A Bloody Mess

(v – u)/t = Tort Liability!

I was afraid of this… it was almost predictable: The laws of physics being what they are, when we have a body, particularly a human body, being propelled through space at maybe 20 mph and interacting with stationary objects we get… Tort Liability!

Check this out:

The following excerpt is from a very fine Bloomberg article and links you to the full text:

(Bloomberg) — A lawsuit targeting electric scooter-sharing companies seizes on the dangers of zipping around town on two wheels and brings gory detail to one of the more polarizing technology trends to emerge over the last year.

Nine people who were injured by electric scooters filed the class-action suit on Oct. 19 in Los Angeles County Superior Court. It accuses startups Bird Rides Inc. and Lime — as well as their manufacturers Xiaomi Corp. and Segway Inc. — of gross negligence, claiming the companies knew the scooters were dangerous and deployed them in a way that was certain to cause injuries.

I am most amazed at the revenue reaped from renting out these little devils all over the place: Bird and Lime are now two of the youngest startups to earn unicorn status in Silicon Valley with valuations of $2 billion and $3 billion or more, respectively. (Olivia Carville) Wow. Double wow.

Well, the greater the risk, the greater the reward, right? So, it’s going to be a whopper of a class-action lawsuit with big bucks, jobs and reputations at stake. One thing’s for sure- the CEOs of those companies are courageous folks. Considering the wealth created in such a short time, this is also one for the books.

In a previous post, I commented on the negatives of the Uber-like approach these companies have used very successfully to both create and position the scooter rental market. If these companies “asked permission first” we would not have seen such a meteoric rise which is, in many ways, just beginning.

Some consider the legal liability incurred to be an unfortunate but necessary part of the development of this industry. Same things happened in the development of the automobile industry (think Ford Pinto) and now we have… liability insurance. And safety. And really expensive cars.

A sure sign that scooters have gone mainstream and, just like automobiles, they are here to stay. Unless, of course, the outcome of the class-action lawsuit changes that “Dollar To Start” to “Three, Four or More Dollars To Start.” Maybe not so many scooters dotting the neighborhood then.

Good thing they rented out enough scooters to get over $5 billion in the bank.

But the good news is, very soon, as battery technology goes to the next generation, we will see scooters with a range of more than 20 miles on one charge, are heavy-duty and will be light enough to fold into a back pack. A game-changer.

I’m going to want to own one of those, for sure. You?

(Regarding the formula in the title above, and for those of you who, like me, slept through Physics, deceleration, or decrease in speed, can be calculated using multiple different formulas, depending on the available parameters. Some deceleration formulas include a = (v – u)/t, and a = (v^2 – u^2) / (2s). For humans and other creatures, it’s often not a good outcome. But it sure can be fun!)

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