A Guide to Lime Scooter Accident Lawsuits

Lime scooter accident lawsuits are personal injury claims for crashes involving one of Lime's electric scooters, or E-scooters. They claim that Lime or a third party acted negligently and this was responsible for the E-scooter accident. They seek compensation that covers the victim's:

Because Lime's E-scooters are provided for ridesharing, though, there are some aspects of these lawsuits that make them unique. One of the most important nuances to lawsuits involving Lime E-scooter accident is the liability waiver that Lime requires riders to sign before using their scooters.

The California personal injury lawyers at the Shouse Law Office can help you file a lawsuit and recover the compensation you deserve. In this article, we discuss:

lime scooter

1. Lime's E-scooter sharing business

Lime is a business that provides shared electric scooters for people to ride.

Because this service is almost exclusively useful in urban areas and college campuses, Lime only offers it in certain places. Since its inception in March, 2017, Lime has spread to over 100 cities and colleges in the U.S., Europe, South America, and Australia. In California, Lime E-scooters can be found in:

  • Culver City,
  • Long Beach,
  • Los Angeles,
  • Oakland,
  • San Diego,
  • San Jose,
  • Santa Monica, and
  • South Lake Tahoe.

Lime E-scooters have also been introduced on the following California campuses:

  • UCLA, and
  • California State University, Monterey Bay.

1.1 How Lime puts the public at risk with its E-scooters

Lime has attracted controversy for how it introduces its E-scooters to new cities. The aggressive way that Lime enters new markets has been known to put innocent members of the public – as well as Lime's own riders – at serious risk.

Different states and even different cities regulate E-scooters in different ways. These regulations can depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • Street and sidewalk width,
  • Congestion on city streets,
  • Foot traffic on city sidewalks,
  • Prevalence of bike lanes in downtown areas, and
  • Local parking rules.

Some cities, therefore, require E-scooters to stay on the streets. In other cities where street riding would be too dangerous, regulations require E-scooters to stay on the sidewalks. In still other cities, local regulations can prohibit E-scooters completely or be entirely silent on the issue.

Rather than sort these rules out, beforehand, Lime enters new cities by simply dropping off a fleet of E-scooters and letting things work themselves out.

Because of this market entry strategy, cities become suddenly inundated with inexperienced E-scooter riders who do not know the rules. In many cases, police have no way to enforce traffic laws because their city does not have any that apply to E-scooters.

To add to the confusion, Lime's instruction videos that tell users how to ride their E-scooters only give general tips. They do not explain local E-scooter riding regulations, and the instructions they provide can sometimes even contradict local laws.1

1.2 How to rent and ride a Lime E-scooter

People in these cities can download Lime's smartphone app to find and rent E-scooters.

For a flat rental fee plus a per-minute price, people can unlock a dockless Lime E-scooter by scanning the QR code on the scooter's handlebar.

After riding it to their destination, riders can leave it anywhere they want – rather than finding a designated parking place, they just have to end the ride in the app. Lime says that it requires users to take a picture of their parked E-scooter so subsequent riders can find the vehicle. However, the picture can be used as evidence that the scooter was improperly parked.

When the E-scooter ride is ended in the smartphone app, Lime deducts the price of the ride from the credit card the user provided when they signed up for the service.

1.3 E-scooters in Lime's fleet

Lime uses a small variety of electric scooters in its fleet. These are:

  • Lime-S Generation 1,
  • Lime-S Generation 2,
  • Lime-S Generation 3, and
  • Lime-S Ninebot ES4.

Generations 1 through 3 are all manufactured by Lime. The Ninebot ES4 is manufactured by the company Segway and was used heavily by Lime in the company's early months. However, the Ninebot ES4 is an E-scooter that is usually bought by individual consumers, making it too fragile for ridesharing.

Lime's own E-scooters all have technology that make them more durable and are designed for the rigors of sharing, like:

  • Wheels without tires that can puncture,
  • Motors and batteries that are more powerful, allowing for longer rides and extra time between charges,
  • Extra support on the E-scooter's frame and suspension for added durability, and
  • Internet connectivity for GPS signals and remote damage reporting.

Regardless of the model, Lime's E-scooters can all go up to 16 miles per hour and have ranges of up to 25 miles.

The batteries in the E-scooters are recharged by independent contractors paid by Lime. Called “juicers,” these workers receive charging equipment from Lime. They collect E-scooters in the evening, charge them overnight, and return them to designated “groves” where demand is high for the next day.

lime car accident

2. The 5 types of E-scooter accidents

There are 5 different kinds of accidents involving Lime's E-scooters:

  1. Pedestrians tripping and falling over a discarded E-scooter,
  2. Single-vehicle accidents that only hurt the person riding the Lime E-scooter,
  3. Defective Lime scooters breaking during a ride and causing a crash
  4. Crashes involving a Lime E-scooter and a pedestrian, and
  5. Crashes involving a Lime E-scooter and a car.

