Electric Bikes And Scooters: Lawsuits Follow Growing Number Of Accidents

The skyrocketing popularity of electric scooters and bikes has come at a cost — a rising number of accidents where the injuries sustained are often severe or even fatal.

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found injuries from using e-bikes, e-scooters, and hoverboards jumped 70% from 2017 to 2020. In at least 71 cases, the injuries resulted in death. Accidents involving e-scooters saw a particularly notable spike, rising from 7,700 to 25,400 during the four-year span.

No end in sight for rise in e-scooter accidents

E-scooter accidents are now so common they top the rate of motorcycle accidents, according to a study of the national incidence rates by means of transportation. While e-scooters resulted in 115 injuries for every million trips, motorcycle injuries happened at a rate of 104 injuries per million. Car trips, in contrast, registered eight injuries per million car trips.

One of the study authors, Dr. Joann Elmore, professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), called the finding “startling” in an interview with New Atlas.

She continued, “The ease of public access to on-demand shareable scooters and safety regulations that are still in their infancy suggest that e-scooter operators, cities and health care providers will continue to see a significant number of injuries each year.”

E-bike injuries tend to be more severe

At the same time, e-bikes in the United States are more popular than ever, registering 804,000 bikes sold in 2021, up from 152,000 in 2016, according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association. With a top speed of 28 miles per hour (and faster when going downhill), “e-bikes are clearly associated with more serious injury,” Dr. Charles DiMaggio, a professor of surgery at New York University, told The New York Times.

DiMaggio recently authored a peer-reviewed study that found e-bike riders were more likely to require hospitalization than those using regular bikes. That finding is also echoed by emergency rooms like Orange County’s Providence Mission Hospital, which reported a 500% year-over-year increase in electric bike accidents. During the first eight months of 2021, the hospital treated 70 e-bike trauma patients, 22 of whom were children. The previous year, those figures were much lower with 11 e-bike trauma patients, including one child.

Lawsuit alleges brakes are ‘known safety hazard’

One of the fatal accidents that made national news involved 12-year-old Molly Steinsapir whose parents are now suing the maker of the e-bike that Molly used as she crashed while riding down Enchanted Way in Pacific Palisades. According to the lawsuit, Molly and her friend were going downhill and lost control of their RadRunner bikes when the bikes did not stop.

The suit, cited in the LA Times, alleges the machine’s “disc brakes” and “quick release” front-wheel mechanism are “a known safety hazard in the industry.” The lawsuit also suggests that the brake configuration on the RadRunner caused the e-bike to “wobble” and shake when Molly’s friend pulled on the front hand brake.

E-bike recall

In 2015, Trek Bicycle Corp. recalled 1 million bikes over a disc brakes issue that had left one rider paralyzed and two others injured.

Bike fails to slow down

Another lawsuit, filed in 2021 by Jennifer Fitzpatrick, a 57-year-old Coto de Caza resident, also claims her Rad e-bike failed to slow as she sped down a hill at the Resort at Pelican Hill in 2019. Fitzpatrick, who like Molly was wearing a helmet, was thrown from the bike and left concussed and briefly unconscious.

Lime and Bird sued over failure to maintain scooters

Two of the nation’s largest e-scooter companies have also faced lawsuits. In 2020, two separate complaints were filed in California against Lime and Bird on behalf of nearly 90 plaintiffs, alleging the ridesharing services failed to maintain their scooters. Among the issues, the suits pointed to malfunctioning brakes, sudden accelerations, and faulty throttles, handlebars and wheels as the cause of numerous incidents in which riders were thrown off the scooters and injured. Some plaintiffs were so badly hurt they had to undergo multiple surgeries and have yet to fully recover, the suit maintained.

In the wake of the rise in e-bike accidents, including an August 7 incident that killed a mother riding with her toddler daughter in Carlsbad, California, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill for an e-bike safety and education training program. The bill aims to create a statewide standard of understanding how to use an e-bike.

Do you need help?

Have you or a loved one been injured in an e-bike or scooter accident? We can help you receive the compensation that you deserve. The lawyers at Penney & Associates have decades of experience and are experts in wrongful death and personal injury law. Schedule a free consultation to learn more.

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