San Diego

Woman Hurt on Electric Scooter Files Lawsuit Against Bird

A San Diego woman is suing the electric scooter company, Bird, after what she says was a fall due to malfunctioning brakes. 

In September, Ngoneh Secka found herself on the ground, in pain and bleeding after attempting to test the brakes of an electric scooter, she told NBC 7.

“Next thing I know I am on the ground, the scooter is in front of me and a woman was next to me saying, 'Do I need to call 911? And I am like "no, I am fine,' and she said 'no you are not'," Secka said. 

Secka had gotten a hold of a Bird electric scooter on 2nd Street near Elm Avenue in downtown San Diego, a routine she was used to. But when she hopped on the scooter to test the brakes she suddenly realized they did not work, according to Secka.

"I took it off the curb to start testing the brakes right off the street and it wasn’t working, so I was doing everything I could to stop it and get off it, but as you can see it is a steep hill it just kept pummeling down," Secka said.

She suffered a cut above her right eyebrow, road rash, and injuries to her knee and big toe. 

"Though scooter companies report that the top speed of the scooters is 15 mph, I believe that the scooters may go much faster downhill,” said Secka’s personal injury attorney Catherine Lerer. "I believe that the brakes may be insufficient to stop a scooter going down a steep hill."

Secka’s injury on an electric scooter is just one example of the many that her attorney is seeing.

"My Santa Monica personal injury law firm has been inundated with scooter accident calls beginning in April of this year," said Lerer. "The most common malfunctions we hear about are the brakes failing, the throttle sticking, and the scooter dying mid-ride."

Secka told NBC 7 that when the ambulance arrived she was told that she was "one of the lucky ones" and that emergency responders see "no less than four a day" of scooter-related injuries.

Despite the accidents, more electric scooters are appearing across San Diego.

Lyft is now joining the trend and plans to unload 200 scooters in San Diego by the end of the week.

"We know that scooters are new and there is still a lot of education to be had. That’s why we’re building in education directly into our app, and are working closely with cities to implement the right solutions for safe streets," said a Lyft spokesperson via e-mail to NBC 7.

"Compared to other operators in this space – we have docks that are a responsible way for riders to park their scooters on streets, and we’re working with cities to place these docks in areas where there is high demand, near transit stations, etc."

Lyft said their team will pick up scooters nightly to charge and perform maintenance.

Secka wants all scooter companies to ensure that they are providing functioning scooters on the streets.

"It’s a mode of transportation," said Secka. "The same laws that apply to cars should apply to scooters. You can’t have a scooter with failed brakes. You can’t have cars on the street with failed brakes."

We reached out to Bird about Secka’s case and their safety measures and they have not responded to our questions.

This story will be updated once Bird responds to the lawsuit.  

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