As a third company prepares to operate dockless electric scooters in Indianapolis, local emergency room doctors say up to two people a day are injured in Bird scooter accidents because of the thousands of scooters already operating here.
Bird and Lime scooters have had about 3,000 scooters on Indianapolis streets since last September. At the end of March, the city approved the addition of 1,200 more scooters to city streets by Spin, a company owned by Ford.
Meanwhile, Dr. Tyler Stepsis, medical director for the Eskenazi Health emergency department, estimated last November that the city was seeing up to 60 injuries a month because of Bird scooter crashes. “Just because you can get on them doesn’t mean you should,” he told the IndyStar.
Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC shared our concern for electric scooter safety and those who are injured in scooter accidents last October. The personal injury attorneys at Craig, Kelley & Faultless represent people who have been badly injured by others’ negligence, such as in a crash caused by a careless Bird scooter rider or a careless automobile driver.
What is a Bird Scooter?
The scooters are two-wheeled, rechargeable electric vehicles that users ride standing up. The scooters travel at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour.
The scooters are rented through a smartphone app and can be parked anywhere within a defined service area when the rider is done with the scooter.
Bird and Lime charge users $1 per ride plus 15 cents per minute used, or $10 for the first hour.
How Are Bird Scooters Being Used in Indianapolis?
Data released by Bird and Lime show that scooters in Indianapolis were taken on more than 554,000 trips from September through December of last year and were ridden more than 595,000 miles. That’s an average of 1,392 scooters taken on more than 4,467 scooter rides a day. But the numbers declined as the weather got colder, so scooter traffic should be on an upswing heading into spring and summer.
An analysis of scooter use by Nate Apathy, a doctoral candidate studying health and information technology at IUPUI, also found that scooters are more likely to be used during special events downtown, on weekends, at lunch and after work on weekdays.
The Issue of Safety with Bird Scooters in Indianapolis
Emergency room doctors who work in Indianapolis hospitals told the IndyStar that they’ve seen plenty of Bird scooter injuries. Dr. Keaton Morgan, a resident in emergency medicine at IU Health Methodist, estimated that scooter injuries numbered in the hundreds in the last half of 2018.
Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services logged more than 22 calls in September related to scooter injuries, 24 in October and five in the first four days of November.
“I would say you could safely double or triple that for the city and you have a more accurate count for the injuries,” said Stepsis, the emergency department director. “I couldn’t give you any exact data, but I can definitely tell you that electric scooter injuries are on the rise. We’re seeing more and more minor injuries and major injuries.”
Trauma center doctors across the country told Consumer Reports they’ve been treating serious injuries related to scooter crashes. Consumer Reports said it had 60 responses in which 23 hospitals or agencies said they treated 1,545 patients for scooter-involved injuries in the previous year, while 37 said either they don’t track scooter injuries, lack the capability to track them, or had no reports on file.
“‘We’ve had multiple concussions, nasal fractures, bilateral forearm fractures, and some people have required surgery,” says Beth Rupp, medical director at the Indiana University Health Center, in Bloomington, Indiana, where ride-share e-scooters were introduced in September.
Consumer Reports said it had confirmed at least four fatalities on electric scooters.
Common Bird Scooter Injuries
In January, doctors at UCLA, Stanford and the VA hospital in Los Angles published a one-year study of injuries associated with electric scooter use in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open. It is believed to be the first study of trauma associated with electric scooter use to provide data from a full year of ER visits.
Among 249 patients treated at two emergency rooms in UCLA-affiliated hospitals for injuries associated with electric scooter use, the most common injuries were head injuries, fractures and soft-tissue injuries.
Findings of the study include:
- 100 patients (40.2%) suffered a head injury
- 79 patients (31.7%) suffered fractures, most often to hands, forearms, feet, ankles and face
- 69 patients (27.7%) suffered contusions, sprains and lacerations without fracture or head injury
- 228 patients (91.6%) were injured while riding scooters
- 21 patients (8.4%) were pedestrians, including 11 hit by a scooter, five who tripped over a parked scooter and five who were attempting to lift or carry a scooter
- 27 patients were younger than 18 years (10.8%)
- 10 riders (4.4%) wore a helmet
- 12 patients (4.8%) had either a blood alcohol level greater than 0.05% or were perceived to be intoxicated by a physician.
The majority of patients (234, or 94%) were discharged and sent home from the emergency department. Of the 15 patients hospitalized, two had severe injuries and were admitted to the intensive care unit.
The hospitalized patients suffered from:
- 5 intracranial hemorrhages
- 5 musculoskeletal injuries, including one compound fracture
- 3 major abdominal or chest injuries
- 1 cervical spine fracture
- 1 concussion.
The most common causes of injury among scooter riders were:
- Falls – 183 riders or 80.2%
- Collisions with an object – 25 riders or 11%
- Being hit by a moving vehicle or object – 20 riders or 8.8%.
Can I Sue If I Was Injured in a Bird Scooter Accident?
If you were a scooter rider, a pedestrian or someone else unjustly harmed in a Bird, Lime or Spin scooter accident in Indianapolis, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your losses from the individual or organization at fault. Indiana personal injury law protects people injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by the carelessness or negligence of others.
The Indianapolis injury attorneys of Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC can seek justice for you. Contact us for a free legal consultation if you have been injured in a scooter accident that was someone else’s fault. We are skilled negotiators and aggressive litigators whose results speak for themselves. Let us help you.