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Chicago personal injury attorneyFor the second time in two years, the City of Chicago experimented with an e-scooter pilot program to get a feel for how electric scooters might affect daily commutes and off-hour transportation in the city. This year’s program ran from August 12 to December 12 after being delayed by the COVID-19 health crisis. City officials, however, are now wondering what to do next after ridership dropped by over 20 percent compared to last year’s program.

Larger Program, Fewer Rides

In 2019, the e-scooter pilot program ran from June to October, and it saw approximately 821,000 trips on about 2,500 electric scooters. The program also served a relatively small portion of the city, but seasonable summer weather and the novelty of the idea encouraged many people to give e-scooters a chance. This year was quite different.

For the 2020 version of the program, 10,000 scooters were available across an area four times as large as last year, but only 640,000 rides were logged this year. While the program seemed to get off to a decent start, the delay caused by the pandemic pushed the four-month experiment from the summer into the fall—which had an effect on the weather during the program. Of course, the health crisis also forced the closure of countless businesses, meaning people generally had fewer places to go.

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Chicago personal injury lawyerThe 2020 edition of Chicago’s shared e-scooter pilot program is winding down, and it will officially end on December 12. While there is little question that the restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 affected how many people utilized the shared scooters, city officials are optimistic about continuing to offer shared scooters in the future.

It is also important, however, to acknowledge that electric scooters pose a serious risk of injury, especially if they are not used properly and in accordance with local rules and ordinances. In fact, a recent study has found that e-scooter injuries have dramatically increased in recent years, including injuries to the head and neck.

A Look at the Numbers

Dr. Kathleen Yaremchuk is the chair of the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, MI. She recently led a team of researchers who looked at e-scooter injuries treated in emergency rooms across the country over the last three years.

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Chicago personal injury lawyerIn many scooter accidents, one person is obviously to blame. For example, a motorist might have run a red light and slammed into you. However, in other accidents, the person on the scooter could also contribute to the accident. This is not surprising, since many people are not familiar with how to safely operate a scooter. Fortunately, the Illinois law on comparative negligence allows injured victims to receive compensation even if they did not operate their scooter with reasonable care. Please contact Livas Law Group, A Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz for more information.

Comparative Negligence

Once upon a time, Illinois’ contributory negligence laws prohibited a victim from receiving any compensation if he or she was found to be even a little bit negligent. This was a serious bar to recovery for many personal injury plaintiffs, who might have made some error that contributed, even slightly, to a crash.

Fortunately, Illinois has changed this unfair rule. After a period of uncertainty, the legislature ultimately updated the law to state that a victim is barred from receiving compensation if their fault was greater than 50 percent. In other words, a victim can be up to 50 percent to blame for an accident and still receive compensation—a level of blame that is greater than 50 percent will leave them unable to collect compensation.

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Illinois electric scooter injury attorney

Whenever a person uses a device powered by electricity, there is always the chance that they can suffer a burn injury. Electric scooters can cause several types of burn injuries which can lead to permanent disfigurement, infection, and other complications. If you were involved in a scooter accident, it is important to enlist the help of an attorney with experience in dealing with e-scooter concerns.

Fires and Electrocution

There have been problems with electric scooters malfunctioning. For example, in late 2018, the e-scooter manufacturer Lime pulled 2,000 electric scooters after several had caught on fire. Scooters even caught on fire at the company’s Lake Tahoe facility. The cause was eventually determined to be defects with lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Lime eventually pulled their scooters from several cities in California and designed a new program that would allow them to catch any malfunctioning batteries.

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Chicago e-scooter injury lawyerAs the city of Chicago continues the second year of its electronic scooter pilot program, fleets of the small, convenient vehicles have become widely available in other cities around the country as well. The explosion in popularity of e-scooters has created challenges for municipal regulators as they struggle to keep up with safety concerns and the impact of the scooters on city traffic patterns. According to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there are several factors that contribute to the likelihood of being injured on or around e-scooters.

Lack of Clear Rules

Electric scooters represent a relatively new phenomenon, and city planners and policymakers are playing “catch-up” in many cities. This means that too often, scooters are made available and are being used without consistent policies and rules in place regarding how to ride with safety as the top priority. The IIHS study found that e-scooter riders suffer more injuries per mile ridden than bicycle riders and were two times more likely to be hurt by potholes, lampposts, and cracks in the pavement. Bike riders, however, were three times more likely to be hit by a car. Thus, clear and consistent policies are extremely important for keeping riders and pedestrians safe.

Riding on Sidewalks

One of the biggest areas of concern is in regard to where e-scooters should be ridden. According to the IIHS, the jury is still out on whether it is actually safer to ride on sidewalks or on the road. The study found that riding on sidewalks creates more opportunities for the riders to be hurt, but riding on the road increases the chances of more severe injuries. Bicycle lanes may offer a potential solution, but combining e-scooters and bicycles—which usually travel at faster speeds—in one lane has risks as well. In the city of Chicago, e-scooters are not allowed to be ridden on sidewalks, so riders must use roadways and bicycle lanes.  

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Chicago scooter injury lawyerWe are now a month into the second round of Chicago’s experimental program to test the efficiency and usefulness of electric scooters in the city. City officials have been looking at e-scooters as an environmentally friendly way for people to move around the city without using buses, cars, and other transportation options that rely on fossil fuels. E-scooters are also faster and easier than walking on Chicago’s streets.

The first round of the e-scooter pilot program took place late last summer and into the fall. The second round started in August of this year and is expected to run until December. With the first month of the second test program now in the books, it seems that the novelty of e-scooters may be wearing off, despite an uptick in overall trips.

More Rides Taken, But…

This year’s program put nearly four times as many e-scooters on the streets of Chicago compared to last year, with 10,000 scooters made available from three different scooter companies. In the first month of the program last year, riders took about 218,000 trips, with an average trip covering about a mile and a quarter. This year, the first month saw 230,400 trips, and the average trip covered 1.87 miles.

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Chicago motorcycle accident lawyerIllinois is one of the few states in the country that does not have a motorcycle helmet law. Our state leaves it up to individual riders to decide for themselves whether to wear a helmet. At Livas Law Group, a Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwarz, we represent many motorcycle accident victims who have suffered terrible injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). With this in mind, we encourage riders around the state to consider some of the evidence around the safety and effectiveness of motorcycle helmets.

Helmets Do Not Meaningfully Restrict Vision or Hearing

Many riders refuse to wear a helmet because they believe it will restrict their vision or ability to hear. These are certainly legitimate concerns. A rider’s safety would be compromised if they could not see or hear as well, in which case a helmet could be counterproductive and could, in fact, cause an accident.

However, research has shown that these fears are not well-founded or supported. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has stated, a person’s range of vision, including peripheral vision, usually covers between 200-220 degrees. Helmets provide up to 210 degrees of vision—so that is very slight impairment if any at all. Further, more than 90 percent of accidents happen within a 160-degree range, which means that vision impairment caused by a helmet will not contribute to most collisions. A rider can easily counter any slight restriction in peripheral vision by simply moving her head a little bit more in either direction.

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