Some of these crashes are more severe than others, while others are more common. These incidents can also lead to Bird injury accident lawsuits.

2.1 Pedestrians tripping over discarded Lime E-scooters

A surprisingly common accident involving Lime's E-scooters is when a pedestrian trips and falls on a scooter that has been discarded after use.

Dockless E-scooters like Lime's are touted as being far more convenient than shared vehicles that need to be returned to designated street corners or hubs. These drop-off points can be several hundred yards away from a rider's end destination, while dockless scooters can be left right at the destination's doorstep.

However, that means E-scooters are often left scattered on busy sidewalks for walkers to navigate and potentially trip over.

If this happens and a pedestrian gets hurt in their fall, they could be entitled to compensation from one of the following parties, depending on the circumstances:

  • The owner of the premises where the E-scooter was left, if it was on private property,
  • The E-scooter rider who left it, if it was foreseeable for someone to trip and fall on it,
  • The local government, if the city assumed responsibility for controlling them, or
  • Bird, if they have assumed a legal responsibility to control discarded E-scooters in order to operate in the city.

2.2 E-scooter accidents that only hurt the rider

The most common accidents involving a Lime E-scooter are single-vehicle crashes that hurt the scooter rider and no one else.

A significant portion of these crashes happen because of the rider's inexperience on an E-scooter. The surprising speeds of Lime's E-scooters, together with the relative instability of a scooter and unfamiliar driving mechanism, create a learning curve for riders to master. If they make a mistake and fall off, they can get seriously hurt: A study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that 33% of E-scooter riders who got hurt were in the middle of their first ride.2

However, just because the rider was the only one involved does not necessarily make them responsible for the crash. Certain road hazards can make riding an E-scooter difficult and could shift liability for the crash onto the local government, like:

  • Sidewalk blocks that have huge changes in elevation,
  • Potholes, and
  • Hidden patches of rough road or sidewalk.

In addition to road hazards, other people and drivers can cause single-vehicle E-scooter accidents that hurt the rider. When pedestrians or drivers are distracted and unaware of their surroundings, they can force E-scooter riders off the road or into a hazard that makes them fall in order to avoid a collision.

2.3 Defective Lime E-scooters can cause a crash

Lime's E-scooters, themselves, have been known to cause accidents that leave the rider and others seriously hurt.

Some of the company's E-scooters have a history of breaking apart during a ride. Despite warnings from Lime's own employees, the company continued to rent out suspect scooters for ridesharing.3

Other E-scooters have been plagued with a defect that would cause the brake to suddenly activate at high speeds against the rider's will.4 While Lime has claimed that this only happens on 0.0045% of the rides that people take, it also claims that millions of rides happen every year, making these defects a risk to hundreds of people.5

2.4 E-scooter accidents involving pedestrians

Accidents involving Lime E-scooters and pedestrians get the most attention because of how vocal pedestrians are about the threats posed by E-scooters on the sidewalks. These crashes also tend to be among the most severe because the pedestrians who get hit and hurt are often blindsided by E-scooters that are being driven recklessly.

For E-scooter riders, though, there are also plenty of instances where the pedestrian caused or at least contributed to the crash. Many walkers are distracted or oblivious to their surroundings. If you were riding a Lime E-scooter and hit a pedestrian, it is not automatically your fault.

2.5 Accidents involving Lime E-scooters and cars

Lime E-scooter accidents between scooters and cars tend to be the most severe. E-scooter riders have very little protection against the impact, and often suffer serious injuries as a result.

An especially common accident between cars and E-scooters happens when someone in a parked car opens their door into the path of an approaching E-scooter. Known as “dooring,” this type of accident can leave E-scooter riders with no time to avoid crashing into the door. In fact, dooring accidents can be even worse if there is time for the scooter rider to take evasive action. Those maneuvers can take the scooter into the path of other cars and make what would have been a bad accident even worse.

In California, cases like these can use Vehicle Code 22517 as evidence that the person who opened the car door was liable for the crash.6

person in hospital

3. Injuries from Lime E-scooter accidents are surprisingly severe

Hospitals have noted a sharp increase in emergency room visits after Lime entered the city.7 The severity of these injuries can be surprising.

