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E-scooters have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially in urban areas as a convenient and eco-friendly mode of transportation. However, as the number of e-scooter riders increases, so too does the number of accidents involving e-scooters. This rise in accidents raises important questions about liability and who is responsible for any damages or injuries that may occur.

In California, e-scooters are considered “motorized scooters” under state law and are subject to the same rules and regulations as other motorized vehicles (California Vehicle Code §406(a)). This means that e-scooter riders must follow the same traffic laws as bicyclists. They are required to have a valid driver’s license. However, e-scooters are not required to be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and do not need to be insured.

Liability for e-scooter accidents

When an e-scooter accident occurs, determining liability can be complex. The following are some of the factors that may be considered in determining liability:

  • Negligence: If the e-scooter rider is found to be negligent (i.e. not exercising reasonable care) in causing the accident, they may be held liable for any damages or injuries that result. For example, if an e-scooter rider is texting while riding or talking on their cell phone and they cause an accident, they may be found to be negligent. You can read more about distracted vehicle drivers on this informational page.
  • Defective e-scooters: In some cases, the e-scooter itself may be defective and the manufacturer or rental company may be held liable for any damages or injuries that result. For example, if a rental e-scooter has faulty brakes and causes an accident, the rental company may be liable.
  • Road conditions: If the accident is caused by poor road conditions (such as potholes or debris), the government entity responsible for maintaining the roads may be liable.

It’s important to note that in California, a person who rents an e-scooter is liable for any damages or injuries caused by their negligence while operating the e-scooter. (California Civil Code §1714.4)

Insurance for e-scooter accidents

As mentioned earlier, e-scooters are not required to be insured in California. This means that if an e-scooter rider is involved in an accident, they may be personally liable for any damages or injuries that result. This can be a significant financial burden, especially if the rider is found to be negligent.

It’s also worth noting that many e-scooter rental companies do not offer insurance to riders. However, some companies do offer optional insurance at an additional cost. This insurance typically covers damages to the e-scooter and third-party liability (i.e. damages or injuries to others).

Conclusion

As the popularity of e-scooters continues to grow, so too does the potential for accidents. Determining liability in e-scooter accidents can be complex. The lack of insurance requirements in California means that e-scooter riders may be personally liable for any damages or injuries that result. It’s important for e-scooter riders to be aware of the risks and to exercise reasonable care while riding. It’s also worth considering purchasing insurance when renting an e-scooter to protect against potential financial liability.