledged to provide one-third of the 10,000 total e-scooters that will be scattered across much of the city. This is about four times as many scooters than were used last summer, but the number of participating companies has dropped from 10 to just three. Each company uses a proprietary mobile phone app and is allowed to set its own pricing for scooter rental. Reports indicate, however, that the prices are similar across the board: about a $1 fee to unlock a scooter and an average of 35 cents per riding minute after that. Discounts, special pricing, and even free rides are available.

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Chicago e-scooter injury attorneysAfter four months of testing a new form of transportation in the city of Chicago, the e-scooter experiment has reached its conclusion. Ranging from June 15th to October 15th, roughly 800,000 e-scooter trips were registered in the defined pilot area. The test program prompted a lot of positive and negative feedback from both riders and pedestrians. The determination of whether or not e-scooters are going to stay or leave is still ongoing. Many factors will be taken into consideration before a decision is reached. 

A Summary of Chicago’s E-Scooter Test Program 

Looking back to the details of Chicago’s test program, the city allowed 10 different companies to distribute a total of 2,500 e-scooters throughout the designated area. These motorized scooters can reach speeds of roughly 15 mph and were governed by the same legal statutes as any other motor vehicle. Varying from company to company, the average cost associated with an e-scooter was the initial fee of $1.00 to unlock the vehicle, accompanied by 15 cents for every minute used. E-scooters were accessible from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day and could be left at any pickup location upon the riders’ completion.  

What Will be Considered?

Whether or not e-scooters will remain in Chicago is the decision that must now be made. Key topics such as safety, popularity, and financials will all be taken into account during deliberation. To coincide with those areas of concern, the following topics may be considered by the city:

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