On Saturday, a man was critically injured when the scooter he was driving smashed into the rear of a parked Honda RAV4. A report on Gephard Daily shows that the accident occurred around 1:30 p.m. across from Pioneer Park at 400 South and 300 West. Those who witnessed the crash began to perform CPR on the man. Soon afterword, medical professionals arrived and rushed the man to a hospital. The man was reportedly suffering severe head trauma which was life-threatening. Due to his injuries, the man had to undergo emergency surgery on Saturday evening. The man’s name has still not been released. The exact cause of the accident is still unknown.
A story featured in the Salt Lake Tribune back in July documented some of the problems the city was having with the new means of transportation. According to the article, the dockless e-scooter company has a reputation of placing its vehicles in a city then dealing with the city’s regulation’s after the fact. For example, supposedly, the city had no prior knowledge of the scooters until they were flooding the streets, ridden by locals and tourists. The deputy director of Salt Lake’s community and neighborhoods said, “We’re excited about these types of devices, and we really want to work in partnership with these companies to make sure that people have options–but that they’re also safe and that people are following the rules…I think the city is just trying to find a balance between those things.”
To use the scooters, riders must be at least 18 and have a valid driver’s license. Similarly, if riders wish to use a helmet, they will have to provide their own. The function of the scooters is similar to those of Salt Lake’s bike-share program. However, the scooters do not require docking. A rider can drop the scooter wherever they please.
As mentioned, the cause of this accident is still unknown. We hope the rider of the scooter can make a speedy recovery. Regarding liability in this accident, there are a variety of causes that could have contributed to this accident. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say there are really two different possibilities for what might have happened.
The accident could have been caused by driver error, where the driver might have tried to brake, but instead accelerated. This type of accident is relatively infrequent, but can still happen. According to an article published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over the past ten years, there have been 899 cases of pedal misapplication. Typically, this accident is caused by increasing driver age and impairments in drivers. Although the data in these cases relate specifically to automobiles, the misapplication of brake and accelerator could hold for scooters as well. More likely, it could have been more general driver error. In this type of accident, the driver could be seen as responsible for the crash and would not be able to reclaim any damages in a court of law.
On the other hand, the accident could have been caused by scooter malfunction. For instance, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration publishes a yearly Traffic Safety Facts report. In this report, they explore the “critical reasons” for a crash. Critical reasons are meant to determine the last event in the causal chain that ultimately caused the accident. In their report from February 2015, they surveyed over two million crashes nationwide and concluded that only about two percent of critical reasons for crashes were due to a vehicle component failure or degradation. Of these component failures, about 35 percent was due to tire problems and 22 percent was due to brake-related issues. Again these numbers are related to car accidents specifically; therefore, these numbers could be higher or lower for scooters. If the scooter did have a brake problem, then the rider would be able to hold the scooter company liable.
For those who are interested in riding the scooters, KSL has put together a good list of safety tips involving where to ride, how to ride, and where to park the scooters. We recommend following these safety tips and others to be sure you are safe while using the scooters. If you have any specific questions about an accident, please contact The Advocates Law Firm. We are always willing to answer your questions.