San Diego

Woman Injured by Parked Scooter Files Liability Claim Against City

Allegations reveal potential taxpayer liability for unusual scooter accidents

A local woman claims she fractured her knee and damaged a tooth when she tripped on a motorized scooter that was lying on the sidewalk outside a Bankers Hill restaurant.

According to the February 1 claim against the city of San Diego, Joyce Summer exited her car in front of Mr. A’s Restaurant and “tripped over a Bird scooter that was lying on the sidewalk and a (metal) grate around a tree.”

Summer said she didn’t see the scooter because it was “similar in color” to the grate. “My toe caught on the scooter, and I fell over it,” Summer said in the claim, which NBC 7 obtained through the state public records act.

Summer’s attorney, James Byrnes, notes in the claim that the fall occurred on city property.

“The city neglected to provide a safe environment for pedestrians by allowing scooter companies to dump their vehicles on city streets and sidewalks, blocking sidewalks and creating a dangerous condition,” the claim states.

Summer is seeking at least $25,000 in damages from the city. If the city rejects the claim, she can file a lawsuit against the city for her alleged injuries, pain and suffering, any lost income, and other damages.

The city of San Diego faces numerous claims and lawsuits related to rental scooter injuries, but the majority of those legal actions involve injuries suffered by riders who fell from their scooter or collided with an object or another person. Pedestrians, bicyclists and bystanders have also filed claims and lawsuits against the city for injuries they allegedly suffered when hit by a scooter.

The city attorney’s office declined to comment on Summer’s claim. A spokesman for Mayor Kevin Faulconer told NBC 7 the mayor is formulating new rules for scooters, including parking and “staging” requirements and strategies to limit the city’s liability for injuries such as those allegedly suffered by Summer.

The Mayor’s office said the city council will discuss those recommendations in the coming month.

Downtown resident Jonathan Freeman is an outspoken proponent of tighter regulations on scooters, including a strict enforcement of a ban on the parking of scooters on sidewalks.

“The natural assumption of people is, ‘If I’m starting my rental on the sidewalk, it must be OK to ride them on the sidewalk,’” Freeman said. “So they drive them on the sidewalk, and then they park them on the sidewalk,” continuing a dangerous cycle.

Freeman started a group called Safe Sidewalks to lobby for tighter restrictions on scooters. He also has a Facebook page -- “The Promenaders” --that shows examples of potentially dangerous situations involving scooters. 

At least one scooter company argues that city regulations allow it to park scooters on the sidewalk as long as doing so does not block pedestrian movement. Freeman said he has read the law, and disagrees.

His solution to the problem?

“Put them in the street. Drive them in the street. Park them in the street. If people simply did that, it would alleviate a huge proportion of the problem.”

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story said that the accident happened in Hillcrest. The story has been changed to reflect the fall happened in Bankers Hill. 

Contact Us