Scooter Accidents and Wheelchair Tip-overs on Busses Causing Lawsuits

The American Disabilities Act prevents all public transit companies from refusing service to disabled passengers. The Act pushed all public transit companies to adopt methods to safely transport disabled passengers. In some cases, the Act specifically regulates the manner in which disabled passengers will be transported.

As a result, most transit busses are now equipped with commercial tie-down systems that are intended to secure wheelchairs and three-wheel scooters to the floor of the bus. In many cases, this system works just fine. Over time, however, we have begun to see a trend in tip-over accidents with both wheelchairs and scooters.

The first potential cause of a tip-over accident, and the most obvious, is the failure of the bus driver to properly secure the wheelchair or scooter to the floor. The second and increasingly common cause is a bendable plastic frame on the scooter.

Over the years, manufacturers of scooters have opted to make their scooters weigh less. To do so they have shifted from metal frames to plastic frames. The end result is that certain scooters are becoming tough, if not impossible, to secure to the bus. When a bus driver attempts to secure a scooter to the bus floor, the plastic frame begins to bend as the scooter is cinched down. Extreme cinching can result in breaking the frame. On the other hand, not cinching the scooter tightly results in an unsecured scooter due to the bendability of the frame.

The real issue is that both the manufacturers and the transit companies are aware of the problem and the scooter owner is not.

The manufacturer has responded by placing vague warning language in their operations manual. However, if you call the sales department of various scooter stores they will tell you their scooter models are safe to ride on public transit with various attachments.

Transit companies on the other hand continue to strap and tie-down unsuspecting passengers. Very few companies are warning their passengers of this problem. As a result, reports from bus drivers, lawsuits, and settlements are on the rise. This is a growing safety problem that needs to be addressed by the manufacturer or by transit companies by openly disclosing this safety hazard to their customers.

As an attorney in Oregon , we have been able to help individuals and their families in situations like these. The hope is that through accountability we can achieve increased safety in the community.

- Dan Rayfield, personal injury attorney in Albany, Oregon.

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