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E-Scooters & Waiving Your Right To Sue

Posted by Neil Shouse | Sep 24, 2019 | 0 Comments

e-scooters

If you have ridden a shared electric scooter, or E-scooter, you may have already waived your right to sue. E-scooter sharing companies Lime and Bird have extremely strict user agreements. Several provisions in them require you to waive some of your rights before riding.

Overcoming these provisions and waivers can be difficult. Your ability to opt-out of these provisions is very limited. Several E-scooter accident lawsuits are trying to overcome the waivers in court.

E-Scooter sharing companies use aggressive user agreements

Before being able to unlock and ride a shared E-scooter with Lime or Bird, you have to agree to their user agreement. This is a type of liability waiver. These waivers are extensive and very long. Bird's is 18 pages,1 while Lime's is 35 pages long.2 However, if you do not click the “I Agree” button, you will not be allowed to ride their E-scooters.

By agreeing to the user agreement, though, you disclaim the company's liability in a lot of situations. You also waive a lot of your rights.

You waive your right to bring or join a class action

Both Bird and Lime have provisions in their user agreement that force you to waive your class action rights.3 These sections force users to agree to only bring a claim as an individual, rather than as a class of people.

Class action waivers in contracts like these are strong.4 Overcoming it to join a class action is very unlikely.

This can have serious repercussions for products liability claims against Lime or Bird. These lawsuits claim that defective E-scooters caused certain crashes and injuries. However, they tend to rely on class actions or other consolidation methods because different accidents had distinct similarities. Class action waivers keep these lawsuits separated, hurting victims and plaintiffs.

You agree to a binding arbitration hearing rather than a lawsuit

Several provisions in the user agreements that Lime and Bird use deal with binding arbitration. In these provisions, you are forced to agree to take a claim against Lime or Bird to arbitration rather than court.5

By funneling your claim into arbitration, Lime and Bird get a hearing process that they want. They chose arbitration because victims rarely win in an arbitration hearing.

It also allows the company to choose where arbitration will be held. Bird uses this opportunity to require arbitration to be held in Los Angeles.6 If you were hurt on the East Coast, you will have to travel for your arbitration hearing.

You waive your right to a jury trial

By agreeing to binding arbitration, you agree to waive your right to a jury trial.7

By waiving your right to a jury trial, any claim you bring against Lime or Bird will be heard by a paid judge. This can hurt your ability to recover compensation, even if you are able to have your case heard.

Bird allows you to opt-out of the class action and arbitration provisions

Bird has a section in its user agreement that allows you to opt-out of its class action and arbitration provisions.8 If you opt-out, you keep your right to sue Bird in court and join a class action.

Opting-out, though, is not an option for many Bird users. To opt-out, you have to send written notice that you are opting out to the following address:

Bird Rides, Inc.
406 Broadway, #369
Santa Monica, California 90401

This written notice has to be sent within 30 days of your first E-scooter ride. If that window has passed, you are presumed to have agreed to waive your rights.

Lime does not have an opt-out provision. This makes it more difficult to file a Lime E-scooter accident lawsuit.

Lawsuits try to overcome user agreements

E-scooter user agreements have been controversial. A lot of people think they are unfair to victims and insulate E-scooter sharing companies too well. This is leaving victims uncompensated and Lime and Bird being valued in the billions of dollars.

Some lawsuits have been filed against Bird and Lime in spite of these strict terms and conditions. Some are claiming that the companies are acting with “gross negligence.”9 Liability for gross negligence cannot be disclaimed in a waiver in some states.

Other lawsuits are focused on claiming Bird and Lime were negligent for providing defective vehicles.10 These lawsuits do not include victims who were hurt in other kinds of accidents.


References:

  1. Bird E-Scooter Rental Agreement (April 30, 2019).

  2. Lime E-Scooter Rental Agreement (December 7, 2018).

  3. See Lime Agreement at § 2.8 and Bird Agreement at § 9.4.

  4. See AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333 (2011).

  5. See Lime Agreement at § 2.3 and Bird Agreement at § 9.2.

  6. Bird Agreement at § 9.3.

  7. See Lime Agreement at § 2.3 and Bird Agreement at § 9.2.

  8. Bird Agreement at § 9.6.

  9. See Peter Holley, “Class-action lawsuit accuses e-scooter companies of ‘gross negligence,'The Washington Post (October 20, 2018).

  10. See Joshua Emerson Smith, “Injured scooter riders line up to sue Bird and Lime, but ‘user agreements' could shield companies,The San Diego Union-Tribune (November 5, 2018).

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.

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