Electric scooters, or e-scooters, have given rise to scooter accidents in Chicago. According to a 2021 evaluation of Chicago’s Electric Scooter Pilot Program, scooter accidents have resulted in emergency room visits for pedestrians and riders alike.
Considering how accessible e-scooters have become, it seems likely that these accidents will only become more common with time. This means that knowing Chicago’s laws can make a big difference, whether you’re trying to make a claim or avoid a lawsuit.
We’ll walk you through Chicago’s laws regarding electric scooter accidents so you’re prepared for whatever happens next.
Are E-scooters Vehicles?
Some Chicago residents and riders have raised questions about whether or not E-scooters are vehicles. Under Section 1-217 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, vehicles are devices that can transport people or property without being “moved by human power.” By this definition, e-scooters are vehicles, and because they are vehicles, riders need to follow the same rules that apply to motor vehicles.
Failure to follow the rules of the road while riding an e-scooter can render the rider liable for any resulting damages or injuries.
The Different Causes of Scooter Accidents in Chicago
Scooter accidents can happen as the result of several different factors. However, the most prevalent cause is rider behavior. Very often, accidents occur when riders maneuver their scooters in a manner that disregards safety rules. There are also instances of scooter accidents occurring because of non-human factors, like scooter malfunction or hazards on sidewalks and roads.
The following are the most common reasons why scooter accidents take place in Chicago:
Disregard for Traffic Laws
Chicago’s traffic laws are in place to ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians alike. E-scooter riders violate these laws if they haphazardly switch from a bike lane to the sidewalk or speed past stop signs or intersections.
These violations put the lives of motorists, pedestrians, and the riders themselves at risk. With this in mind, e-scooter riders must remain compliant with Chicago’s road rules.
Using Devices While Riding
Riding an e-scooter is similar to riding a motorcycle, moped, or bicycle. It demands the rider’s full focus on the road and one’s surroundings. When a rider takes an e-scooter out and uses a device like a mobile phone, the rider’s attention is divided; even a split second of not paying attention to the road can have catastrophic consequences.
Scooter accidents have also been linked to riding under the influence of alcohol. While intoxicated, a rider’s judgment of the road and ability to see hazards are both impaired. As a result, the rider can make poor decisions that can endanger the lives of themselves and others.
The resulting injuries are often more severe for the rider. Exposed, with little to no protection other than a helmet, intoxicated riders can sustain severe fractures, head trauma, and joint dislocations. With enough impact, riders are even at risk of puncturing their organs. The resulting internal bleeding can be especially difficult to stop due to the blood-thinning effects of alcohol.
Sometimes, accidents are not the rider’s fault. A road or sidewalk may have objects or holes that aren’t easy to spot. Some safety hazards, like construction sites, will not have signs; by the time that riders notice these safety hazards, it is often too late.
In these scenarios, premise owners may be liable. Under Section 2 of Illinois’s Premise Liability Act, premise owners should either ensure that the areas they own are safe or warn entrants of dangers. Hence, riders who have been victims of scooter accidents can claim compensation from the premise owner for not ensuring the safety on the premises or providing a warning.
E-scooters can cause accidents when they malfunction. For example, if the motor seizes up, the e-scooter could stop abruptly, resulting in the rider being thrust forward. This can also cause a collision, damaging property and harming pedestrians.
In such situations, the manufacturers of the scooter can be held liable for any injuries or other damages.
Who is Held Liable for Scooter Accidents?
The victims of scooter accidents can be the rider, a pedestrian (or multiple pedestrians), other motorists, or anyone whose property is damaged by the accident. Any of these parties can claim damages if they sustain injuries or material damages from scooter accidents.
For a successful claim, victims of injuries must prove that one of the following parties is liable for the accident:
The E-scooter Rider
If an e-scooter rider is at fault for your accident, you can claim damages. To successfully do this, you must prove that the driver was negligent. You can do this by pointing out a violation of a traffic law. You may also point out intoxication if you suspect it.
However, proving liability and negligence can be challenging. This is why we highly recommend hiring a personal injury lawyer if you have been in an e-scooter accident.
The Owner of a Premise
As mentioned earlier, you may get into an e-scooter accident due to the negligence of a property owner. In this situation, you need to prove that you would not have been injured had it not been for the hazard.
The E-scooter Manufacturer
When a scooter malfunctions, the rider is not to blame. Rather, the liability falls on the manufacturer.
However, proving the negligence of an electric scooter manufacturer on your own will be incredibly difficult, as the manufacturer has the resources to mount a full legal defense. If you feel that a malfunction led to your scooter injuries, you must get legal representation from an experienced personal injury lawyer in Chicago.
The Best Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer for Scooter Accidents
Getting compensation for your injuries will not be a walk in the park in Chicago. For the best possible outcome for your scooter accident claim, hire one of the best personal injury lawyers in the city. Call us now if you or someone you know has been the victim of a scooter accident in Chicago, and do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions.