georgias electric scooter laws

As use continues to rise, there have been many serious electric scooter accidents, including some fatalities.  This has led to a split in public opinion about electric scooters. Some believe that they are a great way to move people throughout the city.  But, others find them to be a public nuisance and want them banned.

Regardless of which camp you fall in, this post is designed to shed some light on electric scooter accidents in Georgia.  If you have been injured while riding a scooter, or have been hit by one, you should make sure your legal rights are protected. 

You may be able to receive monetary compensation for the injuries and damages that you have sustained.  Read on below to find out more. 

What is an Electric Scooter?

An “e-scooter” is another name for “electric scooter.”  These e-scooters are motorized scooters that carry the rider without much energy at all–unlike the old scooters that you actually had to push. 

These electric scooters can be very convenient if you have to travel a short distance.  There are many different providers, but the overall idea is the same: you locate a scooter anywhere, rent it in the relevant phone app, and then you can leave it anywhere when you are done with it.  The entire platform is “dockless”–meaning, there is no set location from which you rent and return the scooter.

How Does the Process Work?

These battery-powered scooters have recently been fitted with wireless connection and GPS capability, allowing “scooter-share” apps connect with the thousands of e-scooters out in the world.

Here is how the process works:

  • Download the app on your smartphone
  • Create an account and login
  • Accept all of the terms and conditions (with small print disclaiming liability for any damages that may occur while using the scooters)
  • Add credit card payment information
  • Use the GPS maps part of the app to locate the nearest scooter (which also shows battery levels)
  • Tap a button in the app to unlock the scooter
  • Start riding
  • When done, you “check-in” the scooter and leave it anywhere.

The range of these e-scooters will vary based on battery life, but most can go for about 15 miles on a single charge.  Then, representatives of the company will come around a collect the scooters, charge them, and put them back out for use.

The prices vary by app, but usually there is an “unlock fee” of $1-$2 then there is a charge per minute of use.  For example, the company Bird charges $0.15/minute.

Today, you will find e-scooters throughout most of the major cities in the U.S. and they are very popular on college campuses.

Problems With Electric Scooters

The electric scooter craze is not showing any signs of slowing down.  However, the more time that passes means that more accidents are happenings.  This has led to increasing controversy surrounding scooters.

One problem is with the approach taken by the scooter companies.  When they all started, they adopted a “dump scooters in city first…ask questions later” approach that caught many off guard.  The big scooter companies released the scooters without any regard for local laws and regulations. They also did so without notifying local officials or police. Read more about Georgia’s electric scooter laws.

Additionally, the scooter companies have attempted to deny all liability or responsibility for bad behavior by riders.

If you have ever ridden one of these scooters, you know that they have more power than you might think.  The electric motors are quite strong and provide a lot of “get up” when you hit the throttle. This means that they have the potential to cause serious accidents which can put riders at risk as well as pedestrians and cyclists.

One report on scooter accidents found that there have been a minimum of 1,545 electric scooters accidents since late 2017.

Another problem is rider behavior, and bad rider behavior has created a host of problems:

  • Very few riders wear helmets while riding.     
  • Many riders ride on sidewalks (which is against City ordinance)
  • People leave the scooters in dangerous areas
  • Riding multiple people on a single scooter

This has led to some pedestrians to file lawsuits against scooter riders who have hit them.  But, there have also been many injuries caused by malfunctioning, defective, or damages scooters as well as dangerous road conditions. 

As we said above, one of the best things about the scooters is the ability to leave them anywhere and not have to worry about it again.  However, this has led to riders ditching scooters in places such as:

  • Sidewalks
  • Bike paths
  • Wheelchair access ramps
  • Entrances to businesses 
  • Private driveways

There has also been a surge in scooter-related vandalism.  Some reports have found scooters being thrown at vehicles causing serious property damage.

Government officials were caught off guard and are now trying to respond with laws governing scooters.  Some cities have enacted “scooter laws” to try to address some of the growing concerns.

With all this, be sure and check your city’s local laws to make sure you are following the rules when riding e-scooters.  And, always wear a helmet!

