In the past year, electric Bird scooters have invaded the streets of Downtown Raleigh and other cities throughout North Carolina, a fact that has some residents rejoicing and others complaining. Though electric scooters are undoubtedly popular, The News & Observer report that they have led to a few safety concerns and complaints. One of the greatest concerns is liability in electric scooter accidents.
The Bird Scooters are dockless scooters that users can leave in any public space after use. To unlock the scooters from their initial docking station, users must simply use their smartphones and login to the Bird company’s app. The company charges the user’s card $1 to unlock the scooter and an additional 15 cents per minute after that. The scooters can achieve speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. Attendants pick up the scooters at night for redocking and to charge the user’s account.
Though convenient, the question of liability remains, which CBS17.com explores in brief. If an automobile strikes a pedestrian in North Carolina, the North Carolina Department of Insurance mandates that the person’s car insurance policy cover the cost of damages. However, there is no such policy in place for the victims of electric scooter accidents.
As of right now, North Carolina law does not contain any definition that defines an electric scooter. The state also does not have any laws in place that cover electric scooters or that protect riders. Moreover, there is no insurance policy that covers the damages one might sustain in an electric scooter accident. The only way a rider can ride with peace of mind is if he or she invests in an umbrella policy. However, according to the report, most people are unaware of the insurance issues electric Bird scooters create. Most are also unaware that umbrella policies exist.
At the date of the report, the City of Raleigh was in the process of drafting policies and regulations for electronic scooters.