What Happens if I Get Hit By a Car on an E-Scooter in DC?

By Peter DePaolis

Over the last few years, tens of thousands of dockless electric scooters have poured into Washington, D.C. from seven different companies: Bird, Lime, Spin, Lyft, Skip, Jump and Bolt. Three additional companies (Hopr, Razor and Ridecell) have received conditional approval to start operating in the city in 2019.

E-scooters can be a convenient and cost-effective way to get around town for residents, tourists and commuters. However, the increase in e-scooters on D.C.’s roads has also led to an upswing in related car accidents and e-scooter injuries. One study based in Austin, Texas reported 271 injuries in the city over 3.5 months. If a vehicle strikes you while riding an e-scooter in D.C, find out whether you have the right to file an injury claim against the at-fault party. Your injuries could qualify you for compensation.

Were You Obeying D.C.’s E-Scooter Laws?

Controlling the thousands of people who use e-scooters in D.C. daily has been a challenge for lawmakers. The district has enacted several laws specifically targeting electric scooters since the start of rentable scooters in the city. For example, scooter operators must be 16 or older, and they must have valid driver’s licenses. If you were breaking a scooter law at the time of your collision, this could negatively impact your claim.

  • No riding on the sidewalk in the Central Business District
  • Can ride in the street and bicycle lanes
  • Scooter riders in the road must ride with the flow of traffic and obey speed limits
  • E-scooter riders must obey all traffic rules, signs and regulations
  • Scooter riders do not need to wear helmets

For the most part, e-scooter users have the same rights and responsibilities as other roadway users. They must stop at red lights, yield the right-of-way to others and operate their vehicles prudently. Breaking the law or operating an e-scooter negligently could hurt your chances of securing compensation. Under Washington D.C.’s contributory negligence laws, if the courts find you responsible for causing your e-scooter collision, you could receive a smaller compensation award. If you were more than 50% at fault, you may not recover anything at all.

Can You Prove the Driver’s Negligence?

Driver error causes many collisions in D.C. through texting and driving, drowsy driving, speeding, aggressive driving, drunk driving and other acts of negligence. To qualify for compensation through an insurance claim or car accident lawsuit after an e-scooter collision, you or your attorney will need to prove the other driver’s negligence, as well as other elements of a case.

  1. The driver owed you a duty of care. E-scooter riders have the right to ride in the road. Drivers in D.C. must respect your right to the road and obey their duties to reasonably prevent accidents.
  2. The driver broke a duty of care. The driver must have committed an act (or failed to do something) that qualified as a breach of duty of care.
  3. The breached duty caused your e-scooter accident. Your lawyer must establish a direct connection between the driver’s actions and your e-scooter accident.
  4. You suffered damages in the collision. You must have sustained specific and measurable losses in the e-scooter accident, such as medical bills, personal pain and suffering, or lost wages.

If the other driver did not cause your collision, the defendant in your case could be a different party, such as the e-scooter company, a part manufacturer or the city government for an unsafe roadway. Regardless of the identity of the defendant, the four elements of proof needed to have grounds for a claim remain the same.

Do You Have a Claim?

If you have the elements to bring a personal injury claim against the driver that struck you while riding an e-scooter, you must file your lawsuit within three years of the date of your accident in Washington, D.C. A successful insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver could result in compensation for your related damages. The driver’s insurance company could be financially responsible for your health care costs, lost income, disability expenses, chronic pain, lost capacity to earn, wrongful death damages and other losses.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.