California Legalizes Riding E-Scooters Without a Helmet, and First Fatal E-Scooter Accident Occurs Shortly Thereafter

Two trends that are shaking up transportation in California and across the country are the push toward self-driving cars and the rise of e-scooters. At Ledger Law, we have covered the latest legal news in the self-driving sector extensively, but the e-scooter trend is one well worth paying attention to in the area of personal injury law.

Bird, an electric scooter startup, raised $400 million in mere months during 2018, and leading rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber are also now involved in the e-scooter sector. Uber teamed up with Lime (whose scooters are already based in many US and European cities) to add electric scooters to its line of transportation options for customers. Lyft, for its part, rolled out its first electric scooters in Denver, aiming to catch up to a market that The Verge reports is “flush with billion-dollar startups“.

Given the significant capital already invested in this sector, electric scooters appear poised to become a major player if Silicon Valley has anything to say about it. However, the next big thing in transportation also means that lawmakers and personal injury lawyers alike must pay attention to these newly developing transportation trends.

California, for its part, has already passed legislation that quickly turned controversial.

California Legalizes Riding Electric Scooters Sans Helmet

If you want to ride an electric scooter in California, it is legally allowed to do so without wearing a helmet. In September of 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that says only minor riders under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet. For the most part, this requirement has no effect since most of the scooter companies like Bird already prohibit riders under 18 from using the service.

The new legislation updates statewide rules amid the rush from cities like San Francisco who were trying to regulate electric scooter transportation since the rapid growth took place during 2018. Now that the state law has changed, it will be interesting to see how cities like San Francisco react to these legislative changes.

The legislation also appears to pave the path to roads with more electric scooters since the legislation also provides that:

  • Riders can use roads with speed limits up to 35 miles per hour
  • Additionally, scooter riders can also travel in the bike lane on roads with higher speed limits
  • The new law also got rid of a previous bill’s requirement that a driver’s license would be required for scooter use

In light of these broad changes, the lack of a helmet requirement is arguably the biggest consideration for safety purposes, particularly since a Dallas man suffered the first fatal e-scooter accident just days after riding without a helmet was made legal in California.

These changes pose interesting questions regarding legal compensation for accident victims, such as whether the lack of a helmet will affect the compensation an e-scooter accident victim could receive (even though helmets are no longer legal requirements).

The Ledger Law Firm will continue monitoring this rapidly growing mode of transportation in California to best represent scooter accident victims in California. If you or a loved one was injured in a California electric scooter accident, contact us online for a free case evaluation to discuss your right to compensation with an e-scooter accident lawyer in California.

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