Look out Chicago! It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a skateboard.. No…. It’s just your new, dockless, electric scooters! As Chicago strives for a smaller carbon footprint, the time has finally come for 2,500 scooters to be rolled out along the streets of Chicago. Efficient, edgy, fast and reliable. All words that have been used to describe the new scooters embarking our streets. This pilot program covers an area confined to west of Halsted Street, north to Irving Park Road and east of Harlem Avenue. Chicagoans alike will be able to experience these electric scooters from June 15 through October 15. Useful? Sure. But what happens in the event of an accident? Who is responsible? Are there any laws protecting people, places or property?
E-scooters, such as the ones that have been rolled out, bear little to no responsibility for injuries that occur. Attorney Bryant Greening, co-founder of the law firm Legal Rideshare says, “[t]he terms of service for the scooter companies that are coming to Chicago specifically say that they bear no responsibility for injuries.” He went on to say, “the scooter company is going to put their hands up in the air and say, ‘it’s not our fault.’” Lauren Victory, Shared E-Scooter Program Brings New Transportation Option; New Physical And Financial Risks, CBS Chicago (June 3, 2019). So there begs the question, what do I do if I get hurt, or hit someone or something? It’s simple, if you have insurance you will need to put it to use. Despite the city requiring scooter vendors to have the highest general liability policies, Greening mentioned “shared electric scooter programs are so new, a lot of the legal issues haven’t been sorted out by the courts yet.” Id.
Currently, there is no Illinois Code or state statute regulating the use of E-scooters. While the City of Chicago has regulated the current pilot program, law makers around the state of Illinois are hustling to pass a bill modifying the use of E-scooters to make them safer. Specifically, House Bill 1590 (HB1590) is making its way around the Illinois House. HB1590 is currently proposing that a person may not operate a low-speed electric scooter without a driver’s license, instruction permit, or State identification card and unless he or she is sixteen (16) years of age or older. This bill also limits where the E-scooters can operate, constricting their movements to bicycle lanes, bicycle paths and will give E-scooterist all rights subject to the duties applicable to the rider of a bicycle.
So, while riding an E-scooter is efficient, convenient and readily available, injuries and a cause for concern come with the two wheeled machines. It is best to follow the instructions, take safety precautions, and avoid dangerous or unfit roads. Despite the lack of experience with scooters, the vehicles are a fun way to navigate the street. But, with the great power of convenience comes with great responsibility and awareness of others on the streets.
In conclusion, E-scooters are here and will continue to roam the streets throughout at least October of 2019. While the laws are limited and confined to rules put in place by the city, issues concerning the future uses of the E-scooter will mostly tackled by law makers sometime this year. So, enjoy them, but be cautious. If you end up suffering an injury requiring medical treatment, it is important to contact an attorney so you don’t end up being the one paying for the damages. To ensure you are not on the hook for damages, costs and expenses related to injuries, contact the skilled personal injury attorney at Sherwood Law Group at 312-627-1650 for a free consultation and case review.