West Palm Beach Scooter Accident Attorneys
They intend to provide an affordable and environmentally friendly means of traveling throughout the city. They offer easy access, easy dropoff, and relieve traffic congestion in busy areas like West Palm Beach. However, for all of the benefits they provide, the provision of rentable e-scooters in the region was not without its pain points—mainly, where and who can ride scooters.
With the passage of rules regarding their use on public roads, West Palm Beach ushered in a new and popular form of transportation recently by making it possible for the companies providing scooter rentals to operate here. They also made it loud and clear that scooter riders have a right to use the roadway just as bicyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and the drivers of passenger cars and commercial trucks do.
This means that may seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of injuries they incurred in accidents, just as other roadway users do.
If a West Palm Beach scooter accident injured you due to someone else’s recklessness or you may seek compensation for the financial and psychological costs of your injuries. Contact an experienced West Palm Beach scooter accident lawyer from Shiner Law Group to learn more about the legal process, and how our firm can assist you in pursuing the maximum amount of compensation available in your case.
Shiner Law Group is an award-winning firm focused entirely on assisting the injured in Florida by ensuring their right to seek compensation for their injuries.
What Is an E-Scooter?
E-scooters are light, compact, dockless vehicles that are battery-powered and capable of traveling at speeds of around 15 miles per hour. Although scooters have been around for years, they’re now able to connect wirelessly and come equipped with GPS trackers.
Companies like Bird and Lime offer the scooters for rent often for as little as a dollar, plus 15 cents a minute. Customers can rent the scooters through a rental company’s online app, much in the same way a person would order a Lyft or Uber. The app provides a map of scooters in the customer’s area to rent. The customer pays for its use via credit card through the app.
Common Types of Accidents Associated With Scooters
Many types of scooter accidents can injure
- Falling off the scooter. The fall could result from road damage, the rider attempting to avoid a collision with a vehicle or pedestrian, or simply rider inexperience. According to a Southern California study involving scooter accidents, more than 80 percent of scooter injuries treated in emergency departments result from a fall.
- Colliding with an object. The streets of West Palm Beach are not only crowded with humans but street signs, planters, trees, and parked cars. Collision with an object is the second-most common source of scooter accident injuries, accounting for about 11 percent.
- Being hit by a moving vehicle or object. Nearly 9 percent of scooter accident injuries involve a collision between the scooter and a vehicle or other moving object. Unfortunately, while scooter versus automobile accounts for less than 10 percent of all scooter accident injuries, this type of accident accounts for 75 percent of scooter accident fatalities.
- Pedestrian-involved scooter accidents. When an accident happens involving a scooter, it is usually the scooter rider who is injured. However, sidewalk scooter riding poses risks to another vulnerable group of roadway users: pedestrians.
- Injuries due to unsafe scooter parking. Many communities, including West Palm Beach, faced the arrival of rentable scooters wondering how to regulate parking for the vehicles. Because the scooters are dockless, they can be left anywhere. However, if left in roadways or on sidewalks, they risk injuring pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, or even motorists.
The Injuries Incurred in West Palm Beach Scooter Accidents
Scooter accidents across the U.S. resulted in around 50,000 injuries within two years, along with 27 fatalities. The most common injuries incurred in scooter accidents are bone fractures, which account for about 40 percent of all scooter-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms. Scooters lack the protective features of most other vehicle types, including a steel frame, seat belts, or airbags. Ejection from the scooter is almost certain.
While any bone in a scooter rider’s body can break during an accident, most injuries occur in two places: the hips and upper legs, which are the point of impact for many types of vehicles, and the arms. Arms often break in scooter accidents due to a person’s instinctive urge to catch themselves when falling by outstretching the arms.
