Virginia Electric Scooter Accident Attorneys
Electric scooter-sharing systems are becoming increasingly popular across the United States, especially in larger cities. You may see scooters waiting for use, or in use, belonging to Bird, Lime, Skip, Spin, Lyft, Bolt, grüv, Sherpa, Wheels, and the Uber subsidiary Jump.
As a pilot study, Bird dropped hundreds of scooters at universities throughout the nation, including the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. In 2019, the General Assembly passed a house bill granting local jurisdictions the authority to regulate shared scooter services. The bill passed just weeks after the Richmond City Council voted in favor of regulating the operation of scooters.
Scooters can be dangerous, not only to riders, but to others using the streets, including bicyclists, pedestrians, and even vehicles. When scooter riders fail to obey local traffic rules, they create a high risk of personal injuries to themselves or others. And when other drivers fail to notice them, catastrophic injuries can result. That’s when you’ll want to call the Virginia personal injury lawyers at Emroch & Kilduff.
Richmond Regulates Scooters as Bicycles
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) defines scooters as electric personal assistive mobility devices. In addition, the VDOT defines a scooter as “every vehicle, regardless of the number of its wheels in contact with the ground, that (i) has no seat, but is designed to be stood upon by the operator, (ii) has no manufacturer-issued vehicle identification number, and (iii) is powered by an electric motor having an input of no more than 1,000 watts or a gasoline engine that displaces less than 36 cubic centimeters.”
The VDOT also states that, generally, electric scooters must obey the same rules that bicycle riders must adhere to.
Electric Scooter Safety Tips
Because scooters must follow the same rules imposed upon bicyclists, the safety tips are also similar.
- A scooter rider should always ride with the flow of traffic.
- If your city or county requires you to register a bicycle, check with the clerk to see if your city or county also requires scooter registration if you own your own scooter.
- Wear appropriate protective clothing, including elbow pads, knee pads, a helmet, and bright-colored clothing.
- Do not block sidewalks and entryways with the scooter. When parking a scooter, be sure it will not hinder the flow of pedestrian, bicycle and motor vehicle traffic. If you stop in the middle of a rental period or you own the scooter, lock it up if you leave it unattended.
- Always look out for traffic. People driving motor vehicles may not see you right away, if at all. In addition, watch for debris and potholes in the road. Even small debris and road hazards could make you lose control of the scooter. A sudden loss of control may cause you to collide with another vehicle or render the vehicle’s driver unable to safely avoid the accident.
- When you pass other vehicles on the road, observe the vehicle to anticipate their next move. If they are turning, you may be positioned in the driver’s blind spot.
- At night, be sure to wear reflective clothing to increase your visibility to other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Virginia’s Scooter Laws
Lawmakers in Virginia recently updated the laws pertaining to riding a motorized scooter. The update:
- Allows for a maximum scooter speed of 20 mph or less and maximum scooter weight of 100 pounds or less.
- Permits the operation of scooters within bicycle lanes and sidewalks, unless local law forbids it.
- Prohibits the operation of scooters after sunset and before sunrise, unless the scooter is equipped with visible lights.
- Requires operators to give pedestrians the right-of-way and use hand signals to navigate through traffic. Hand signals are required even when using sidewalks or bicycle lanes.
- Requires scooters to travel single file if the traffic flow requires it. Otherwise, operators are permitted to ride two abreast if space and traffic permits.
- Prohibits operation of a scooter by individuals under 14 years old. However, if someone younger than 14 is accompanied by an adult, aged 18 or older, they are permitted to operate a scooter.
- Requires operators to ride next to the right curb or edge of the road if traveling slower than traffic. On one-way roads, operators may ride scooters on the left side of the road.
Similar to pedestrians and bicyclists, scooter operators are afforded very little protection in a collision involving a motor vehicle. Thus, operators are at a high risk of severe or catastrophic injuries or death in the event of an accident. Injuries may range from minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises to catastrophic injuries that are permanent and debilitating. Common injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Internal bleeding;
- Shoulder and neck injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Simple fractures;
- Compound fractures;
- Pulled muscles;
- Sprains and strains; and
- Cuts, bumps, scrapes, and bruises.
Even if you believe you only sustained minor injuries, you should seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible. Some injuries, including the most severe, may not manifest symptoms for hours or days after the accident. Additionally, injuries including internal bleeding and broken ribs pose significant risks, and are likely to be initially undetectable. Get a thorough evaluation to diagnose any internal injuries you may not immediately see or feel.
After a scooter accident, contact an experienced electric scooter accident attorney as soon as possible. While the driver of the vehicle that hit you might be liable for damages, others may also be liable. Additional responsible parties may include the scooter manufacturer or an employer if a commercial vehicle was involved in the accident.
Damages that victims may be entitled to recover include economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Economic damages, often referred to as special damages. Economic damages include past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, personal property damage, and funeral and burial expenses.
Non-economic damages, often referred to as general damages, are harder to quantify because they do not have a set cost. General damages may include recovery for pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, inconvenience, and loss of use. The court typically awards general damages to victims who suffer long-term or permanent injuries.
Punitive damages do not cover costs associated with the losses you have endured. Rather, punitive damages are awarded as punishment. These damages are intended to deter the grossly negligent behavior that caused or contributed to the accident.
Contact Emroch & Kilduff’s Virginia Electric Scooter Accident Attorneys Now
If you are suffering from injuries incurred in an electric scooter accident, contact Emroch & Kilduff to schedule a free consultation. We have carefully researched the new laws closely.
Because of that, and our years of experience in personal injury and motor vehicle accident law, we are in a position to help you fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.
You can reach us at (804) 358-1568 or write to us online.