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Indianapolis Regulating Bird Scooters in Wake of Accidents Across US

As one of the cities dealing with the popularity of Bird electric scooters, Indianapolis has adopted rules for safe scooter use.

Indianapolis seems to be a step ahead of many larger cities facing an influx of rentable electric scooters offered by Bird, Lime and other companies. But the city’s scooter regulations make some riders feel unsafe. They require scooter operators to ride on the street and prohibit riding on sidewalks.

As the IndyStar explained: “Riders feel unsafe riding on streets, where city rules say they should be. Pedestrians feel unsafe when scooters zip by on the sidewalk. And drivers feel unsafe when scooters occupy the same traffic lanes they do.”

The scooters have been linked to more than 20 accidents involving injuries in Indianapolis in September, the first month of operation, the newspaper reported.

As legal advocates for personal injury victims in Indianapolis and across Indiana, the attorneys of Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC are concerned about the safety of electric scooters and the legal rights of those who are injured.

What are Bird Scooters and Where Are They in Indianapolis?

Bird, the biggest of several e-scooter companies, and Lime have been licensed to operate in Indianapolis since early September, when the city initially allowed each company to put 1,000 scooters onto city streets.

Bird has deployed e-scooters in downtown across the country and told Indianapolis leaders its ridership numbers here were among the best it has seen, according to the IndyStar.

Bird has plans to deploy 6,000 scooters and Lime 1,800 throughout the city, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Dock-free electric scooters are two-wheeled vehicles that users rent through a smartphone app and can ride and later park anywhere within a defined geographic service area. They travel at speeds of up to 15 mph. Scooter companies hire teams of contractors to locate and retrieve scooters overnight, then recharge and reposition them on street corners for use the following day.

Bird and Lime charge a $1 fee per ride plus 15 cents per minute used, or $10 for the first hour, and the City of Indianapolis charges each company a $15,000 fee to operate plus $1 per day per device on the street.

Enforcing Electronic Scooter Use after Accidents in Indianapolis

A spokesman for Indianapolis EMS told the IndyStar that Indianapolis emergency workers responded to 22 scooter-related accidents in September, not including hospital walk-ins. Injuries in scooter accidents included bruises, scrapes and broken bones, but most were facial and head trauma among riders who did not wear helmets.

“(Riders are) falling and a lot of time falling on their head and face,” EMS Medical Director Dr. Daniel O’Donnell said. “I’ve yet to see someone who’s wearing a helmet.”

Both scooter companies and the city say scooter riders should wear a helmet, but Indiana does not have a law requiring the use of helmets for motorized or nonmotorized vehicles.

Indianapolis City-County Council rules for e-scooters require riding them on streets and in bike lanes where available. The rules prohibit their use on sidewalks, trails or along the canal. Riders are required to be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department began enforcing scooter rules in October after a grace period, saying riders should approach their use of e-scooters as they would a car and abide by all traffic laws. For example, being intoxicated while operating a scooter could lead to an OWI or DUI charge.

Officers patrolling the city have begun issuing tickets to scooter riders who violate operating rules such as riding on sidewalks as they can injure others or even worse, cause a fatality. The first citation requires the rider to pay $20. If the fine isn’t paid within 28 days, it goes up to $40. There is also a $25 fine for parking scooters in prohibited areas, such as driveways, curb ramps, handicapped parking spaces and loading zones.

Electric Scooter Accidents, Injuries Common in U.S. Cities

Indianapolis’ experience with e-scooter accidents and injuries is not unique. Other cities where Bird, Lime and other electric scooter companies, such as Jump, Spin, Ofo, Muving and Relay, offer their rentable rides have seen a rash of accidents since the introduction of e-scooters early this summer.

In Raleigh, N.C., EMS crews responded to at least 22 serious electric scooter crashes between July when Bird scooters were introduced to downtown streets and mid-October. A spokesman for San Diego’s Scripps Mercy Hospital said in late October that, since June, the hospital had seen about 30 injuries from scooter accidents that required hospitalization.

The University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City, said it saw 21 patients injured in scooter accidents from June, when rentable e-scooters became available in the city, to September. “The hospital reported that nearly half … were fractures and dislocations of ankles, wrists, elbows and shoulders, as well as several cases of sprains and lacerations,” the Salt Lake Tribune said.

The Washington Post said in early September it had interviewed emergency-room physicians in seven cities, including Austin, Atlanta and Nashville, and each reported a spike in severe accidents after e-scooters became available on their city’s streets.

The Post also reported that the September 2 death of a 24-year-old Dallas, Texas, man who crashed an e-scooter he rented was likely the nation’s first electric scooter fatality. The death of a 20-year-old man riding an electric scooter that collided with an SUV at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., in late September was the first fatal e-scooter accident in the U.S. Capital.

Speak to a Scooter Wreck Lawyer After Being Injured

As in a car, truck, motorcycle or bicycle accident, if you are injured in an electric scooter accident caused by someone else’s negligence, Indiana law is on your side. You may have a right to seek compensation from the person or organization at fault for your medical bills, lost work time, property damage and more.

The Indianapolis personal injury lawyers of Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC can seek justice for you. Contact us for a free legal consultation after an e-scooter accident that has left you injured, whether you were the scooter rider, a pedestrian or someone else unjustly harmed. Our lawyers are skilled negotiators and aggressive litigators whose results against insurance companies speak for themselves. We want to help you.