Electric scooter accidents are hurting more people every year. Scooter-related injuries have increased by 222% from 4,582 in 2014 to 14,651 in 2018. Electric scooter users hit by cars need to know their legal rights to get medical bills and lost wages paid and how they can receive pain and suffering compensation.
As electric scooters continue to grow in popularity, we’re unfortunately also going to continue seeing more people being injured in electric scooter accidents in Michigan. This blog will review the law and how electric scooter riders hit by cars can still collect No-Fault benefits and be able to sue for their injuries. We will also review the new laws passed In 2018 when Michigan lawmakers enacted “Electric Scooter Laws.”
Injury statistics involving electric scooter accidents
There has been a big increase in electric scooter accidents and injuries:
- Scooter-related injuries increased by 222% from 4,582 in 2014 to 14,651 in 2018
- Scooter-related hospital admissions increased by 365% from 313 in 2014 to 1,374 in 2018
- One third of people who are injured on electric scooters suffer head trauma (this is twice the number of head injuries of bicyclists)
- In 2018, people between 18 and 34 years of age had the most electric scooter injuries
- The most common injuries resulting from these types of accidents were fractures (31.7%), head injuries (40.2%), and contusions, sprains, and lacerations (27.7%)
- It is estimated that there have been more than a dozen deaths resulting from these types of accidents
(Sources: “Electric Scooter Injuries and Hospital Admissions in the United States 2014-2018,” JAMA Surgery, January 2020; “Injuries Associated With Standing Electric Scooter Use,” JAMA Network Open, January 2019; USA Today)
What is an electric scooter?
Under Michigan law, an electric scooter is considered to be a form of an “electric skateboard,” which is defined as “a wheeled device that has a floorboard designed to be stood upon when riding that is no more than 60 inches long and 18 inches wide, is designed to transport only 1 person at a time, has an electrical propulsion system with power of no more than 2,500 watts, and has a maximum speed on a paved level surface of not more than 25 miles per hour.” (MCL 257.13f) It may also have handlebars.
Electric scooter accidents in Michigan involving cars
Of course, a person could be injured in an accident in any number of ways that do not involve a car. They could hit a bump in the sidewalk, lose their balance, strike another scooter rider, a pedestrian or run into a tree. But with the explosion of electric scooter popularity and rental scooters in downtowns and on college campuses, motor vehicle crashes involving a vehicle and a scooter are still the most common cause of these types of accidents.
When an electric scooter accident in Michigan involves a car, then the scooter rider will have certain legal rights that would not be triggered by other non-vehicle-related accidents. (MCL 500.3105(1))
Types of injuries
Electric scooter accidents involving a car or truck can result in serious, life-altering injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Injuries to internal organs
- Bone fractures
Who pays medical bills after an electric scooter accident in Michigan?
People who have been injured in electric scooter accidents in Michigan involving a car or truck will receive No-Fault PIP medical benefits to cover accident-related medical bills from a No-Fault auto insurance company. (MCL 500.3105(1))
The auto No-Fault law’s “priority” rules determine which auto insurance company will handle the injured person’s claim. An injured person will file his or her claim for No-Fault PIP medical benefits as follows:
- First – The injured person will file a claim under his or her own No-Fault auto insurance policy in which he or she is the “named insured.” (MCL 500.3114(1))
- Second – The injured person will file a claim under his or her spouse’s auto insurance policy (in which the spouse is a named insured). (MCL 500.3114(1))
- Third – The injured person will file a claim under the auto insurance policy of a relative who lives in the same household (in which the relative is the named insured). (MCL 500.3114(1))
- Fourth – If no No-Fault coverage is available from any of the sources above, then the injured person will file a claim for benefits with the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan, which will assign an insurance company to handle the claim. (MCL 500.3115)
Importantly, the injured electric scooter user’s No-Fault PIP medical benefits will be subject to the following limitations:
- The coverage level selected in the auto insurance policy through which the injured person is claiming benefits. (MCL 500.3107c(5))
- The $250,000 cap on No-Fault PIP medical benefits through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan. (MCL 500.3172(7)(a))
Significantly, if an injured person’s medical bills exceed the applicable No-Fault PIP medical benefits coverage level, then he or she may file a third-party tort lawsuit against the at-fault driver for both past and future “excess” medical benefits. (MCL 500.3135(3)(c))
Who pays for lost wages after?
When a person suffers injuries in an electric scooter accident in Michigan involving a car or truck that disabled him or her from returning to work, then the injured person can file a No-Fault claim with the responsible auto insurance company to be reimbursed for lost wages. (See MCL 500.3105(1) and 500.3107(1)(b))
The same “priority” rules that apply to claims for No-Fault coverage of medical bills apply to claims for No-Fault lost wages benefits.
Significantly, if an injured person’s lost wages exceed the monthly maximum and/or three-year limitation imposed by the No-Fault law, then he or she may file a third-party tort lawsuit against the at-fault driver for both past and future “excess” lost wages. (MCL 500.3135(3)(c))
Can I sue for pain and suffering and economic damages?
A person who has been injured in an electric scooter accident in Michigan involving a car or truck can sue the at-fault driver of the car or truck for pain and suffering compensation, which is also referred to as “noneconomic loss” damages. (MCL 500.3135(1) and (3)(b))
However, in order to be able to recover, the injured electric scooter user must show that he or she has suffered a “serious impairment of body function.” (MCL 500.3135(1) and (3)(b))
Will I receive No-Fault benefits if I’m at-fault?
If a person is injured in an electric scooter accident in Michigan involving a car or truck, then he or she is entitled to receive No-Fault benefits to cover accident-related medical bills and lost wages “without regard to fault,” (MCL 500.3105(2))
This means the person injured in the accident can receive No-fault benefits regardless of whether the injured scooter user was at-fault in causing or contributing to the accident.
However, if you are filing a lawsuit for your injuries and claiming pain and suffering compensation as part of this lawsuit, then you will only be able to collect compensation if you are 50% or less at-fault. (MCL 500.3135(2)(b))
This is important in light of research showing that “scooter-related injuries are highly associated with lack of protective devices and that many injuries occur in the context of alcohol and/or illicit drug use.” (See “Traumatic Injuries Associated With Standing Motorized Scooters” study, JAMA Network Open, March 2020)
As an attorney who has now represented many electric scooter riders, one other important piece of advice. It is common even in very clear liability cases where fault seems to be clear and undisputed for an insurance defense lawyer, who is representing the at-fault driver of the vehicle, to try to also blame the injury victim. Jury selection and voir dire is especially important in these types of injury cases as there seems to be a number of potential jurors who will find some fault or cast some blame for someone riding an electric scooter, which they believe is inherently dangerous.
My experience has been that in this respect these electrics scooter accident cases are similar to motorcycle and bicycle cases where there is a percentage of the jury pool that just doesn’t like people riding these scooters. This means that personal injury lawyers who represent injured scooter riders need to do a more extensive work up on proving negligence and liability, even when fault initially seems clear, and significant effort should be made early on in jury selection so that injured scooter riders can receive a full and fair settlement or verdict.
Need help? Call Michigan Auto Law first
If you have been injured in an electric scooter accident in Michigan and would like to speak to an experienced injury attorney, call toll free anytime 24/7 at (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You can also get help from an experienced accident attorney by emailing [email protected] or you can use the chat feature on our website.