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Watch Out for E-Scooter and E-Bikes in Atlanta

By Grant Law Office on April 11, 2019

You’ve seen them zipping through traffic and parked on sidewalks: shared-use electronic bikes and scooters, the newest urban transportation trend. They’re just one more brainchild of the smartphone revolution, along with Uber, Lyft, Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, and more to come.

Lime, Bird, Jump, Lyft, and now Uber have flooded the Atlanta area with these contraptions in the last few years, to the delight of some and dismay of others. And, as with rideshare cars a few years before, municipalities are scrambling to catch up in regulating these “Shareable Dockless Mobility Devices,” as the City of Atlanta calls them.

So, what about liability in accidents involving electronic scooters and bikes? Well, in many ways, these are uncharted waters. If you’ve been injured in a shareable dockless mobility device accident—whether as a rider or pedestrian—it would be a good idea to speak to an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney.

Current Atlanta Regulations

Due to the influx of e-scooters and e-bikes throughout the metropolitan area, in January 2019, the City of Atlanta City Council passed Ordinance 18-O-1322 to regulate shareable dockless mobility devices. As for riding one of these devices, the ordinance states that riders should:

  • Not ride on sidewalks.
  • Ride only where bicycles are allowed:
    • In bike lanes.
    • On shared-use paths, including the Beltline and city parks.
    • On the street, in the rightmost lane.
  • Follow all traffic laws.
  • Pay attention to where they’re riding.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Not have more than one rider per device.
  • Not use a cellphone while riding.

The ordinance also provides guidelines for parking a device:

  • You must park a device upright.
  • You may park them at bike racks and along the curb.
  • If you park on a walkway, leave five feet of clearance for others to pass.
  • Do not park on narrow sidewalks.
  • Do not block sidewalks, crosswalks, doorways, driveways, etc.
  • Do not park on vegetation (lawns) or landscaping.
  • Do not park at a Relay Bikeshare Station.

E-scooters must not be capable of going over 15 miles per hour.

Liability in E-Scooter and E-Bicycle Accidents

Because rideshare bicycles and scooters are a fairly new phenomenon, how to determine liability for injuries has not been legally established and tested. Let’s look at a few ways a person could be injured in accidents involving these devices.

  • Suppose I’m riding a scooter and I hit a pedestrian. Can the scooter company be held liable because they rented it to me?

No. When you sign up with one of these companies, you sign a release that absolves them of all liability for injuries and property damage. But, the injured person can sue you.

  • What if I’m injured while riding a scooter, due to a defect or mechanical malfunction?

Again, you’ve signed a waiver. But, if you can prove a product defect was the cause of your injury, you may have a case. Speak to a product liability lawyer to find out more.

  • What if I’m injured while riding a scooter because of a pothole or other road condition?

In such a case, you may be able to sue the municipality in charge of maintaining the roadway.

  • What if I’m hit by another vehicle while riding a scooter?

If the other driver was at fault, his insurance policy should cover your injuries and losses.

  • What if, as a pedestrian, I’m hit by one of these scooters? Depending on the rider’s auto insurance policy, you may be covered. Many policies have clauses that include coverage for motor vehicles designed to be used on public roads that are not cars.

These scooters don’t have license plates, so it could be difficult to find the culprit who hit you. Again, the rider signed a waiver, so the scooter company will use that to deny liability. In such a case, it would be a good idea to speak to a lawyer. Currently, there is no age limit on who can rent a scooter. Nor is there any requirement that the renter have a driver’s license, own a car, or carry liability insurance. If, say, a 14-year-old was riding the scooter that hit you, you may be able to go after his parents’ insurance company. However, there is currently no legal precedent regarding such a claim.

  • What if I’m injured by tripping over a parked e-scooter?

People have been injured by tripping over wayward e-scooters, and there are currently lawsuits against several scooter companies. It will be interesting to see how these cases play out.

For nearly two decades, the husband and wife legal team at Grant Law Office has been successfully representing Georgians who’ve been injured in a variety of accidents. If you’ve been injured by an electronic bike or scooter, call our Atlanta bike accident lawyers for a free case evaluation by dialing (404) 995-3955.

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Posted in: Bicycle Accident

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