Was Injured on a Sidewalk by a Segway. What Is the Responsibility of the Driver?

Segways are two-wheeled, power-operated transportation devices. The user balances on the device to move from one place to the next. Segways are allowed on sidewalks in many states, but a rider could be civilly liable for hitting pedestrians.

Legal Status

Segways are regulated by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. They are considered “consumer products” and do not require the same type of care as motor vehicles do. Laws about Segways are usually included in laws that cover “personal assistive mobility devices.”

State Laws

Segways are frequently regulated at both the local and state level. Local and state laws can dictate whether riders are allowed to use sidewalks, bike paths, slow-speed roads, or where Segways are not permitted.

Injuries and their causes

Segway riders who turn too fast or fail to look out for pedestrians could inflict injury. If users don’t have the proper knowledge or education about how to operate the Segway, they may be unable to suddenly accelerate or brake.

Possible Causes of Action

There may be several legal options available to someone if they are injured by a Segway. Many people have brought lawsuits against the manufacturer citing product defects that caused their injuries. The maker, tour companies, and riders have all been sued for negligence. A negligence lawsuit requires that the plaintiff prove that the defendant owed him or her a duty to care and that the defendant violated that duty, causing the plaintiff damages.

Standard of Care

The standard of care is the central element in a negligence case. Everyone has a general duty to care for others and to act in a reasonable way. In negligence cases based on Segway injuries, the plaintiff has the burden of proof of showing that the defendant failed to exercise the standard of care. This standard is based upon the “reasonably prudent individual.” It means that the actions of the defendant are compared to the hypothetical actions taken by a similarly intelligent, experienced person of a similar age. This standard examines how a reasonable person would act in similar circumstances. Such a person is law-abiding and exhibits the proper amount of caution.

Segways can be owned and operated by companies as part of tour businesses or similar ventures. Businesses that are part of a tour or similar business usually have a higher standard for customer care and may be more willing to help customers and others who come in contact with them.

Negligence Per Se

In certain cases, the legal doctrine of negligence per se could be relevant. The negligence per se standard does not require that the plaintiff prove that the defendant’s conduct was specifically negligent. This is because negligence is presumed on the basis that the defendant violated the statute. Jurisdictions vary on their application of negligence per se.

To apply negligence per se, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant violated any statute that provides for a criminal punishment. The statute might call for a fine, or even imprisonment. Civil penalties are not sufficient. Additionally, the harm that the defendant caused was the type that was trying to be prevented by the issuance of the statute and the victim was someone in a group that the statute was designed to protect. In some jurisdictions, negligence per se only provides a presumption of negligence, which the defendant can rebut.

Things To Take Into Account

Segways are a relatively recent invention of the 21st Century. The total number of Segways sold in 2015 was in the thousands, for a profit of  approximately $100,000 in the United States. The number of lawsuits and injuries is low. This means that there are fewer precedents and templates available for lawsuits than other types of lawsuits. But, the traditional negligence principles still apply and a personal injury lawyer might be able to help victims with monetary recovery.

Updated 12/8/2021