Atlanta Eyes Regulation of Booming Electric Scooter Business – AJC.com

Jack Hearn, 20, a third-year civil engineering major at Georgia Tech, rides a Bird scooter on campus. JOHN SPINK
Jack Hearn, 20, a third-year civil engineering major at Georgia Tech, rides a Bird scooter on campus. JOHN SPINK / ajc.com

To supporters, they’re an inventive, convenient way to get around the city without much of a carbon footprint. To critics, they’re critters that litter Atlanta’s sidewalks, posing a danger to pedestrians, drivers and the people who use them.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, those dockless scooters that popped up around Atlanta earlier this year could soon be officially regulated by the City of Atlanta.

“These scooters appeared one day and took the city by storm,” said Councilor Michael Julian Bond, the lead sponsor of new legislation.

At a City Council public safety committee meeting Tuesday, the body discussed an ordinance that would set specific rules for where the scooters can be ridden and parked, and implement permit requirements that could net tens of thousands of dollars for the city. The committee voted to hold the bill for now, before it is potentially voted on by the full Council.

The dockless scooter trend has exploded across the country and the world over the past year, reaching cities in more than 25 states as well countries such as Mexico, France and Israel. In some cities like San Antonio and Richmond, the scooters have been met with backlash, and city crews reportedly took to the streets and removed the devices themselves.

Around intown Atlanta, the scooters, operated by California-based companies Lime and Bird, are hard to miss. A Bird representative told the City Council on Tuesday that Atlanta is the company’s second-largest scooter city globally (behind San Diego), and that there are currently over 1,500 Bird scooters deployed here.

They are dockless and electric, meaning they rev up to about 15 mph and can be left virtually anywhere for the next rider. All it takes is a smartphone app to start a relatively inexpensive ride, which costs a $1 flat fee and 15 cents for each additional minute. (Overnight, a team of local employees drives around to pick up and charge the devices.)

On a recent afternoon outside a restaurant near the Beltine, a group of friends squealed “Birds!” as they hopped on a row of the sleek black scooters that awaited them on the sidewalk. Among the group, Marietta resident Kate Noble said it was her first time riding one of the scooters in Georgia.

“Especially in a city like Atlanta, where you’ve got the BeltLine and you’ve got things that connect, I think it’s a fun way to get around,” Noble said.

The current legislation, which would go into effect Jan. 1, sets a $12,000 annual fee for a company to operate 500 scooters, and a $50 fee for every additional device.

It also mandates that the scooters are technically not allowed to ride on sidewalks. This, Bond stressed, is thanks to state law, which prohibits motorized devices from driving on Georgia sidewalks.

Regardless, it highlights the tricky middle ground the scooters have landed in. Since Atlanta is a notoriously car-heavy city, it’s common to see scooter-riders defying the law and cruising down the sidewalks of busy streets like Monroe Drive or Peachtree Street.

Todd O’Boyle, Lime’s development director for the Southeast, said they surveyed riders on whether they use the street or the sidewalk.

“Riders consistently reported that if they ride on the sidewalk, it’s because they didn’t feel safe on the streets,” O’Boyle said.

Inman Park resident Stephanie Thomas worries that scooter riders who are afraid to cruise on the streets could be a danger to pedestrians on sidewalks. Thomas said she was leaving her pedicure appointment on North Highland Avenue earlier this summer when a person on a scooter zipped by, brushing her shoulder.

“If he had been any closer, he would’ve hurt me,” Thomas said. “He never even looked back. That was very frustrating.”

Electric scooters have also been linked to a number of crimes in the city, including a shooting downtown and harassment and theft in Midtown, according to police, though they said there is no direct linkbetween the scooters and crime.

Under the current rules, the scooters are technically not allowed on the BeltLine, though it appears this has not been widely enforced — it’s rare to take a stroll on the BeltLine and not pass fleets of Birds or Limes. The new ordinance would clarify that the scooters can ride on the BeltLine and in city parks.

With an average trip time of 10 minutes, Lime riders in Atlanta take longer scooter treks than people in other major American cities, O’Boyle said.

“People are riding scooters really from one pocket of density to another,” he said. “We really are seeing that people are using this to use their transportation needs,” he said.

O’Boyle and others herald the scooters as an antidote that could help alleviate the metro area’s traffic problems, but it remains to be seen whether the two-wheeled devices are a potential solution, or if they will only become another vehicle on the road complicating the lives of Atlantans.

“We want to give people as many options as possible to live less auto-dependent lives, and that is core to our operation,” he said.

While the scooters are currently confined to the City of Atlanta, they could likely show up soon in other pockets of the metro area.

O’Boyle said Lime has seen interest from neighboring communities like Brookhaven, and while he doesn’t expect any expansion announcements soon, he “wouldn’t be surprised if we’re there in the near future.” The City of Brookhaven confirmed that it is “working with the industry” to develop policies for the devices.

Nov 13, 2018
By J.D. Capelouto, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Will Your Lawyer Pay Your Doctor Bills on Your Personal Injury Case?

Will Your Lawyer Pay Your Doctor Bills on Your Personal Injury Case?
Will Your Lawyer Pay Your Doctor Bills on Your Personal Injury Case?

Your lawyer may pay a doctor to review your medical chart and render an expert opinion, but your lawyer won’t pay your regular medical bills. But what if your lawyer sends you to a doctor to be examined? Your lawyer may pay for you to be examined by a doctor on a one-time basis to render an opinion that your condition was caused by the accident, but not for ongoing regular treatments. For example, you were involved in a car wreck on June 15, 2017 and had a lumbar strain and saw the doctor every week and the physical therapist three times a week for three months. You’ll need a statement from your doctor that it’s her opinion that your lumbar strain and resulting medical care was caused by the June 15, 2017 car wreck. However, your doctor may be unwilling to get involved or sign a statement. Your attorney will either have your records reviewed or send you to a doctor to obtain a causation and disability statement. This is an expense that your attorney will probably pay for. However, no lawyer can pay your ongoing medical bills.

