In 2018, many companies, including Lime, Bird and Spin, began to roll out motorized scooter rentals throughout the U.S. Currently, it is believed that 8 people have died from e-scooter related accidents and over 1,500 have been injured. Before you decide to rent a scooter, you should understand the insurance implications and know whether you are covered under any insurance policy, in the event of an accident.
So, are you covered if you run into and injure a pedestrian while on an e-scooter? What if you are injured when a car hits you? Who covers your medical bills?
The scooter driver will likely be held liable for mistakes made and injuries cause while operating the scooter. The largest companies, Lime and Bird, attempt to place accident responsibility on the riders by including “fine print” in their use agreement. It is important that you read the fine print when downloading the app to ensure that you fully understand that, by using the e-scooter, you are agreeing that the scooter company bears no liability while you operate it.
However, the e-scooter company may bear some liability, particularly if they fail to comply with local laws, or if the accident occurs due to a faulty scooter.
Many cities, including Seattle, require scooter companies to obtain a permit from the city and provide proof of insurance before they can legally operate. Currently, e-scooters have access to highways and shared-use paths to the same extent as bicycles. RCW 46.61.710. However, this is also subject to local regulations.
Generally, automobile liability insurance policies omit liability coverage for motor vehicles with fewer than four wheels, unless otherwise specified. Our statutes define a “motor vehicle” as “every vehicle that is self-propelled.” RCW 46.04.320. However, RCW 46.04.336 specifically excludes motorized foot scooters from this definition. Therefore, many insurance policies may not apply to motorized scooters. This means that, if you injure someone, your own automobile insurance policy may not protect you.
A homeowner’s policy or renter’s insurance policy may provide you with insurance to cover any injuries that you cause, but this depends on your specific policy. Another option is to add an “umbrella policy” which can cover most scenarios or you can ask about a recreational vehicle category. Speak to your insurance agent about this.
If you are injured while using the scooter, the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage of your own automobile policy may kick in to cover medical bills for you or someone you injure. However, you need to read the fine print of your policy (assuming you have purchased this type of insurance) to see if an e-scooter is excluded.
If another vehicle hits you while you are riding an e-scooter, there is potential to access the other driver’s auto insurance for your medical bills under PIP. regardless of who is at fault, and for the rest of your damages under the liability section of the policy, if you can establish that the other driver shared any fault in causing the crash.
If you are injured in a crash, your personal health coverage may initially decline to pay your medical bills. However, most health insurers will eventually do the right thing by providing coverage.
Parents of minors should pay close attention, as they are responsible for a minor’s negligent conduct that injures or damages another’s person or property. RCW 4.24.190 caps the injured party’s recovery against a parent at $5,000. However, if a parent knows that a child has dangerous tendencies, fails to reasonably supervise or control these tendencies, and a third party sustains reasonably foreseeable injuries because of that failure to supervise or control, the parent may be found liable for all of the damages.
If you were in an accident involving a motorized scooter, it is imperative to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney. Each set of circumstances is unique, which may result in a different outcome. Gosanko & O’Halloran is a team of skilled attorneys who understand the law and can help you recover fair compensation.