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Electric Scooter Accidents on the Rise in Atlanta

The first-ever CDC scooter study will  look at how scooter accidents can be prevented. The scooter study was launched in December when three CDC epidemiologists spent two weeks in Austin, TX reviewing incidents and scooter-related injuries during a 60-day period from September to November. They began contacting the 258 individuals identified through EMS calls or who visited emergency rooms with a scooter-related injury. Findings from this study will likely be released in March and could have far-reaching effects as cities such as Atlanta across the country grapple with reports of injuries from these e-scooters.

“We don’t know if there’s something unique about Austin or the population there that may be different from other parts of the United States or globally,” said the chief of the Atlanta-based CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service, which is conducting the probe. “The rate of scooter injuries in Austin may be consistent with what’s being noticed in other places, or it may be much higher.” In Atlanta, the number of injuries per month has increased from about 30 to about 100, said the chief of emergency medicine at Grady Health System, which includes Grady Memorial Hospital, the largest hospital in Georgia. Grady, which is among the nation’s busiest Level 1 trauma centers, is looking at the rise and scope of scooter injuries as a new internal project. “I’m concerned people are riding these things without helmets and on roads in busier traffic,” he said “As opposed to motorcycles, these wheels are pretty small. Certainly, hitting a pothole can send someone over.” This is a big distinction for a number of reasons, not only are the scooter wheels much smaller, the riders are not familiar with the scooters (as they would be with their own bicycle, scooter or motorcycle) which tends to lead to unsafe conditions. Couple this with questionable inspection and maintenance programs for some of the scooter companies and the rise in accidents is certain to continue.

We have seen a spike in the number of serious injuries on e-scooter such as Lime and Bird, especially on and around college campuses such as Emory, Georgia State University and Oglethorpe. Many students rely on these scooters as stop-gap transportation but fully appreciate the dangers associated with them.

These  colorful electric scooters are rented with a smartphone apps and dropped off almost anywhere, are hard to resist. The companies behind them – Bird, Bolt, Lime, Scoot, Skip and Spin, among others – promote them as smart, low-cost transportation alternatives for short distances, especially in cities. Neither Bird nor Lime responded to multiple interview requests. Interestingly, the major scooter companies have tried to hide behind liability waivers to shield themselves from liability. These types of exculpation clauses, are, however, in most cases prohibited in Georgia as you cannot waive negligence liability when confronted with negligence claims.

The Austin study will help develop a baseline for comparison. So far, what’s believed to be the first published study examining scooter injuries was released last month in JAMA Network Open, a peer-reviewed medical journal. UCLA researchers studied 249 patients (228 scooter riders and 21 pedestrians) treated at two emergency departments over a year’s time. Head injuries and fractures were the most common diagnosis. Among scooter riders, 80 percent were injured in a fall, 11 percent collided with an object, and almost 9 percent were hit by a moving vehicle or object. For almost 5 percent of patients, intoxication was a factor. Just 4 percent of riders wore a helmet. What we are seeing now, is that a lot of these falls are not due to rider error but rather from scooters that are not being kept up and maintained properly. Not only is the prevalence of faulty scooters accidents going up, the severity of these accidents tends to be much greater.

In addition to a great backlash from a lot of citizens who don’t appreciate these scooters being placed along the roads of many of the cities, cities themselves are trying to balance the electric scooter as a boost to mobility with ensuring the safety of riders who travel amid motorists and pedestrians. There are plenty of reports of pedestrians tripping or falling over parked scooters, as well as tales of being hit by moving scooters. There have even been  a number of scooter-related deaths in the past year alone.

This is a growing concern for the city of Atlanta, as well as the nearby cities of Brookhaven, Sandy Springs, Decatur and Johns Creek. I am sure more legislation will be passed to address this new risk to the city pedestrians as well as a continued rise in lawsuits based on the scooter companies failure to properly maintain the scooters in a safe condition.

For almost 25 years, Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, personal injury, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been injured or died as a result of the negligence of others in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area, including Alpharetta, Brookhaven, Chamblee, College Park, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you or someone you know has been seriously injured or died as a result of a scooter accident and would like quality legal representation or if you would just like to consult about a potential case, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.

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