The Sun-Sentinel recently published a story addressing the frequency with which e-scooter injuries land riders in the emergency room, including one of our clients, Ashanti Jordan.
Like the majority of e-scooter riders, 27-year-old Ashanti wasn’t wearing a helmet when she collided with a car on her way home from work. Lime, the manufacturer of the scooter she was riding, doesn’t provide riders with helmets, nor do they emphasize the potential dangers that e-scooters pose to riders. As a result of the collision, Ashanti suffered a severe brain injury and remains in a vegetative state from which she’s not expected to recover.
Speaking to the Sun-Sentinel, Kelley | Uustal attorney Todd Falzone explained the inherent issues with e-scooters. To begin with, he said “riding a scooter is very dangerous for people who don’t do it regularly”. But the bigger problem lies with the lack of safety standards, “there is no safe place to operate scooters in South Florida,” he said. Because sidewalks are often not equipped to handle e-scooters, riders have to share the road with cars. This is when the worst accidents, like Ashanti’s, happen.
Although Bird, another e-scooter company, has recently begun to push the use of helmets by handing out tens of thousands of them to riders, the company admits they have not seen riders actually wearing them. And without helmets, the risk of serious, possibly deadly injuries will continue.
Additionally, there are the dangers posed by scooter malfunctions. Due to the rapid growth and demand for e-scooters, manufacturers have been unable to keep up with maintenance and repairs. Wearing a helmet won’t keep a scooter with defective brakes from putting a rider in a dangerous situation. Many riders have ended up hurt due to a scooter malfunction; some have even filed lawsuits after being severely injured.
Finally, there’s the more complicated issue of the waivers riders are asked to sign prior to using the scooters. As most people tend to do, riders agree to a slew of terms and conditions without having read or understood them. It’s not until they get hurt that they realize they signed away their right to pursue legal action against the scooter manufacturers. According to Lime’s waiver, riders are not allowed to bring a suit against the company in Florida, and instead have to settle for arbitration in California. Regardless of their injuries, the most they can be awarded in arbitration is $100.
K|U’s suit against Lime challenges this waiver. Our hope is that this case will be allowed to move forward and will set a precedent that allows riders to file a lawsuit and have their case heard by a jury of their peers, as is their constitutional right. A judge is expected to make this decision in February.