At the time that this newsletter is going to press, Revel has suspended its e-scooter business in New York City due to two recent fatal accidents.
Within the last couple of weeks, two people have died. One was a reporter on the local CBS news. She was a passenger; her boyfriend was driving. He lost control when trying to avoid a car. In the second accident, the operator ran into a pole. In both instances, both persons did not wear helmets.
It seems that Revel has no way of making sure that its renters wear helmets which are supposed to be available in each scooter. Aside from lack of helmet use, there have been recorded cases of renters carrying two passengers where it is anticipated that there should be only one passenger.
Under the recently passed law, e-scooters have became legalized. Its legality was murky prior to the passage of this law in April. However, cities have the right to regulate the time, place, and manner of their use. It appears that New York City and Revel have come to an agreement that Revel would suspend its business in the City pending further study as to safety.
Last summer I wrote about the folly of allowing e-bikes and e-scooters entering the mix of the City’s vehicular traffic. I believe that these are dangerous vehicles and not toys. The law has placed another danger on the road.
- Motorcycle licenses are not required for e-scooters.
- E-scooters are actually mopeds or mini-motorcycles that can reach up to 25 mph. Great harm can be inflicted on not only the operator and passenger but to the innocent pedestrian.
- E-scooters carry liability insurance for the benefit of the renter of only $25,000 per person injured and $50,000 for two or more persons. This is so-called $25/$50 coverage which is the bare minimum required for motor vehicles. There is also $10,000 for property damage insurance. There is also a deductible of $500. There appears to be no medical insurance for either the operator, passenger, pedestrian, or another person injured in an accident.
From our viewpoint, we see many potential problems and unanswered questions.
- In the event of a collision, who would be responsible in a lawsuit? The operator or Revel? We think that Revel would disclaim any liability, and it is possible that its position will be upheld since it is not a motor vehicle owner under New York law. I have no doubt that in its contract with the renter, Revel denies any and all liability, and the renter assumes all liability.
- Would Revel be able to shield itself from liability on the ground that it has no vicarious liability? In New York, a regular motor vehicle owner is vicariously liable for the negligence of the operator regardless of whether the owner was present. Will Revel claim that such vicarious liability is inapplicable to it in that merely rents-out the e-scooter and that is does not fall under the vicarious liability law for regular motor vehicles?
- What happens if the renter allows his passenger, his son, to try-out the Revel, and the son has an accident? Will Revel provide insurance to the child? Probably not. Revel provides only liability insurance to the renter. The renter must be in compliance with the rental agreement. Presumably, Revel would deny insurance to a non-renter the ground that the rental and insurance is solely for the renter. Revel will claim that the non-renter was an unauthorized user.
- Assuming that there is a very serious accident, will the injured party be limited to recovery of the $25,000? Most renters are young people, and most are impecunious. Also, most do not have private insurance which could cover above the $25,000, such as renter’s insurance. We could foresee some very serious accident victims being limited to $25,000. Also, some of the renters could be forced into bankruptcy.
We recommend against renting these e-scooters. Discourage your children from doing so.
However, if you choose to ride in an e-scooter, do the following:
- Make sure that you have health insurance in force. It appears that there may be no medical insurance through Revel.
- Make sure that you have in effect private insurance which may have to cover you in excess of the $25,000 in the event of an accident. E.g., homeowner’s, renter’s , or condo.
- Wear a helmet. Follow all rules of motorcycle safety and law, such as travelling with the traffic. Do not go through red lights. Use caution and common sense.
If you have been injured by a Revel e-scooter, please call us.