The study conducted by the CDC found that nearly half of the 190 E-scooter riders it covered had injuries it defined as “severe.” Victims with severe injuries included:

  • 48% with a fracture, abrasion, or laceration to the head,
  • 35% with a broken bone that was not a finger, toe, or nose,
  • 19% had multiple fractures, and
  • 3% had skull fractures.8

Another medical study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at 249 people who went to the emergency room after an E-scooter accident. It found that head injuries were the most common type of injury the victims suffered9:

Head Injuries

40.2%

Broken Bones and Fractures

31.7%

Soft Tissue Injuries

27.7%

4. Compensation available to victims who file E-scooter accident lawsuits

If you get hurt in an E-scooter accident on a Lime vehicle, you could be entitled to compensatory damages. These aim to cover the costs of the crash because it was not your fault. They include:

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Past and future medical bills,
  • Professional ramifications for the accident, including lost wages and reduced earning capacity, and
  • Loss of consortium for your family.

5. Lime's user agreement and its effect on E-scooter accident lawsuits

Lime has taken steps to insulate itself from paying for these compensatory damages by having riders agree to an aggressive user agreement before being allowed to ride its E-scooters.10

Known as a “click-wrap contract” because it forces you to click on a button that says “I agree” before getting to ride an E-scooter, Lime's user agreement lists all of the situations where they cannot be held liable for an accident. For example, there are provisions in Lime's user agreement that:

  • Try to make blanket disclaimers of liability,11
  • Require riders to learn and abide by local regulations, even if they contradict Lime's own instructions on how to ride an E-scooter,12
  • Force riders to claim that they are already familiar with riding E-scooters and are able to ride one safely,13 and
  • Disclaim liability for any defects on one of Lime's E-scooters.14

Despite the importance of the agreement – or because of it – Lime has written its user agreement to be 55 pages long. As a result, very few people who have ridden Lime's E-scooters have read what it says.

5.1 The forced arbitration agreement

Among the key components in Lime's user agreement is the provision that prohibits injured people from forming class actions and that forces them to resolve their dispute with Lime in arbitration rather than in court.15

Under the user agreement, that arbitration has to be conducted by Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services, Inc.16 Whatever claims are to be arbitrated have to be asserted within one year.17

Overcoming this arbitration agreement so you can have your day in court is not impossible, though. This is increasingly true, as more and more people get hurt and file Lime scooter accident lawsuits and courts become aware of how unfair Lime's user agreements can be for victims.

scooter attorneys
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Legal References :

  1. See Peter Holley, “A Lime scooter accident left Ashanti Jordan in a vegetative state. Now her mother is suing on her behalf,” The Washington Post (February 11, 2019).

  2. Dockless Electric Scooter-Related Injuries Study – Austin, Texas, September-November 2018,” Austin Public Health (April, 2019).

  3. Peter Holley, “Electric scooter giant Lime launches global recall of one of its models amid fears that scooters can break apart,” The Washington Post (November 10, 2018).

  4. Peter Holley, “Lime scooter riders are being injured by ‘sudden excessive braking,' company says,” The Washington Post (February 25, 2019).

  5. Press Release, “Safety Update – February 2019,” Lime (February 23, 2019).

  6. California Vehicle Code 22517 (“No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”)

  7. See e.g., Mary Wisniewski, “Watch Out! Cities With Electric Scooters Have Seen Hundreds of Injuries, from Broken Arms to Brain Trauma,” Chicago Tribune (May 13, 2019).

  8. See note 2.

  9. Trivedi TK, Liu C, Antonio ALM, et al., “Injuries Associated With Standing Electric Scooter Use,” Journal of the American Medical Association 2(1):e187381 (January 25, 2019).

  10. Lime User Agreement (Effective December 7, 2018).

  11. See e.g., note 10 at Section 1.15 (“You agree that you are solely responsible and liable for any… damages… of any kind, or nature whatsoever, whether foreseeable or unforeseeable, and whether known or unknown, as a result of using” Lime's E-scooters) and Section 1.4.6 (“To the fullest extent permitted by applicable law and without limiting anything else in this Agreement, Lime reserves the right to hold You fully responsible for all damage, losses, claims and liability arising from Your use of any Vehicle”).

  12. See Note 10 at Section 1.8 (“You agree to follow all laws, rules, regulations, and/or ordinances pertaining to the use, riding and/or operation of the Products, including, without limitation, helmet laws”).

  13. See Note 10 at Section 1.5 (“You represent and certify that You are familiar with the operation of the Product, and You are reasonably competent and physically fit to use the Product”).

  14. See Note 10 at Section 6.2.7 (Lime makes “no representations, warranties, endorsements, or promises, express or implied, as to…whether any defects to or errors on the Services will be repaired or corrected”).

  15. See Note 10 at Section 2.

  16. See Note 10 at Section 2.4

  17. See Note 10 at Section 2.6.

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