In Austin, Dallas, and other major metropolitan areas throughout Texas, the use of e-scooters by employees is on the rise. As an employer, it is critically important to understand the growing phenomenon of e-scooters as a means of transportation, your potential liability as an employer, and how to minimize your risks when employees choose to use e-scooters to get around. The expert employment law attorneys at Simon Paschal in Dallas have experience helping employers navigate this new issue affecting businesses and their employees.
The Growing Use of e-Scooters
The use of e-scooters in major cities is a relatively new, but booming, trend in transportation. Companies like Bird, Lime, and Skip appeared in cities across the country beginning in September 2017, opting to establish operations in the city before negotiating with city officials. Today e-scooters are available in 125 cities across the country, and Bird has boasted more than ten million rides by consumers already.
Employer Liability for e-Scooter Accidents
These e-scooter companies have elaborate “hold harmless” clauses in their user agreements, and customers injured while riding on an e-scooter often have difficulty getting compensation for their claims. This issue of liability can significantly affect employers when an employee is injured on an e-scooter while in the course of business. Is an employer liable for workers’ compensation coverage for e-scooter injuries? Typically, workers’ compensation does not cover injuries sustained while an employee is traveling to a fixed place of employment. However, it does cover accidents that occur while an employee is traveling on work-related business, such as between offices or to and from meetings, and the mode of transportation in these cases is irrelevant.
Another impediment to determining liability in e-scooter accidents is that laws vary widely regarding e-scooter use; they differ from state to state and sometimes city to city. For example, in Austin, e-scooters are allowed both on sidewalks and in bike lanes.
Utilizing Policies to Control e-Scooter Use
An employer can utilize company policies to minimize the risk of employer liability for an e-scooter claim. Examples of company policies limiting liability include provisions on driving a speed prudent for conditions, using a helmet, knowing and abiding by all applicable laws and guidelines, employee responsibility for all citations received, bans on headphone or earbud use while driving, requirement of a valid driver’s license, maintaining control of the e-scooter at all times, and not allowing passengers while driving an e-scooter. Of course, employers could prohibit employees from utilizing the e-scooters while on company business.
Contact Our Office Today
The use of e-scooters is growing throughout major metropolitan areas in Texas and it is important that employers understand their legal options. If your organization needs assistance with an e-scooter policy, set up a consultation with the employment lawyers at Simon | Paschal PLLC today.