E-scooters like Bird and Lime have become increasingly popular since they rolled out to most U.S. cities in 2018, but these e-scooters have also caused accident and injury rates to spike. Because e-scooters are so small compared to the average car and offer few protections for riders, riders are far more likely to face serious injury or death when hit by an oncoming vehicle.
In spite of these injury risks, the e-scooter companies have proved less than cooperative when it comes to offering compensation for riders, and many include forced arbitration requirements in their “click-to-agree” clauses. At Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn, our firm partner Cynthia McGuinn recently co-authored an article in The Mercury News on this topic, along with fellow colleagues from the American Board of Trial Advocates.
Why Does Forced Arbitration Hurt E-Scooter Riders?
Although e-scooters have come under a lot of scrutiny for design defects and a lack of safety protections, forced arbitration clauses may ultimately present an even greater threat for rider safety and wellbeing. In her co-authored article, Attorney Cynthia McGuinn and colleagues note that the required “click-to-agree” clauses in apps like Bird and Lime take up more than 250 pages of cell phone screen space – a virtual guarantee that most riders will never read the fine print.
Within those 250 pages of text, there’s also a hidden clause that forces users into confidential and binding arbitration, with arbitrators selected by the company. Citing a Stanford University study that showed companies tend to choose arbitrators with a history of corporate-friendly decisions, the article’s authors write that forced arbitration allows companies to avoid public scrutiny over harassment, injury liability, and other serious problems.
This means many e-scooter riders who become injured may be locked into forced arbitration, with little chance of getting fair compensation for their injuries. From medical costs to lost future wages, accident victims often need significant assistance – but with forced arbitration clauses, it’s less likely that vulnerable e-scooter riders will get that assistance.
Always on the Side of Consumers
As members of the American Board of Trial Advocates, Attorney McGuinn and her colleagues have endorsed the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act that was recently introduced in Congress. This legislation aims to bar arbitration agreements before disputes arise, and make it easier for consumers to bring important issues before a jury of their peers.
When you’ve been hurt in a scooter accident, you can count on our experienced professionals at Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn to help you navigate a legal claim. Since our founding in 1980, we’ve gained a reputation across the country for top-tier advocacy and representation in complex personal injury cases. Committed to justice, our team will fight for your right to fair recovery.
Call (415) 940-7176 today and schedule a free consultation with our San Francisco team.