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Multiple Factors Blamed in 5-Year-Old’s Death on E-Scooter

Posted on September 9, 2019

Charles Brian Alred - E Scooter Attorney

A fatal scooter accident that killed a 5-year-old Tulsa, OK boy has raised many legal questions regarding liability due to the numerous factors that may have contributed to his death. A September 4, 2019 article in Tulsa World outlined the details of the incident, which involved an electric scooter ridesharing service that has become popular throughout the US. The operator of the e-scooter swerved to avoid a car, tossing the boy from the vehicle and into oncoming traffic.

Bird, Lime, and other e-scooter providers offer a convenient, cost-effective way for people to get around town without the hassles of traffic and parking a vehicle. However, recent accidents involving scooters have led to controversy about their safety. The units are two-wheeled and smaller than other vehicles on the road. Plus, many operators do not have experience handling them and are not familiar with the applicable traffic laws.

Charles Bryan Alred, founding partner at Charles Bryan Alred, PC in Tulsa, OK, mentioned that his office had seen an increase in the number of personal injury claims related to e-scooters. “There are numerous risk factors involved, especially considering the void of regulations by authorities and lax rules of e-scooter companies. Where there are laws regarding operation, users may not be familiar with them. And riders don’t realize how vulnerable they are to accidents.”

In the Tulsa e-scooter accident, the boy’s mother was operating the vehicle in the opposite direction of traffic while carrying him as a passenger. Scooter companies prohibit users from transporting additional riders on these vehicles, which are meant for one operator. Another factor that contributed to the fatal crash is that neither the boy nor his mother was wearing a helmet. Bird, Lime, and many other e-scooter services require proper headgear.

Mr. Alred pointed out that there are complicated legal issues regarding liability in the e-scooter accident. “The e-scooter company obviously failed by enforcing their own rules on the helmet and number of passengers. It’s possible that the driver of the car that hit the boy was also negligent. However, it’s important to understand the application of the rule on contributory negligence.”

In Oklahoma, contributory negligence affects recovery of compensation where a claimant is partly at fault in causing his or her own injuries. When the injured victim’s actions were a factor in the accident, the amount of monetary damages is reduced proportionally to how much that person contributed to the crash.