Scooter Accident Attorney in Kansas City, Missouri
Scooters and e-bikes are becoming increasingly popular ways for people to move around the Kansas City Metro area. In fact, Kansas City and other municipalities have recognized them as accessible modes of transportation for many residents, which is why they have approved the operation of companies such as Bird and Lime within their boundaries.
In fact, Kansas City, Missouri and the Kansas City Area Transit Authority have partnered with RideKC Bike + Scooter, Drop Mobility, and BikeWalkKC in a public/private/nonprofit partnership to provide access to electric scooters and e-bikes.
Scooters also refer to two-wheel vehicles you ride with your feet placed flat on the floorboard. These, too, have been increasingly popular as a less expensive, more environmentally friendly way to get around town.
What happens, though, if you or someone you love is injured while riding a scooter? Who is financially responsible for medical bills and other expenses? Whose liability insurance is on the line?
Of course, liability and financial responsibility depends on the circumstances of the accident. Moreover, scooters as part of a municipal transit system is new, and the laws about them are still catching up to their prevalence on city streets.
At Burgess Law Firm PC, we know there a still a lot of unknowns about liability in scooter accidents in Kansas City, Missouri, and throughout the Metro area. What we believe is that when someone is injured on Kansas City roadways due to someone else’s negligence, they deserve fair compensation, and we will work to garner it for our clients. In the meantime, here are some things you should know about scooter accidents.
What Laws Affect Scooters?
Although there may be an absence of law on some matters regarding electric scooters, there are definitive laws on other matters. Some are state laws, others are municipal, and others are not laws, but rather, requirements established by rideshare scooter companies.
Missouri law holds that motorized bikes can be operated on public roadways, but only if the operator has a valid driver’s license. State law does not require that these scooters carry liability policies; however, they must obey all traffic laws and rules of the road at all times. Scooters may not be operated while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and use of a phone or other device while operating one is prohibited. Wearing a helmet is recommended but not required.
Municipalities have passed laws regarding the operation of different types of scooters, including which ones must be ridden on the street and which ones are allowed on sidewalks.
Companies like Bird have their own rules riders must agree to in the app before they can rent a stand-on scooter. Bird’s rules require riders to be age 18 or older and have a valid driver’s license. They cannot carry passengers and must obey all laws and rules of the road.
Bird’s operator agreement also stipulates that you agree to hold the company harmless for any accidents and if there is a dispute, you settle it only through binding arbitration. In other words, the agreement asks you to give up your right to sue or make a Bird injury claim. Because laws governing scooters are not fully developed, this may or may not hold up in court if challenged.
What Injuries Are Common in a Scooter Accident?
Most scooter accidents involve a motor vehicle, which means someone on the scooter is completely unprotected. Moreover, many scooter operators don’t wear helmets which expose them to severe head injuries.
Other common injuries include broken bones, abrasions, soft tissue injuries, and deep bruising. The injuries can be debilitating, cause permanent disability, or even be fatal.
Who Can Be Liable for a Scooter Accident?
Liability for an electric scooter injury depends on the circumstances of the incident that caused the injuries. In many cases, a scooter is struck by a motor vehicle that failed to share the road with the slower, smaller scooter. The vehicle driver might have not been looking out for the scooter, been distracted, or simply didn’t put enough space between the vehicle and the scooter. In this case, the vehicle driver could be held liable and the injured scooter operator could file a personal injury claim against the driver’s auto insurance.
If any fault is assigned to the scooter operator for the accident, the settlement would be reduced by the operator’s percentage of fault under Missouri’s modified comparative negligence rule.
If there was a failure of the scooter itself, such as defective brakes or steering, the scooter rental company may hold liability. But that’s where things get complicated because rental companies such as Bird make you sign an agreement to hold the company harmless and to settle disputes via binding arbitration. You will need an experienced injury attorney to attempt to prevail with a claim given the existence of the agreement.
Liability for a public scooter injury is fairly untested. If you are injured on a city bus whose brakes failed, for example, you can hold the municipality liable for your damages. So, can you hold the City of Kansas City and the Kansas City Area Transit Authority liable for your injuries if a defective scooter caused them? Again, consulting with an experienced scooter injury attorney would provide the best opportunity for finding out.
If you are injured in an accident caused by a bicyclist while you are operating a scooter, it is likely the bicyclist will have no liability insurance coverage you can file a claim against. If, however, the bicyclist has assets, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit and obtain a judgment against them.
If you cause an accident while operating a scooter, it is unlikely the other party would be able to pursue a claim against you because you do not have a liability policy insuring the scooter. Most auto insurance policies exclude coverage of such vehicles. There would be potential coverage if you have homeowner’s liability insurance coverage or an umbrella liability policy.
How Can an Attorney Help?
As you can see by the potential issues raised here, the best option you have if you are injured while operating a scooter under any circumstances is to consult with a personal injury attorney.
Your attorney will know how to investigate and document evidence of fault and prove negligence. Your attorney will know how to research potential liability insurance coverages once fault is established. We know how to then file a personal injury claim and negotiate with insurance companies, municipalities, private rental companies, and their attorneys in an attempt to obtain a fair settlement of your claim. If one cannot be reached, we will file a civil lawsuit and prepare your case for trial.
Ready to Discuss Your Case? Call Today
We know personal injury claims arising from scooter accidents are new legal ground in many ways. We have already embraced that challenge for clients in Kansas City, Missouri, and throughout the Metro area, and we are ready to discuss your case right away. If you or someone you love has been injured while operating a scooter, call Burgess Law Firm PC now to schedule a free case consultation.