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Does a user agreement disqualify injury claims?

Injured riders are looking for help with lawsuits against Bird and Lime, but ‘user agreements’ might keep the companies off the hook.

A Lime electric ride-share scooter lies in the street / EddieHernandezPhotography / Shutterstock.com

Back in August we wrote about the many dangers of ride-share scooters, and, predictably, injuries have been piling up, sadly including a few deaths. But even as these accidents accumulate, there have been very few lawsuits. One likely reason for the small number of lawsuits filed is the extensive legal contract users are required to enter, via their smartphone, before being able to activate a scooter.

Digital agreements are notoriously long and difficult to digest: Bird’s user contract is 5,748 words long, and Lime’s is almost 3 times that. An average mobile device can only display 80-90 words before scrolling, which puts Lime’s user contract at a whopping 200 pages on your phone! Given that most people don’t read even short user contracts in their entirety, there is little hope that most of these scooter riders realize fully what they are signing, and further, that they may be signing away important rights.

After a class action suit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on October 19th, naming product liability, negligence, gross negligence, breach of implied warranty, and public nuisance, Lime amended its user agreement to include a waiver of class action rights. And there’s even some evidence that courts are becoming receptive to the idea that these contracts are overreaching. We will be watching closely to see how any lawsuits against these companies play out, and what it means for public safety and the rights of people injured in scooter-related accidents.

We hope you never have to worry about who is liable in a rental-scooter accident, but to protect yourself just in case, our recommendation is to always read online agreements as thoroughly as you can before signing them. And, of course, always be sure to take safety seriously by obeying all traffic laws and wearing a helmet each and every time you ride. The risk of serious bodily harm and the possibility of a life-altering traumatic injury are very real any time you hop onto one of these rental scooters. If you do find yourself in a situation where you have been injured and are unsure of your rights, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Burnett & Williams. We would be happy to advise you and help guide you on the best path forward.