Treatment that is provided by your doctor is a regular medical bill. You will need to treat these bills as you would any other medical expense. If you have health insurance, your health insurance carrier should be billed. Be sure to tell your attorney about all types of insurance coverage including Medicare, a Medicare supplemental provider, any other health insurance carriers, TRICARE, or the VA.

Why is it vital to maximize your health insurance policies coverage? The answer is simple. Any unpaid medical bills will have to be subtracted from your settlement. When you hear the settlement offer you may feel it’s favorable until after all your doctor and hospital bills are paid and you are left with the net amount and feel disappointed. Wait. You’re still worried. You recall signing something that if you obtained a recovery that the insurance company is entitled to be reimbursed. Lo and behold, there is a statute that considers this. If your case settles and does not go to trial, you can argue that the insurance carriers are not entitled to reimbursement on the grounds that you were not fully compensated by the recovery or “made whole” for all your economic and non-economic losses. You will need to consult an attorney to ensure that your settlement documents provide such a statement.

For those involved in a motor vehicle accident, our firm will look to see if you will benefit from MEDPAY or Medical Payments coverage. Medical Payments coverage is a form of no-fault medical coverage which follows your vehicle. If you or passengers in your vehicle are injured, whether you are at fault, Medical Payments may be available to contribute towards your medical bills.

For those who do not have health insurance, there are some doctors who treat on a lien basis. You will need to sign an agreement that you will pay the doctor out of your settlement or verdict. Of course, not all doctors are willing to treat on a lien basis and you may have to do some searching until you find a doctor willing to treat you based on a lien. Your attorney will be able to assist you with this.

In summary, a good personal injury attorney will assist you with identifying all possible sources of insurance coverage for payment of medical bills. The coordination of medical benefits is likely to ensure that you receive the best possible medical care and increase the value of your personal injury settlement.

The “Secret Playbook” the Insurance Industry Doesn’t Want You to Read

Shh. Keep this under your hat. The insurance industry has a secret playbook they use with all plaintiffs to try to prevent you from hiring an attorney in order to keep their payouts low. Here’s an excerpt from their secret playbook and remember don’t pass this around – too much.

1. Insurance companies don’t want you to hire a lawyer. Insurance companies pay more money to plaintiffs who hire a lawyer. Therefore, insurance companies will try to tell you that you can do better or just as good without a lawyer. Reason being they want to pay you less than what your claim is worth. It goes without saying that insurance companies are in the business of making money and they make more money the less they pay to settle your claim, regardless of how injured you are or the merits of your case.

2. The insurance adjuster is not your best friend. He may be pleasant on the phone and personally he may understand what you are going through. However, he has a job to do and the less money he pays you, the more money he makes through big bonuses and promotions.

3. The insurance adjuster can tell you things that are not on the level. You are stressed and in pain. The adjuster knows this and will try to take advantage of your vulnerability. He will try to tell you that your case is minor because it’s just a soft tissue injury with no broken bones or a low impact car crash with slight damage to your car. He may try to tell you that you aren’t entitled to certain kinds of benefits such as pain and suffering since you recovered from your injuries within 3 to 6 months or had a prior injury.

4. An insurance adjuster can bluff when negotiating settlement. He can tell you that he doesn’t have any more settlement authority even when he does. For instance, the adjuster can say, “That’s my best offer.” But, the adjuster may be bluffing and have more money. You may hear the adjuster say something to the effect of, “If you hire an attorney, you’ll end up with less money because of attorney fees and trial costs,” or “You have until the end of business today to take the offer or we’ll see you at trial.”

5. A settled case is a closed case. The insurance adjuster wants to close your case. The more open cases he has, the more work he has. This means the adjuster wants to settle, even though he acts as if he could care less about settlement and claims he’d rather go to trial. The adjuster will discount the settlement value of your case considerably until you retain an attorney.

6. The insurance adjuster won’t tell you your rights. The insurance adjuster won’t tell you about things that you have a right to be compensated for. For example, you are entitled to be reimbursed for items such as prescriptions, the loss of use of your car, damage to items in your car, mileage to your doctors, and diminution of value to your car after the wreck.

7. When you are talking to the insurance adjuster, you might as well be talking to their lawyer. The adjuster often has their lawyer on speed dial and has already spoken to the attorney about your case. Adjusters attend training programs put together by their attorneys who know how to push your psychological buttons and prey on your fears of dragging out the case in order to get by with paying you the least amount of money.

8. The insurance company has deep pockets. It goes without saying that the insurance company has millions and billions of dollars and you don’t. In fact, the longer the insurance company holds onto its money, the more money it makes on interest and the more profit it makes. Therefore, it is in the insurance company’s best interest not to settle your case quickly, unless they can settle it cheaply.

9. Prime time TV advertising costs insurance companies big bucks. But insurance companies wouldn’t be spending the big bucks on TV advertising if they weren’t raking in the money.

10. Insurance companies factor the cost of litigation in their decisions. In settlement you should always consider the trial cost in settlement decisions. Besides the cost of paying their attorney there are court reporter, expert and filing fees.

The best defense against the insurance companies’ “Secret Playbook” is to know your rights. Having an Affleck & Gordon lawyer on your side will make the insurance company sit up and take notice. This is because the personal injury lawyers at Affleck & Gordon understand the value of your claim and won’t let the insurance company get away with pressuring you to take a low-ball offer.

If you have been involved in a car wreck or truck accident in the Atlanta area, or anywhere else in Georgia, please call us today at (404) 373-1649.