E-Scooter Accidents Raise Questions About Liability
Tracy Jordan visits her daughter, Ashanti, every day.
“I love you baby,” Tracy tells her first born while holding her hand. “I want you to know mommy is here.”
Ashanti, 27, suffered a traumatic brain injury after colliding with a car on a Lime e-scooter last December. She has been unable to respond since then.
“Every time I start to go to a dark place, I think of her,” Tracy said. “I don’t want no one else to care for her besides me so that gives the push I need in order to stay strong.”
Her daughter was working as a security guard at Broward Health Medical Center when she rented a Lime e-scooter to get home from work. Soon after, she was rushed to the same hospital she had just left.
Ashanti hasn’t left since.
“It’s dangerous. It’s life threatening,” Tracy said.
Tracy says her daughter doesn’t have medical insurance and her medical expenses, so far, total more than a million dollars.
“These aren’t just toys,” said Dr. Jason Mansour from Broward Health Medical Center. “You could potentially get very seriously injured.”
Before any rider can get on a scooter, they have to agree to the company’s “user agreement,” which pops up in the smartphone app.
In Ashanti’s case, the agreement is more than 50 pages long.
“It’s terribly unfair to the consumer,” said Todd Falzone, a personal-injury attorney based in Fort Lauderdale.
“It’s (the agreement) going to be hundreds of screens-long on a cell phone to try to read and understand the terms and conditions,” Falzone said.
Falzone is representing Ashanti and her family in a lawsuit filed against Lime.
By signing the company’s user agreement, Ashanti agreed Lime “reserves the right to you (the rider) fully responsible for all damage, losses, claims and liability.”
Lime’s agreement also includes an arbitration clause, which means any dispute has to be resolved by an arbitrator as opposed to a judge or jury.
All companies have this type of user agreements and most include similar wording.
“I would venture to guess that almost no consumers fully understand what that means,” Falzone said.
Police say Ashanti was hit in an intersection when she ran a stop sign. But Falzone says Lime instructed her to ride in the street – where e-scooters are not allowed in Fort Lauderdale.
“She did what the app told her to do. She was in the road,” Falzone said.
Falzone showed the NBC 6 Investigators a screenshot of a diagram he says popped in the app on Ashanti’s smart phone – instructing her not to drive on the sidewalk “other than as permitted by law.”
“Shortly after, they (Lime) altered it and changed the app,” said Falzone.
The screen that now shows up in the Lime’s app instruct riders, who are renting an e-scooter in Fort Lauderdale, to use sidewalks only.
Figuring out where to ride an e-scooter can be confusing.
In Fort Lauderdale, they are only allowed on sidewalks. In Miami, they can be ridden on certain streets, sidewalks and bike lanes.
Tracy says she doesn’t want people riding e-scooters regardless of the location.
“They should be banned, prohibited, from the city,” Tracy said.
She hopes to move Ashanti home soon to hospice care – where she will most likely remain for the rest of her life.
“You can’t just wake up, get on an e-scooter and know how to ride it and think it’s going to be ok. It’s not,” she said.