Scooter victims turning to personal injury attorneys

Posted at 6:22 PM, Aug 23, 2018

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - As San Diego doctors sound the alarm on potential dangers of motorized scooters, some victims are now turning to personal injury lawyers.

A woman walking downtown was recently hit by a scooter and left with $3,000 in medical bills.

Unfortunately, a personal injury attorney tells 10News in cases like this, victims will likely be on their own.

RELATED: Mother, daughter seriously injured in scooter crash

"The scooter operator is responsible for your injuries. Now, does that mean you’re going to be compensated for them? Probably not," said Mike Bomberger with Estey & Bomberger. "Most scooter operators don't have insurance to cover them for the operation of the scooter."

While scooter riders must have a driver's license, they are not required to have insurance. Bomberger says it's also unlikely the scooter companies would be held liable in accidents.

RELATED: Electric scooter rider injured in crash, cited for DUI

“The waivers and disclaimers you sign are very, very detailed in favor of the company, almost under no circumstance can you go after company unless there’s a malfunction of the scooter itself," said Bomberger.

While attorneys are advertising they can help scooter victims, Bomberger believes compensation will be few and far between.

“We’ve gotten 10-12 calls and have only taken one case; they were hit by a car," said Bomberger.

RELATED: Police crack down on scooter riders without helmets

Downtown resident Jonathan Freeman has been a staunch opponent of scooters coming to San Diego. His dog was hit and he's had close calls himself.

“I have elderly neighbors; they tell me they don’t want to walk. If they’re hit by a scooter and break their hip, it’s a death sentence," said Freeman.

He's called on the city to do more to hold people accountable for riding illegally on sidewalks and the promenade downtown.

RELATED: Local emergency rooms report 'daily visits' for scooter injuries

Dr. Jeff Sugar, an urgent care doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, says they've seen a range of injuries from head lacerations and sprains to contusions and fractures. He says urgent care departments report daily visits by patients injured using electric scooters and rental bikes.

Michael Sise, M.D., trauma surgeon and chief of staff of Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego, said this:

“At Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego, we definitely have seen an increase in injuries from riding motorized scooters. Most of those injuries occur within the first hours after people rent these vehicles. These scooters are incredibly dangerous. People are riding them in and out of traffic. Most riders aren’t wearing helmets or other protection, even though that’s required. And when someone flies off one of these scooters, they’re often launched head first.”

Until action is taken to require scooter operators to be insured, people hit will likely have to fend for themselves.