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e-Scooters may cause significant injuries, including brain trauma

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the city of Austin's public health department found that e-scooter injuries are common, even among first-time users, and can be serious. Some of this may be due to lack of helmet use among e-Scooter riders. In many cases, riders suspect the e-Scooter malfunctioned. It may also be due to rider inexperience.

Now that e-scooters have made their way to Atlanta, Nashville, and even Chattanooga, we thought we would share some of the findings in an effort to warn potential users of the serious risks.

In the Austin study, researchers contacted 190 people known to have been injured, or who had probably been injured, while riding e-scooters between September and November of last year:

  • Almost half of the riders had suffered a severe injury
  • 48% suffered head injuries
  • 15% had evidence "suggestive of a brain injury" such as a concussion or a subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Other injuries included fractures, severe bleeding and organ damage

Interviews with 125 riders provided insight into the crashes themselves:

  • Less than 1% of the riders had been wearing a helmet
  • 33% were first-time riders when they were injured
  • 33% were injured while riding on the sidewalk, which is prohibited by the e-scooter companies' terms of service
  • 10% of riders collided with another vehicle
  • 10% of accidents involved a curb
  • Nearly 20% of riders thought their e-scooter had malfunctioned

The Austin Public Health Department concluded that the city should keep track of injuries associated with e-scooters and other new models of public transportation. Also, it proposed increasing educational messages about how to use e-scooters safely.

In February, Consumer Reports published a separate investigation, finding that at least 1,500 people in the U.S. had been injured riding e-scooters since 2017, when they were first introduced. There have also been four deaths reported. That number is now higher. Just last week, a man was killed while using a scooter in downtown Nashville.

Police believe the man on the scooter improperly turned left into the roadway from the sidewalk and into the path of an oncoming SUV.

Lime company says the study could help improve micromobility safety

Lime, one of the major suppliers of e-scooters to cities, expressed its gratitude for the information in the Austin study and said it looks forward to working with regulators and the medical community to increase safety among pedestrians, bikers and people who use micromobility devices such as e-scooters.

"If we want to help people move around their communities efficiently and equitably, we need to ensure options besides cars are trusted as safe and reliable," said a spokesperson for Lime. "We are committed to understanding why incidents occur, how to enhance street designs, educating riders and drivers, and working together to create fundamental and lasting change."

If you plan to try an e-scooter, be careful. Bring your own helmet, as helmets are not provided with the e-scooters even though they are recommended by the manufacturers. Read and follow the safety instructions, including riding on the street, not the sidewalk.

If you are injured, and if you suspect it was due to an e-scooter malfunction, do what you can to identify the specific e-scooter involved. Take down a serial number, the name of the company from whom you rented it, and the name of the scooter manufacturer. If possible take pictures. While your injury may be caused by a defective product, other factors may cause or contribute to your injury including a negligent vehicle driver, a poorly designed sidewalk, negligent pedestrians, or even your own actions. In any case, discuss your situation with an experienced personal injury attorney. They can help you evaluate whether you should seek compensation.

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