Other common injuries occurring in West Palm Beach scooter accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): A TBI damages the brain with a blow to the head or body. Although the brain is arguably the most important organ of the body as it controls all of the body’s functions and involuntary responses, the organ has only a limited ability to heal from injury. Because of this, a TBI will often result in permanent deficits, such as memory loss, inability to speak or understand spoken language, difficulty with balanced and coordinated movement, and difficulty controlling one’s behavior, emotions, and impulses. About a third of individuals that hospital emergency departments treat following a scooter accident will suffer head trauma, including facial injuries, lacerations, skull fractures, or traumatic brain injuries. At the time of the study, only 4.4 percent of those receiving treatment for scooter accident injuries were wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI): The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that extends down the back from the base of the skull to around the waist area. Spinal vertebrae and discs protect it. The primary function of the spinal cord is to relay messages from the brain to the rest of the body. This is called the central nervous system. An injury to the spinal cord generally results in loss of sensation and function below the injury, a condition known as paralysis. A spinal cord injury in the cervical (neck) area of the cord may paralyze all of the body from the neck down. This is called quadriplegia or tetraplegia. Individuals with SCIs occurring lower on the cord will generally experience paraplegia, which paralyzes the body from the torso or waist down.
- Internal injuries: Colliding with objects increases the likelihood of damaging the body’s internal organs that the ribs normally shield from danger. Common organs that a West Palm Beach scooter accident injures include the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, and spleen. One type of injury, known as a pneumothorax, is a collapsed lung generally resulting from a broken rib.
- Cuts, sprains, and bruises: More than a quarter of all scooter accident injuries that require medical treatment involve cuts, sprains, and bruises. Road rash, which is also known as a friction burn and is a type of abrasion resulting from contact by the skin with a rough surface, is common when riders fall from the vehicle and scrape their skin on the road.
Studies indicate that the injuries suffered in scooter accidents are very similar to those suffered in bicycle accidents, except that around 66 percent of bicyclists injured in accidents do wear a helmet when they crash.
West Palm Beach’s Scooter Requirements
In a recent year, the West Palm Beach City Council approved a set of regulations that paved the way for scooter companies to offer rentable vehicles under the city’s regulations.
West Palm Beach’s scooter requirements include:
- No one under the age of 16 can rent a scooter.
- Anyone under 18 who rents a scooter must wear a helmet while operating it on West Palm Beach roadways.
- The scooter must not operate on city sidewalks.
- Rentable scooter companies must provide customer service to West Palm Beach residents 24/7.
- Riders must pick up and return scooters at designated locations.
- The company providing the scooters must evenly distribute the vehicles throughout the city and not over-concentrate them in any particular area.
- Rentable scooter companies must regularly maintain the scooters and remove defective or damaged scooters from operation until they are repaired and deemed safe for use by customers.
Seeking Compensation After a Scooter Accident
The ability to obtain compensation after a scooter accident in Florida is somewhat complicated by the state’s no-fault car insurance laws. Because these vehicles do not require insurance, injured individuals can often seek compensation for their injuries through their own automobile personal injury protection (PIP) policy.
This policy provides coverage of medical expenses and a portion of the injured individual’s wage loss due to missing work because of the injury up to the policy limit. Florida requires all individuals registering a car in the state to carry at least $10,000 in PIP coverage.
If the expenses of the treatment of the injury are more than the injured person’s PIP limits, a personal injury protection policy does not cover the person, or the injuries meet the state’s serious injury threshold, the injured individual can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of their injury through a personal injury lawsuit.
The serious injury threshold in Florida that allows individuals to bypass the no-fault insurance system and file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party includes injuries that involve:
- A significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring and disfigurement.
- Significant and permanent scarring and disfigurement.
Individuals who access the court system to seek compensation for their injuries can recover an expanded number of items compared to the no-fault insurance system, which only provides medical expenses and a portion of wage loss. Read on for more information about the type of compensation you can receive as well as answers to the questions our West Palm Beach clients most frequently ask us about scooter accidents.
Frequently Asked Questions About West Palm Beach Scooter Accidents
Seeking compensation through the courts after an injury is often a confusing, overwhelming experience. The knowledgeable West Palm Beach scooter accident attorneys from The Shiner Law Group are happy to answer some of the questions we hear the most about scooter accidents.