Risks of Motorized Scooters

The following are some of the key risks that motorized scooters pose:

  1. Stability: Electric scooters only have two wheels, so they can become unstable if not properly handled.
  2. Visibility: E-scooters are very small compared to cars, and even compared to motorcycles.  So, they are sometimes not viable to other motorists on the roadway. 
  3. Lack of Protection: Just like when riding a motorcycle, scooter riders are completely exposed to the dangers on the roadways.  Unlike occupants of a car, scooter riders have no seatbelts or airbags to protect them.
  4. Poor Road Conditions: Bad roads containing potholes, gravel, and uneven pavement can be a serious problem.  Most cars simply roll right over this stuff, but the small tires on an e-scooter are more susceptible to crashing. 
  5. Lack of Rider Experience:  Many riders are jumping on one of these scooters for the first time.  Just like riding a bike, you have to learn how to operate the scooter before taking to the roads.
  6. Dangerous and Reckless Rider Behavior: There are some riders who operate the scooters in a very dangerous way.  For example, high speeds on sidewalks, multiple riders on a single scooter, not wearing a helmet. 
  7. Scootering Under the Influence:  Unfortunately, some people believe the scooter is a “solution” to driving a car when you have been drinking.  However, this is just as much of a crime as driving a car under the influence of alcohol–and it is just as dangerous.   

Types of Injuries Suffered in Electric Scooter Accidents

Our team has done research into the various types of injuries that are most common in electric scooter crashes.  Below is an explanation of what people have suffered due to scooter accidents.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of injury that is caused by a hard impact to the head.  It causes the brain to suffer a severe impact and, thus, causes injury to the brain itself. An example of a TBI is a concussion.

Concussions are the most common type of TBIs associated with scooter accidents.  Nearly 40% of all hospital visits after scooter accidents involve a concussion. This is also because very few riders wear a helmet when riding.  Thus, when a rider falls and their head hits the pavement, a TBI can result.

A TBI is a very serious injury that can lead to permanent disability or even death.  A mild concussion can even cause permanent brain damage. But, one problem is that the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can often take some time before showing up–sometimes days, or even weeks after the accident.

Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can include:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Ears ringing
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Dizziness

People who have suffered a more severe TBI might have a constant, painful headache, vomiting, slurred speech, impared vision, and the inability to easily wake up after sleeping.

 Traumatic brain injuries can affect the following brain functions:

  • Thinking
  • Speech
  • Language
  • Emotions
  • Behavior
  • Motor functions (walking, etc.)

We have seen clients who have suffered from such extreme traumatic brain injuries that they need extensive treatment.  Sometimes, a person who has suffered a TBI may never be able to return to “normal” life again.

Broken Bones/Bone Fractures

Broken bones are also very common injuries resulting from a scooter accident.  Bone fractures can occur from a fall on a scooter, trauma, or a direct impact to the bone.

Patients who have suffered broken bones often must undergo physical therapy after the bone heals.  It often takes some time and work to regain full function, mobility, and strength in the affected area.  Physical therapy and this type of treatment is very expensive and, unfortunately, not always covered by health insurance.  This leaves patients with a lot of out of pocket expense.

Broken bone injuries can also require the victim to miss work for an extended period while their bones heal.  This can lead to lost wages and lost income. Further, some broken bone injuries can leave the victim with a permanent disability.

Spinal Cord Injuries (Neck and Back Injuries)

Just as impact from a car accident, a scooter accident can also cause severe impact to the back and neck.  When riders, or pedestrians who have been struck, fall on their backs, they can suffer a spinal cord injury.  This can lead to paralysis, paraplegia, or quadriplegia.

The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves running from the base of the brain down to the lower back.  Its job is to carry signals between the brain and the rest of the body. It is how your brain communicates with your entire body.

A spinal cord injury can disrupt these signals.  The type of injury that can cause this spinal cord damage is a fracture or dislocation of the vertebrae, or impact damage to tissue and nerves.

Spinal cord injuries are, unfortunately, very common in electric scooter accidents.  Treatments may include surgery, pain medication, custom braces, or bone traction to stabilize the spinal tract.  Often, a spinal cord injury leads to issues with other parts of the body as well. Therefore, the recovery process is often long with physical therapy, rehabilitation, and potentially chronic neck or back pain. 

What to do After a Scooter Accident.

The following are a list of steps that we recommend if you have been involved in an electric scooter accident:

Seek immediate medical attention

  • Call 911 and allow paramedics to take you to the nearest hospital
  • If you experience any loss of consciousness, it is important to get checked for any head injuries
  • Immediate medical attention will help you get better faster as well as providing documentation for your injuries in case there is a claim

 Contact the Police

  • This is especially important if anyone has been injured
  • Ask the police to create a report
  • If the police do not respond, then you should file a police report immediately after the accident. 

