Electric scooters offer a convenient way to get to and from work, especially with gas prices rising all over the country. According to Denver Public Works, these devices travel over 12,000 miles every day. Touted as an affordable and environmentally friendly mode of short-distance transportation, the question of electric scooters and public safety remains largely unanswered. As data continues to develop, it is clear these devices pose a safety risk to the community.
Electric Scooters and Public Safety
A 2017 report from Consumer Reports found that around 1,500 people across the US were involved in electric scooter accidents. Of the injuries caused by electric scooter crashes, nearly 45% were head injuries. Closer to home, in Denver 2019, a scooter accident near Coors Field was the catalyst for a change in how often e-scooters can operate near the field. But what happens when you’re the one that’s hurt in an e-scooter crash?If you suddenly find yourself the victim of one of these electric scooter accidents, it can be tricky to establish fault. Here at Bowman Law, our team of pedestrian accident lawyers are well versed in the applicable laws and will work with you to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Here is what you need to know about the current Denver scooter laws, and what to do if you have been in an electric scooter accident in Denver.
Denver’s Electric Scooter Laws on Sidewalks
Currently, Denver ordinances allow electric scooters to operate in bike lanes and streets with speed limits of 30MPH or less. If neither is an option, electric scooters can operate on sidewalks, traveling at a speed of 6MPH or less.
The law went into effect in 2019 when the Denver City Council approved revisions to the city’s regulations for dockless scooters which says that commuter scooters should travel in bike lanes and on low-speed roads when available. Previously, the scooters were supposed to stay on sidewalks in Denver.
What Are the Risks of Electric Scooters on Sidewalks?
The convenience and flexibility of electric scooters cause many potential safety risks. According to Denver law, e-scooters must be ridden on any streets with a speed limit of 30MPH or lower. If there are no such streets present, scooters can be ridden on the sidewalk, at a maximum speed of 6 MPH. This ordinance poses a few problems.
1. Roadways in Denver are not designed for electric scooters.
Drivers and cyclists are not familiar with e-scooters and may be slow to react when a rider navigates through traffic. In addition, scooters can be difficult to spot by drivers on the road, increasing the risk of riders being hit by cars. To avoid the possibility of personal injury, many e-scooter riders instead take to the sidewalks, regardless of whether they are supposed to do so.
2. Electric scooters ridden on sidewalks pose a serious threat to pedestrians.
While Denver law includes a speed limit for e-scooters on sidewalks, many users often continue to ride on sidewalks at maximum speeds. This sets them up for a possible collision with a pedestrian. While such a collision may be less likely to result in serious injury or death, a collision with a pedestrian at 15MPH could send both the rider and the pedestrian to the hospital.
What to Do If You Are Hurt in an Electric Scooter Accident
Knowing what to do in the event of an electric scooter crash can help save lives, reduce injuries, and make the claims process simpler. Accidents can be filled with adrenaline and confusion. Follow these steps after an electric scooter accident to help protect everyone involved.
1. Get to a Safe Area
Get to a safe area, especially if you were riding in the road at the time of the collision, or if you were hit by a scooter in the middle of an intersection, driveway, or crosswalk.
2. Check on Anyone Else Involved
Electric scooters and bikes may involve the scooter and a motor vehicle, another scooter, a pedestrian, a cyclist, a motorcyclist, or a skateboarder. After moving to a safe area, you should immediately check on anyone else involved in the accident.
3. Call 911
In the event of an accident involving an electric scooter, you should contact 911 to report what happened and to request an ambulance if you are injured. Make sure you provide the reporting officer with an honest and truthful statement of how the accident occurred.
4. Gather Information While you Wait for Police
Make sure to get the information of any other person involved in the collision. This includes taking a picture of their driver’s license and insurance card. If involved in an incident with a motor vehicle, document the make, model, year and license plate of the vehicles involved. It is also important to gather as much evidence as you can at the scene. This includes taking down a statement and information of any witness or anyone else involved in the incident. It can be helpful to take photos of your injuries, as well as photos of the damage to the scooter itself.
5. Go to the Hospital or See a Doctor After the Electric Scooter Crash
Visit an emergency room if you were injured in an accident involving an electric scooter or bike. If you refuse treatment at the scene and refuse transport to the emergency room, you should see your family doctor within 24 hours of the accident. Even if you do not feel you were seriously injured, it is important to document medical treatment after a crash, particularly if injuries present themselves later down the road.
6. Contact Your Attorney at Bowman Law
In a car, bike, or pedestrian accident, you may have a pretty clear understanding of your rights, how liability works, and whether insurance is going to cover your injuries. As electric scooters and bikes are a relatively new phenomenon, you may be less sure about your rights or liability in the event of an accident. Our experienced Denver personal injury lawyers will make sure you follow proper protocol, that your personal injuries are handled as part of the claims process, and that you get the compensation you need to move on with your life.
Who is Liable in an Electric Scooter Accident?
While drivers of vehicles are required to carry liability insurance, electric scooter drivers have no such requirement. Automobile insurance generally does not cover scooter or bicycle rentals. Liability, however, depends on various factors:
- At-fault rider: If the scooter rider was at fault, s/he can be held financially responsible for your injuries. If the rider has homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, that insurance company might cover your claim.
- Scooter company: If you have been injured as the result of a malfunctioning scooter, you may be able to file a claim against the scooter company.
- Product manufacturer: If an inherent defect, such as a manufacturing or design flaw, caused your accident and resulting injuries, you may be able to file a product liability claim against the scooter manufacturer to seek compensation for injuries and damages.
- At-fault motorist: If you were struck by a negligent motorist, you can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. The driver’s auto insurance carrier should compensate you, particularly if the motorist’s negligence caused the accident and injuries.
- At-fault pedestrian: If a pedestrian causes a scooter rider’s injuries by stepping into the rider’s path, then the pedestrian’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance might be able to compensate you for your injuries.
- Negligent business: Scooter riders often have difficulty maneuvering around debris and other dangerous conditions on the roadway. These dangerous conditions may occur because of a business discarding debris or trash outside. In such cases, the at-fault business or their insurance carrier may be liable for your injuries and damages.
- Government entity: If a dangerous roadway condition such as a pothole, uneven pavement or poor lighting has caused your scooter accident and resulting injuries, you may be able to seek compensation from the city or government entity responsible for maintaining the roadway. It is important to remember that the statute of limitations for claims against government entities is short, so you must file any such claim within six months of the injury date.
Contact Bowman Law for Help in a Denver E-Scooter Accident
If you have been hurt while riding an electric scooter in Denver, you may be confused about your legal options and unsure about who will pay for the economic and non-economic harm that you have suffered. At Bowman Law, LLC, our Denver electric scooter accident lawyers can help you. We will start by reviewing your case free of charge and walking you through the different routes for pursuing compensation. If you decide to work with us, we will advocate for you on a contingency fee basis and work hard to seek a full and fair settlement amount. Contact our friendly, expert team at Bowman Law to learn more.
Owner and Managing Attorney
Jerry Bowman, J.D., M.A., Owner and managing attorney of Bowman Law LLC, takes his responsibility to the legal profession seriously and dedicates his time and effort to providing quality and competent legal representation to clients in Denver and throughout all of Colorado. He holds an MA in Political Science from Wayne State University and earned his law degree in two and a half years from Michigan State University College of Law.