For answers to questions specifically about your case, be sure to contact us for a free case evaluation.
What can I obtain compensation for after a West Palm Beach scooter accident?
In Florida, individuals injured by someone else’s carelessness or recklessness can seek the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. What this means in plain English is that you can seek compensation (damages) for the expenses (economic) and quality-of-life impacts (non-economic) of the injuries you incurred.
Some of the expenses and impacts that commonly appear in scooter accident damage claims are:
- Medical expenses, including the costs of emergency treatment, ambulance transport, physician or surgical services, prescription medication, hospitalization, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and the provision of devices such as crutches or a wheelchair.
- Lost wages due to being too injured to work or missing work to attend an injury-related medical appointment.
- Loss of future earning capacity if your injury results in permanent deficits and you no longer can earn as much as before the accident.
- Property damage you incurred as a result of the accident.
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life, if your injury prevents you from enjoying activities and events you previously participated in.
How do I know who was responsible for causing my scooter accident?
Determining liability means determining who is legally responsible for causing the accident. Scooter accidents vary not only in type but sources of liability. Obviously, if you were in a scooter accident that occurred because a drunk driver on Clematis Street struck you, the driver would be liable.
However, in other instances, liability can include:
- The scooter rental company for failing to maintain the scooters or to ensure that users drop them off at a designated location.
- A scooter rider, if you were injured as a pedestrian by a scooter that was being ridden on the sidewalk.
- A bicyclist or other type of roadway user who pushes the scooter rider too close to the edge of the roadway and causes him or her to strike an object.
- The occupant of a parked vehicle on the side of the roadway who opens his or her door into the path of an oncoming scooter, resulting in a dooring accident.
Whatever the circumstances of your collision, to prove that someone was responsible for causing your West Palm Beach scooter accident, you must show:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The phrase “duty of care” refers to the actions that a reasonable person would take in a given set of circumstances to avoid causing harm to another person or property.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. The breach refers to the actions that the at-fault party took that violated the duty of care.
- The breach resulted in an accident, which caused your injuries and the incurrence of economic and psychological impacts.
I was injured when riding my own scooter, not a rented one. Can I still file a claim?
If someone else’s careless or reckless actions resulted in your accident, you may file a claim. One item that your attorney will want to look at is the potential for defects on the scooter that could have led to your accident.
The manufacturers and distributors of electronic scooters must ensure that the vehicles are safe when used as instructed. Failure to do so can lead to a product liability claim.
Three types of defects can result in a product liability claim, including:
- Design defects: This type of defect is inherent in the product design and exists before manufacturing.
- Manufacturing defects: This type of defect occurs during the manufacturing process and generally involves only a batch or group of affected products.
- Defects in marketing: This type of defect includes errors or omissions on the product labeling that could cause the consumer to either wrongly use the product or fail to understand the risks involved with its use.
If I wasn’t wearing a helmet when my scooter accident happened, can I still pursue compensation?
In West Palm Beach, only those under the age of 18 must wear helmets.
Even if you were under 18 at the time of the accident, this still does not relieve someone who acted with negligence from their responsibility to you. An experienced scooter accident attorney can advise you on the potential impact that failing to wear a helmet will have on the amount of compensation you are eligible to receive.
I was injured due to tripping over a scooter that was left on the sidewalk. Who is responsible?
Depending on the other factors in your case, potential sources of liability include:
- The company providing the rentable scooters, if the scooter’s placement on the sidewalk resulted from the company’s failure to follow the city’s ordinance by providing a designated drop-off location or retrieve misplaced scooters.
- The customer who rented the scooter and then failed to drop it off at the agreed-upon location.
- The city, which is responsible for keeping sidewalks clear of obstacles that could injure others. Questions of the city’s liability often come into play in cases when the hazard where the injury occurred was a location that the city staff knew scooter riders often used as a drop-off location and the staff did not take measures to prevent it.
What are some common scooter defects?