If someone on a scooter hit you, then you should obtain the following information:

  • Name
  • Contact Information
  • Driver’s license number
  • Type of scooter the person was riding

If you were riding a scooter, and another vehicle struck you, you should obtain the following information

  • Name of driver
  • Contact information
  • Driver’s license information
  • Insurance information

Gather evidence from the scene

  • If you are able, you should take photographs at the scene.  You should also take video of the scene.
  • Document the roadway, damage to vehicles, and any physical injuries on people
  • If there were any witnesses, you should obtain their contact information

Save all relevant paperwork

  • Medical records
  • Records of doctor’s office visits
  • Physical therapy bills and records
  • Invoices and receipts for anything related to your injuries 
  • All documents relating to the accident or your injures 
  • Documentation for number of days missed from work for lost wages claim

Contact a personal injury lawyer with experience handling scooter accident cases.

Who is Liable For a Scooter Accident?

Our team of lawyers gets this question often as people want to know who is liable for their scooter injuries.

If you have been injured in an electric scooter accident, you are most likely wondering how you are going to pay for your injuries, medical bills, and other related expenses.  In the case of an auto accident, we look to the insurance company of the at-fault driver. Drivers are required to carry liability insurance, but there is no such requirement for electric scooter riders.  Further, automobile insurance generally does not cover scooter rentals.

That probably has you wondering: how do you recover compensation for an electric scooter accident injury? 

The answer will depend on who is at fault, but here are some possible situations:

At-fault Rider

First, if the rider of the scooter caused the accident, he or she can be held financially responsible for your injuries.  If this rider has a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, then that insurance company might be able to cover your claim

Scooter Company

There have been many accidents on scooters that were caused because of a scooter that had bad parts or was not properly maintained.  For example, the brakes may be worn out or defective, and the scooter company may not have fixed it yet.

If you have been injured because of a malfunctioning scooter, then you might have a claim against the scooter company.

At-fault Motorist

If you were riding a scooter, and you were hit by a car, then you can assert a claim against the driver who caused your injuries.  In this case, the negligent driver’s auto insurance policy should cover the claim. 

Scooter Manufacturer

If your scooter accident was caused by a defect in the scooter itself–such as a design flaw or manufacturing defect–then you may be able to assert a product liability claim against the scooter manufacturer.

In this case, you would be asserting a claim for your injuries directly against the company who built or designed the scooter.

At-fault Pedestrian

Sometimes a pedestrian is at fault in causing a scooter rider to fall and sustain injuries.  If a pedestrian caused you to fall, then the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy might be able to provide compensation to you.

Negligent Business

Scooters can sometimes have trouble maneuvering around debris and dangerous conditions on the roads.  Sometimes this debris or dangerous conditions may exist because of a business that left trash or debris outside.  In cases like this, the negligent business’s insurance carrier may be liable for your injuries.  

Government Entity

There are many dangerous conditions on the roads.  Potholes, uneven pavement, and other conditions are everywhere these days.  If one of these conditions caused your scooter accident, then you may have a claim against a government entity or the city responsible for maintaining the roadway. 

It is important to know that the time limits for filing a claim against a government entity are much shorter, so you should take immediate action.

What damages can you seek for your scooter accident?

Although the facts of each case will determine what you can recover, here are some of the possible types of damages that you can claim in a electric scooter accident case:

  • Medical Bills and Expenses: Emergency transportation, hospital stays, emergency room visits, surgeries, medication, and anything else related to your medical treatment for your injuries.
  • Lost Income and Lost Wages: If your injuries have caused you to miss work, you may be able to claim the wages that you would have earned if you had been able to go to work.
  • Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy: Many scooter accident victims need post-accident physical therapy and rehab.  These are expenses that can be claimed.
  • Lost Future Income: If you suffered a severe injury, then you might be able to recover for lost future earnings and lost future earning capacity.
  • Pain and Suffering: These are non-economic damages that compensate an injury victim for the physical and emotional pain, suffering, and hardship that the injuries have caused.  This can include both a physical component as well as an emotional/mental component.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: If you are unable to enjoy your life in the same way as you were before the scooter accident, then you can make a claim for these damages as well. 

You Need an Experienced Injury Lawyer

The electric scooter industry is very new, so the law in this area is incredibly complex.  This means that many lawyers are not equipped to handle these cases because they have not had experience with them.

An experienced auto accident lawyer can help you through the case and help you maximize your potential settlement. 

Georgia Auto Law is a law firm built to handle cases just like this, and we have a reputation among the insurance companies that we are not to be messed with.  If you have been injured in a scooter accident, then call us at (404) 662-4949 for a completely free, no obligation consultation. Our team will help you determine if you have a case.      

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Mark Wade

Mark Wade is a personal injury trial lawyer in Georgia. He has built a law firm that specializes in car, truck, and motorcycle accidents in order to provide his clients with the highest level of expertise for their auto accident cases.

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