Oklahoma City has joined the list of U.S. cities dealing with the electric scooters ride-share fad.
Bird scooters, based in Santa Monica, California, and Lime, of San Mateo, California started placing the electric scooters in clusters around downtown Oklahoma City in late summer.
Bird and Lime have received approval to deploy up to 250 scooters in OKC, but the companies’ representatives want to add many more scooters. If and when the numbers of electric scooters and scooter riders in Oklahoma City increases substantially, there is likely to be a surge in e-scooter accidents and injuries as there has been in other cities.
Bird e-scooters are establishing a track record across the country, and it is one of scooter riders and innocent pedestrians being injured because of the danger posed by these two-wheeled motor vehicles.
What are Bird Scooters and Where are They?
Bird, a Santa Monica, California, firm, is the biggest of several companies offering rentable electric scooters in urban settings starting this past summer. The e-scooters go up to 15 mph as riders balance on two wheels.
The scooters do not require a charging station, so they may be stationed for use anywhere. Riders rent e-scooters though a smartphone app and can leave them parked anywhere when they are finished riding. Teams of scooter wranglers track down the scooters each night through a GPS app, recharge them, and set them out for the next day.
Bird and other companies, like Lime, Jump, Spin, Muving, Ofo and Relay, typically put out hundreds of scooters in a newly targeted city’s downtown without advance notice and begin to make money as curious young adults try them out.
Riding usually costs $1, plus 15 cents per minute, which is $10 for the first hour. Instructions require a user to be a licensed driver 18 years old or older and for riders to wear helmets. But there is no one from the company present to enforce the rules or to instruct riders.
Dozens of electric scooters showed up on Oklahoma City streets in August. The Oklahoma City Council voted to impound the Bird scooters if the company did not obtain proper permits to operate in the city. Bird eventually received a permit to place scooters in 15 locations in the downtown area.
A Pattern of Injuries in Bird E-Scooter Accidents
A pattern of scooter injuries has emerged in dozens of cities across the country where the scooter companies have introduced the vehicles. The number of injuries reported is troubling:
- In San Diego, a Scripps Mercy Hospital spokesman said that since June, the hospital has seen about 30 injuries from scooter accidents that required hospitalization. The same report tells of a 65-year-old San Diego woman who broke her thigh bone when she fell from a scooter.
- In Raleigh, N.C., EMS crews said they have responded to at least 22 serious electric scooter accidents between the arrival of e-scooters in July and mid-October.
- The University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City said it treated 21 patients injured in scooter accidents from June to September.
- The head of emergency medicine at Rose Medical Center in Denver, Colo., said in an October 1 report they see one to three scooter injuries a week. A couple of weeks earlier, a physician’s assistant at an Urgent Care Center in Denver said the clinic treats three to five scooter injuries a week.
- In Memphis, Tenn., a local ER doctor said in August he had seen several injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to head injuries among electric scooter riders who had fallen and who were not wearing helmets.
- The Washington Post said in early September it had contacted emergency-room physicians in seven cities, including Atlanta, Austin and Nashville, who each reported a spike in severe accidents after e-scooters came to town. Two women on a Bird scooter in Nashville were injured in a hit-and-run accident in May.
- The Washington Post said a 24-year-old man in Dallas, Texas, who died after crashing an e-scooter he rented on September 2 was likely the first e-scooter fatality in the nation. A 20-year-old man riding an electric scooter who was hit and dragged by an SUV September 21 was the first e-scooter death in Washington, D.C.
- A 28-year-old man who hit a pedestrian in West L.A. while on an e-scooter had a blood-alcohol content of 0.279, more than triple the legal limit. The L.A. Times called his criminal conviction in September the nation’s first for “scooting under the influence.”
Meanwhile, a class action lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court in October against Bird, Lime and scooter manufacturers alleges “gross negligence” and says the plaintiffs have suffered broken arms, broken legs, facial injuries, broken teeth, concussions, lacerations and other injuries, several of which required surgery. Three plaintiffs say they were severely injured in pedestrian accidents when e-scooter riders hit them from behind. Several allege that malfunctioning brakes or throttles on the e-scooters they used caused their accidents.
The lawsuit alleges that e-scooter companies contributed to injuries in multiple ways by dumping the transportation devices on streets without appropriate warning or information, The Washington Post reported. The lawsuit also says scooter companies have provided inadequate safety instructions for riders and cites mechanical issues with scooters that have led to accidents. The risks e-scooters pose “were known and/or knowable” by manufacturers, the legal claim alleges.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer After a Bird Scooter Accident
Many local ordinances treat e-scooters like bicycles or motor vehicles. Certainly, they are like bicycles or motorcycles when it comes to the lack of protection afforded a scooter rider who is hit by a car or truck in a traffic accident and in the injury they can cause. If you have been injuried by a e-scooter, contact Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons today.
Negligent scooter riders who harm pedestrians, as well as negligent drivers who fail to share the road safely with e-scooters and cause accidents, can expect local personal injury attorneys to seek to hold them responsible for their negligence. Alternatively, e-scooter riders who injure themselves may seek compensation from the motorist who caused their injury or from the company that rented an unsafe scooter if the accident was caused by an equipment malfunction.