E-scooter companies are defending themselves against a mounting number of personal injury complaints. But while most of these cases are brought by injured riders, there is a growing body of litigation brought by people who have been struck and seriously injured by the mobile devices as well.
That’s what happened to Allyson Medeiros, a 32-year-old tattoo artist from Chicago who was riding his bike home from work in June. As he was traveling in the bike lane in a residential block, he suddenly noticed someone on an e-scooter speeding toward him, traveling against the flow of traffic.
The e-scooter ran into Mr. Medeiros, knocking him unconscious off his bike. The force of the collision and hitting the ground left him with deep lacerations, multiple broken bones in his face, permanent scarring, missing teeth, and a dangerous amount of air in his chest cavity, according to The Washington Post.
Mr. Medeiros has undergone several surgeries over the last month. Surgeons implanted metal plates in his face and wired his jaw shut and he continues to eat via syringe. Unable to work and uninsured, Mr. Medeiros’ life has been plunged into physical and financial hardship.
Aside from a GoFundMe fundraiser, Mr. Medeiros’ prospects for paying off his escalating debt are limited and complicated by the fact that his accident was a hit-and-run. The identity of the person who fled the scene and which of the 10 e-scooter brands available in Chicago was involved remain a mystery.
The good news is that e-scooter companies collect a lot of data from their devices and the people who rent them, including geo-tracking location, timestamps, and the user’s personal and payment information. Finding out who the hit-and-run e-scooter rider was could be a quick and simple process except that e-scooter companies are not cooperating with urgent requests Mr. Medeiros submitted to the e-scooter companies.
Those requests were quickly followed by a court petition, fearing the digital data collected by the e-scooter companies could expire and disappear. A petition puts the companies on notice that litigation is pending and it would be illegal for the existing data to vanish.
“This is a very sad situation in which a totally innocent person fell victim to a negligent rider and now a cowardly company is refusing to step forward,” Mr. Medeiros’ lawyer told The Washington Post.
Mr. Medeiros may not be alone in his legal plight against the e-scooter operators. Chicago launched an e-scooter pilot program just five days before his accident, and already there has been a multitude of e-scooter-related injuries and crimes – a pattern that has played out in whatever cities the mobile devices debut.
“The struggle to retrieve rider information from e-scooter companies after hit-and-run accidents has vexed victims ever since e-scooters began appearing around the country last summer,” The Washington Post reported. “The results of those efforts are mixed and often vary by location, and many victims claim that scooter companies refuse to return their calls or provide them with data that could be used to track down reckless riders.”
A spectrum of other scenarios involving e-scooter accidents can blur liability and compound the legal complications. What happens when underage riders swipe another person’s scooter or use their parents’ credit card info to rent a vehicle? What if the e-scooter is used in a crime, which was the case when a bank robber in Austin took off on one earlier this year?
In San Diego, a 75-year old man tripped on a Bird e-scooter someone had left outside the entrance of SDCCU Stadium, shattering his knee in four places and triggering a rapid decline in his health that ended with his death four months later, his family said.
In Los Angeles, a number of pedestrians injured by e-scooters joined a class-action lawsuit accusing the two largest e-scooter companies – Lime and Bird – of “gross negligence” and “aiding and abetting assault” for their refusal to cooperate with accident investigations conducted for legal purposes.
Mr. Medeiros’ lawyer says it shouldn’t be difficult to locate the scooter and driver that hit his client because there are about just 2,500 e-scooters in the Chicago area – about one-tenth the number in other cities, such as Los Angeles. All that is needed is the accountability and cooperation of e-scooter companies.