Show of hands — who here has been hit by an electric scooter in a theme park?
That's me, raising my hand. Like many such incidents, mine happened in Epcot, and yes, the person driving the scooter was holding a beer in one hand as they steered into me with the other. (Food & Wine Fest, represent!) The collision knocked me to the ground, cut my ankle... and hurt like heck.
Fortunately, I was able to hobble next door to the Beach Club, where I plopped myself onto a couch in the air-conditioned lobby until I felt better, and, to be honest, finished and posted the story I was at the park to write. Ultimately? No harm, no foul.
But that's not always the result when heavy ECVs crash into pedestrians, who often don't see the motor vehicles coming. The Orlando Sentinel this week detailed the case of a Walt Disney World annual passholder who said that she needed hip surgery following a collision with an ECV, also at Epcot. She's now seeking more than $15,000 in damages... from Disney.
Suing Disney for a scooter accident seems to me a bit like suing the government responsible for a road after a car crash. Perhaps in rare cases of extreme negligence in design or maintenance that might be appropriate, but it's not like the scooter driver hit a pothole in World Showcase that sent him or her careening into the plaintiff.
At least, this lawsuit isn't claiming that. It is, however, suggesting that Disney ought to create dedicated lanes for ECVs, instead. (As if the pathways in Disney's theme parks weren't crowded enough.)
Regardless of what you think about Disney's role in all this, ECV drivers absolutely ought to be held responsible for any injuries caused in collisions — just as automobile drivers are in a car wreck. ECVs have been around for years, but with electric scooters such as Lime and Bird taking over street corners in cities across the country, conflicts between scooter drivers and pedestrians are increasing. That's driving a legal debate over scooter drivers' responsibility in accidents.
Do states need to pass laws requiring ECV and other scooter drivers to carry insurance against injuries they might cause others? Right now, you can buy insurance when you rent an ECV to take into the parks, but many of those policies just cover the scooter — not the damage that you might cause with it.
Of course, not everyone driving a scooter is doing so for convenience. For many ECV drivers, a scooter provides their only opportunity for mobility. An insurance requirement would add to the cost of the disability that left these park guests needing an ECV. Is that right?
There's a lot to debate here. And indignantly suggesting scooter drivers ought to "be more responsible" isn't the answer. Accidents will happen, even if everyone works to minimize their probability.
But those who are injured through no fault of their own should not have to bear any financial expense from that. The risk of driving a scooter ought to be factored into the price of operating one, though in a way that does not prevent responsible drivers with disabilities from accessing the mobility that they need.
If lawmakers don't provide a solution here, we're just going to see more injured people hiring lawyers to ask the courts to find one.Tweet
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