The ridesharing company announced it was suspending service in the Big Apple due to issues with “rider accountability and safety measures.”
After two Revel riders died in two separate incidents in less than two weeks, New York Mayor Bill deBlasio called the company’s safety record “unacceptable.”
“Our people have been talking to Revel, and they’ve been making changes, but not enough changes is the bottom line.
This has just gotten to be too much,” he added.
Anyone with a facially valid drivers’ license can rent a Ravel electric scooter, which has a top speed of 30mph.
The company’s lenient policy has caused problems before. In July 2020, Revel suspended 1,000 users for various safety violations, including failure to wear a helmet.
“I think Revel could’ve done more to make riders understand these are not toys, there’s a risk to riding them,” one observer opined.
“Finally the city is stepping in and realizing that Revel needs to take a break, step back, take a look at their practices in terms of safety, and figure out if this is something that New York can handle.”
From a mechanical standpoint, mopeds are essentially bicycle-motorcycle combinations.
From a statistical standpoint, these are two of the most dangerous vehicles on the road. As compared to vehicle occupants, moped riders are thirty times more likely to die in a collision. Some of these serious injuries include:
- Head Injuries: Motorcycle helmets do nothing to prevent many head injuries. Frequently, the motion of a crash, as opposed to crash trauma, is to blame. When riders fall off their bikes and hit the ground, their soft brains slam against the insides of their hard skulls.
- Biker’s Arm: These injuries are normally not fatal, but they can be permanent. When people fall, they naturally extend their arms to break their falls. This reflex often snaps nerves in the brachial plexus area, causing permanent paralysis.
- Broken Bones: Accidental fall-related broken bones are typically not too serious. Crash-related broken bones are another story. Since the force in a collision usually crushes bones instead of merely breaking them, these victims usually suffer permanent loss of use.
Because of these severe injuries, the victim’s medical bills often goes into the six-figures.
Under the negligent entrustment rule, leasing companies like Revel could be financially responsible for medical bills.
The same is true for other economic losses, such as lost wages, and all noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Liability attaches if the company knowingly allowed an incompetent operator to use its property, which in this case was a moped. Evidence of incompetency includes:
- No Valid Drivers’ License: Revel only performed visual drivers’ license inspections. A license can be facially valid but legally invalid, due to a safety-related suspension or revocation.
- Lack of Instruction: Revel did not require renters to watch a safety video or have any moped/motorcycle experience. Additionally, Revel did nothing to advise riders about some key laws and safety principles, such as the illegality of driving a moped on a sidewalk.
The vehicle leasing standard of care often comes into play in these situations. If the company’s conduct fell below the industry standard, that’s evidence of negligence.
Commercial negligent entrustment claims are different from noncommercial claims, because of the Graves Amendment.
This federal law requires victims to prove some additional facts before they are eligible for injury compensation.
Some Possible Defenses
A New York personal injury attorney must do more than prepare a liability claim. A good lawyer must also be ready for some common defenses, especially in motorcycle/moped collision claims.
Contributory negligence is probably the most common vehicle collision defense.
This legal loophole shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor (negligent actor) to the victim.
The aforementioned sidewalk operation is a good example. The company could argue that the victim’s negligent operation, as opposed to the company’s lax leasing practices, substantially caused the wreck.
In these situations, a jury must divide fault on a percentage basis between the victim and tortfeasor. New York is a pure comparative fault state.
Even if the victim is 99 percent responsible for the wreck, the tortfeasor is still liable for a proportionate share of damages.
New York also allows the motorcycle helmet defense, at least to an extent. Lack of a helmet is not relevant to liability, but it can reduce the amount of damages the victim receives.
However, to invoke this defense, tortfeasors must do more than cite helmet safety statistics.
The tortfeasor must prove that the lack of a helmet caused the victim’s injuries. And, as mentioned above, helmets do not prevent many kinds of head injuries.
Moped accident victims are often entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees.