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Driver exiting parking structure hits scooter rider on sidewalk. Who’s liable?

Question:

I was riding an e-scooter on the sidewalk in Long Beach and I was hit by a car that was exiting a parking structure. The driver tried to blame me. Who's at fault?

Answer:

This is a fairly common accident. Our personal injury lawyers have handled many scooter accidents involving a rider who was struck by a vehicle exiting a parking structure or driveway. The danger for scooter riders is that the automobile driver is not expecting a fast moving scooter to suddenly approach from the side. The driver is often looking to the left, to see if it's safe to exit onto the roadway, and doesn't see the scooter rider until it’s too late.

Depending on the facts of your accident, there is likely some fault on you and some fault on the car driver. The reason you bear some of the liability: under California law, it is illegal to ride an electric scooter on the sidewalk:

Vehicle Code Section 21235: The operator of a motorized scooter shall not ...(g) Operate a motorized scooter upon a sidewalk, except as may be necessary to enter or leave adjacent property.

So unless you were just going up onto the sidewalk or leaving the sidewalk, it was illegal for you to be riding on the sidewalk. That makes you partially at fault.

The driver of the vehicle also likely bears some fault for the accident for not being attentive. Had the driver inched out of the driveway or parking structure, and looked to the left or right before crossing onto the sidewalk, the driver should have seen you approaching on the scooter.

When the injury victim bears partial fault for an accident, this is called "comparative negligence." Comparative negligence means that the value of your claim is reduced by your percentage of fault. Because you were riding on the sidewalk, which is against the law, you were comparatively negligent. In practicality, what that means is that the vehicle driver's insurance company will not pay 100% on your claim, but instead may refuse to pay anything, or may only pay a lesser percentage. Who determines the percentage of fault of you? The driver’s insurance company can place any percentage on you that they want. As a negotiating tactic, they will usually inflate your percentage of fault. Ultimately, if you and the insurance company cannot agree on a settlement amount, and you file a lawsuit against the driver, then a jury could decide your percentage of fault.

What should you do after a scooter v. auto accident? If possible, take photos of the scene, including photos taken from your view as you were approaching the point of impact, and the driver's view as the driver was approaching the point of impact. Also, it's important to canvas the area for witnesses and for any surveillance video cameras that may have captured the accident.

When a scooter rider is struck by a car, the injuries can be very serious, even deadly. You need an advocate on your side to fight for the compensation you are entitled to, including compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you are a scooter rider on the sidewalk who was hit by a vehicle driver exiting a parking lot or parking structure, you should seek the advice of an experienced scooter accident lawyer. We know the tricks the insurance company will employ to pay you as little as possible. Don’t fall victim to insurance company shenanigans. Call us for a free consultation.

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