In a recent year, Lime recalled an unspecified number of scooters due to an issue that caused the battery to overheat and—in some circumstances — catch fire. It was one of three recalls the company issued in a year.
Riders should know about these scooter defects:
- Handlebars that are loose, broken, or come detached during operation.
- A stuck throttle that results in uncontrolled acceleration.
- Sudden, unexpected power surges.
- Brakes that do not work as expected or fail.
- A front wheel that locks while the scooter is in operation.
- Scooter baseboards or frames that break during use.
- Batteries that run down too quickly, resulting in the vehicle breaking down mid-ride.
- Electronic or software malfunctions.
- Flat tires.
Scooter defects are often a result of improper maintenance of the vehicle, however, they can also result from manufacturing, design, or labeling defects.
The insurance provider for the driver who hit me has already offered a settlement. Should I accept it?
Insurance companies are in the business to make money. They employ many tactics to do this and one of the more common ones is to offer a low settlement in exchange for a quick resolution to the case. They make the offer before the injured person can speak with an attorney and generally when they feel overwhelmed both by the pain of the injury and the fear of how to pay for it.
Accepting these quick settlements without first speaking with an attorney is almost always a mistake. So early after the injury, it is impossible to know the value of your case, as you are still incurring expenses and have not yet had time to discover how the injury will affect your quality of life.
The problem is that the settlement is usually a one-time deal. If you do not ask for enough money to compensate for the expenses and impacts of your injury, you will not be permitted to go back after the agreement has been signed and ask for more money.
An experienced scooter accident attorney will provide a valuation of your case based on verifiable injury expenses, impacts you have actually experienced, and the wisdom of medical professionals as to the future consequences of your injury that you will likely face.
I can’t afford an attorney. Can I seek compensation on my own?
The most important thing an attorney brings to the table is experience and knowledge of the legal process involved in obtaining compensation for your injuries. An attorney will help you seek the maximum amount of compensation available to you.
An attorney will:
- Determine all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can provide your compensation. Insurance pays almost all personal injury settlements and awards. While you may sue an uninsured person and even obtain a judgment in your favor, most uninsured people cannot afford to pay for someone else’s injury expenses out-of-pocket.
- Establish a value to your case based on the expenses and impacts you have incurred from your injury and those you will likely face.
- Negotiate skillfully with the at-fault party’s insurance company in an attempt to garner a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
- If a settlement offer is not forthcoming, file a personal injury lawsuit in the proper jurisdiction and within the statutory time limits. Settlement negotiations do not end when you file the lawsuit. In fact, negotiations can continue after the trial begins but before a decision. Most personal injury cases carry a statutory deadline of four years in which to file a claim. However, if your claim is against a government agency or you were a child at the time when your injury occurred, the deadline will be different. Your attorney will advise you of the time limit for filing your case.
- Gather and organize the evidence and witness testimony needed to prove your claim in court.
- Attend on your behalf and represent you at all associated pre-trial conferences and hearings.
- Litigate, including the delivery of opening and closing statements, the presentation of evidence, and the examination of witnesses.
- Collect your settlement or award.
Contact Our West Palm Beach Scooter Accident Lawyers Today
The compassionate West Palm Beach scooter accident attorneys at The Shiner Law Group understand that individuals may feel tempted to forego attorney representation over fears that they cannot afford to pay for an attorney’s services.
To ensure that anyone who needs our assistance has access to it, we offer:
- A free case evaluation. This obligation-free time allows you to speak to one of our attorneys about your case, obtain answers to your legal questions, and learn more about how our firm can help you seek compensation for your injuries.
- A contingency-fee payment arrangement. This means that you owe nothing for your attorney’s services until there is a positive resolution to your case.
Scooters are one of the trendiest forms of transportation on the road today. However, suffering a serious injury in a scooter accident can result in a lifetime of expenses and impacts. Let us help you start moving forward again after your West Palm Beach scooter accident. For a free case evaluation, contact Shiner Law Group online or call us at (561) 777-7700.