RALEIGH – Those daredevils racing scooters in and out of traffic around Downtown Raleigh may be tempting fate – insurance, liability and injury – with every zippy move. An attorney in Raleigh has some advice before you, too, decide to join in the latest ride-sharing rage.
In fact, questions about regulating the scooters from companies Bird and Lime are expected to be debated by the City of Raleigh at a council meeting Tuesday night. [Note: Scooters win approval in Durham, so this is much more than a Raleigh issue.]
And WRAL reported on Monday just how often scooters have been involved in accidents: 22 since July.
Hoyt Tessener, an attorney, The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, talks with WRAL TechWire about insurance, scooters, liability, and contributory negligence.
- Are people insured when they ride a scooter as they often are with auto insurance when they drive a vehicle they don’t own?
No. In fact, scooters are not adequately defined in the NC General Statutes. Mopeds and motorcycles require a rider and must be registered with the DMV. To be registered, you must show proof of liability insurance.
- If they aren’t insured and there is an accident, does the scooter provider provide insurance? Who pays the bills?
I have not seen any information to show that the scooter provider provides insurance. In fact, I believe the scooter has language that says you ride at your own risk.
If you are at fault, you pay the bills or your health insurance pays.
If you are not at fault, the at fault party would be responsible provided you are not contributorily negligent.
- How does contributory negligence apply? What makes NC law different as one of only a few (four in all) states in this aspect?
It appears as though most scooter operators follow no rules of the road. If the operators are not following the rules of the road and they are hit by someone else who violated the rules of the road, contributory negligence would bar recovery.
For example, suppose a scooter operator is on the sidewalk not the road thereby violating the rules that motor vehicles use the roads. As the scooter approaches an intersection, the light is red for traffic coming perpendicular. The light is green for traffic in the direction of the scooter but remember the scooter is not a pedestrian and is not on the road. The scooter crosses the road and the car runs the red light. The car driver is negligent for running the red light but is not liable since the scooter violated the rules of the road by not stopping at the red light.
In 46 other states that have abolished contributory negligence, the fact-finder (jury or judge), determines the percentage of fault and adjusts damages accordingly.
[The law firm further explains: In the other 46 states, if someone is negligent you can seek recovery typically under a liability policy. In NC, since we still use the law of contributory negligence, it is a different analysis. No matter if someone is negligent, in NC you must determine if the injured person was contributorily negligent. In essence, if the injured person contributed in any way to his/her injury, the injured person gets no recovery.
[Riding a motorized scooter with no helmet, earbuds, flip-flops, etc. invites contributory negligence.]
- Is scooter insurance offered as an option?
No. Scooter is not defined in the general statutes. The closest definition is a moped. However, a moped must be registered by the DMV and have liability insurance.
- What happens to you if you are hit by a scooter?
You have a claim against the operator but there is not going to be any liability insurance. You would have to pursue the scooter operator to pay.
- What about those bikes people can rent? What’s the insurance liability?
Bikes have no motors so there is no requirement of any type of liability insurance. If you hurt someone riding a bike, you (not your insurance) would be responsible. Contributory negligence still applies.
- How do ride providers Lyft and Uber fit in this insurance scenario as riders/passengers?
All autos in NC must carry liability insurance in the amount of $30,000 per person. In addition, if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, it will provide coverage to you.
- What happens if they are hurt in a crash?
Same as any other auto case. All states require liability insurance for motor vehicles. Uninsured, underinsured and umbrella policies owned by the insured can supplement.
In the other 46 states, if someone is negligent you can seek recovery typically under a liability policy. In NC, since we still use the law of contributory negligence, it is a different analysis. No matter if someone is negligent, in NC you must determine if the injured person was contributorily negligent. In essence, if the injured person contributed in any way to his/her injury, the injured person gets no recovery.
Riding a motorized scooter with no helmet, earbuds, flip-flops, etc. invites contributory negligence.