Everything to Know About Atlanta Scooter Accidents

Key points

  • Although e-scooters make it easy for people to navigate around the city, driving them does not come without risk.
  • In Georgia, scooter riders are not required to carry liability insurance, so a scooter accident could mean you must pay if you are at fault.
  • Scooter rental companies must carry liability insurance to cover expenses for accidents caused by manufacturer or product defects.
  • If you’ve been injured in an e-scooter accident, consulting with a lawyer can help you understand how to best handle your claim.                   

Atlanta Is Becoming a Popular Place to Ride Motor Scooters

Young woman suffering from elbow pain after e-scooter riding accident
Young woman suffering from elbow pain after e-scooter riding accident on a city street

Throughout Atlanta, electric scooters, also known as e-scooters or dockless scooters, are now available for locals and visitors to use for transportation through rent-sharing programs.

These companies operate similarly to relay bikes and other ride-sharing programs. Users begin by downloading a smartphone app from an e-scooter sharing company. The app allows users to locate and unlock a nearby e-scooter for a nominal fee. The app then charges a per-mile or per-minute fee for driving the e-scooter to a destination. Once the trip is completed, the user parks the e-scooter anywhere local ordinances permit.

These scooters make it easy for people to navigate around the busy city without the need to pay the high cost of gas, locate parking, or combat traffic on the major roads. But renting these scooters does not come without risk. Here’s what you should know if you use or plan to use these scooters for transportation.

Why Dockless Motor Scooter Accidents in Atlanta Are Dangerous

While there are plenty of benefits of using smaller means of transportation to get around the city, there are also many dangers. Even though these scooters travel at relatively slow speeds – typically no more than 20 mph – they can still be involved in serious accidents.

Although Atlanta is working to provide bike lanes for safety, in many places, scooters must still share the busy streets with cars and trucks. And unlike these larger vehicles, dockless scooters offer no physical protection for the rider in the event of an accident.

Even if you are wearing a helmet, which is not required unless you are under 16 years of age, most of your body is completely unprotected from injury. Life-changing accidents can happen in the blink of an eye.

How Liability Insurance Coverage Works with Dockless Scooter Rentals

If your scooter is hit by another vehicle, law enforcement officers will treat the accident as they would any other motor vehicle accident. The responding officers will determine who was at fault, and the driver whose actions caused the accident will be liable for damages and injuries. If the driver who hit you wishes to contest those damages, you may want to engage a lawyer to help you collect for related expenses.

The state of Georgia does not yet require liability insurance for dockless scooter riders because they travel at such slow speeds. This means insurance coverage for these vehicles typically falls upon the rider. And because the scooter has only two wheels, your auto insurance will likely not apply to a scooter accident and won’t pay for damages you cause. If you are injured, you may need to count on your health insurance for the initial payment of medical treatment costs. 

Rideshare companies are insured against liabilities if a rider gets into an accident on one of their vehicles. The individual rider, however, is not usually covered under their policies and would be personally responsible for their own medical expenses as well as damages done to additional vehicles or injuries to other parties if found at fault. Therefore, it’s a good idea to know and follow the scooter laws before you ride one in busy places.

In a July 2022 Wall Street Journal article, Michael Barry, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, cautioned would-be scooter users. As he explained, “Before either renting or buying a scooter, talk to your insurance professional about whether you’re covered in an accident that you cause,” so you can be aware of your risks and potential coverage.

A List of Companies Who Rent Out Scooters in Atlanta

At present, Bird, Lime, and Spin are permitted to rent dockless scooters and/or relay-bikes in Atlanta. Other companies may join this list of vendors as time passes.

Is it Possible to Obtain a Settlement From a Dockless Scooter Company or Their Insurance?

Georgia law expects that the dockless scooter you rent will work properly and that you can depend upon it to work appropriately. For this reason, the scooter company is required to carry liability insurance. This coverage protects them in case their product malfunctions and causes riders to be injured.

But, if you cannot prove the scooter was defective in a way that caused your accident and injuries, you will probably not have a good outcome if you attempt legal action. In other words, if the company did not harm you, you cannot expect them to compensate you.

How Settlements Work When Scooters Get Hit by Cars

Dockless scooter accident settlements work much like the average car accident. The responding officer will determine which driver was at fault. Once the fault is determined, the claim will go through the typical process where insurance adjusters and/or lawyers negotiate a settlement.

If you are unsure of your negotiation skills or the laws around your accident, you may want to retain a lawyer who can navigate the settlement for you. Most lawyers offer a free initial consultation to help you understand your circumstances. In addition, many personal injury lawyers, like The Millar Law Firm, do not charge you unless you win your case.

For more information about dockless scooters in Downtown Atlanta, visit the Atlanta Department of Transportation.

- D. Lo
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