In cities across the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world, municipally contracted rideshare services give commuters access to a fast, affordable, environmentally friendly, and fun mode of transportation. The electric scooter, or e-scooter, has revolutionized the way thousands of people travel locally. These motorized, stand-up scooters are used for both leisure and short distance travel. Soon, Ontarians may begin to see increased use of e-scooters in our province, as well.
Ontario is currently in the midst of a five-year pilot project aimed at rolling e-scooters onto its roads. During this pilot phase, individual municipalities may decide to allow e-scooter riding on roadways and on the shoulder of highways. The pilot project is aimed at offering e-scooter rideshare services to municipalities across the province.
Similar to bike-share services offered in cities across the province, e-scooter rideshare programs would let service subscribers rent an e-scooter for a short period of time. Many mobile-based e-scooter rideshare programs operate without installing docking stations around the cities in which they operate. That means that, once a person’s recreational ride or commute via e-scooter is complete, they can simply leave the e-scooter for its next rider to collect. Riders will be directed to the nearest e-scooter in their area via the service’s app, which can also be used to unlock the device.
While the pilot program rolls out to different municipalities across Ontario, retailers are still able to sell e-scooters to individual riders, regardless of whether or not they are legal to ride in public locally. People who have purchased their own e-scooter may already be practicing how to use them on their own property, in anticipation of local legalization in their city.
However, road safety experts warn of the many dangers involved with introducing e-scooters as a mode of local transportation. Simply by looking at the numbers of injuries caused by e-scooters in American and European cities, it is clear that local public health officials should be concerned.
E-scooter riding can be dangerous, both for the person operating the device and for the people around them. If you have been injured while riding an e-scooter, or if someone riding an e-scooter injured you, you may be eligible to pursue damages resulting from your injuries. To learn how an Ontario personal injury lawyer may be able to assist you, book a consultation with Preszler Injury Lawyers today.
Is It Legal to Ride an E-Scooter in Ontario?
The five-year provincial pilot program to begin introducing e-scooters to different municipalities throughout Ontario began on January 1, 2020. This new regulation made under the Highway Traffic Act requires that all e-scooters in the province be equipped with a bell or a horn and an electric motor of less than 500 watts. E-scooters cannot exceed a speed of 24 km/hr. Riders must be over the age of 16, and all riders under 18 years of age are required to wear a helmet.
However, whether or not you are legally allowed to ride an e-scooter in public is dependent on your regional municipality. While cities like Ottawa have already opted into the province’s pilot program, many municipalities are wary of amending their bylaws to legalize e-scooters on public streets and sidewalks.
As of April 2021, it appears likely that the city of Toronto will not approve e-scooters for use on its streets, sidewalks, bike lanes, outdoor trails, or in any other public areas. The decision to opt out of the provincial pilot program is based on unresolved insurance issues, accessibility barriers, and the concern that the pilot program would create “a general safety hazard in the public realm.”
Even though it is legal for retailers to sell e-scooters in cities like Toronto and Vaughan, it is currently illegal to publicly ride those e-scooters in those jurisdictions. This loophole presents a great risk to public safety. Unless people who have purchased their e-scooter to ride exclusively on their private property, they are likely to take these motorized devices for a spin in public, increasing their risk of injuries.
What Are the Risks of Riding an E-Scooter?
If riding an e-scooter in public is legal in your region, it is important to weigh its benefits against its risks before deciding to purchase and/or ride one. Electric scooters may be an eco-friendly way of getting from Point A to Point B quickly, but its lack of built-in safety features means that riders operating them are vulnerable to serious injuries, even when riding below their maximum speed.
Riding an e-scooter can be fatal. According to a road safety report conducted by the University of North Carolina, as of March 2021, at least 53 e-scooter riders have been killed in accidents over just the last few years. Many of these needless deaths are the result of hit and run accidents. This may be due to the low visibility of e-scooter riders combined with the device’s noiseless electric motor. Many drivers simply cannot see or hear a nearby e-scooter in time. Additionally, they may not be able to accurately gauge the speed at which an e-scooter travels, causing them to collide with its unprotected rider.
In the United States, injuries caused by e-scooter accidents have risen 222% in just a few short years. Nearly 40,000 injuries related to e-scooters were treated in emergency rooms between the 2014-2018, with incidences of injuries more than doubling throughout that surveyed period. Hospital admissions of injured e-scooter riders between the ages of 18-34 increased by 354% over the four years studied.
Nearly one third of recent e-scooter injuries involved trauma to the head. This means that e-scooter accidents can cause serious injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
In Public Health Ontario’s report on e-scooter injuries, using data from several American jurisdictions, it cites that injuries resulting from e-scooter accidents include:
- Head injuries
- Dental injuries
- Internal organ damage
- And more
E-scooters pose threats to the physical safety of the person operating the device. However, they can also be dangerous for pedestrians who come into contact with e-scooters. According to a January 2021 study conducted by German Insurers Accident Researchers, e-scooter riders are 400% more likely than bicyclists to injure other people with whom they come into contact on sidewalks.
Furthermore, when e-scooter rideshare services begin rolling out across the province, users may be required to agree to its terms and conditions of use. The two largest e-scooter rideshare companies in the United States require its users to relieve them of liability in the event of accidents in which another person is harmed. By hastily agreeing to these terms, e-scooter riders agree to take responsibility for damage they cause to other people or property. Without third party liability insurance included in the rideshare company’s terms of service, e-scooter riders may be responsible for paying large financial settlements if the device they are riding accidentally injures another person.
How Can I Sue for Damages if I Was Injured in an E-Scooter Accident?
Similar to cyclists and pedestrians, e-scooter riders are particularly vulnerable to collisions with other motor vehicles, particularly hit and run accidents. Traveling at relatively high speeds alongside passenger vehicle traffic with only the protection of a helmet puts e-scooter riders in precarious situations. E-scooter riders can sustain serious injuries if they are involved in a collision with distracted, impaired, or otherwise negligent motor vehicle operators.
If you were injured in an e-scooter accident caused by the negligence of another vehicle driver, with the assistance of an Ontario lawyer, you may be able to pursue legal action by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party. By doing so, a lawyer may be able to help you recover costs for the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Ongoing medical care/in-home care
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Adjusted living expenses
- Pain and suffering
- And possibly more
Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers Today
If you were injured in an e-scooter accident, you may be eligible to recover financial compensation. To discuss the circumstances of the accident and learn if you are eligible to pursue damages, contact us today.
For a free, initial consultation, call Preszler Injury Lawyers today at 1-800-JUSTICE.