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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 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 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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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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