“Revel” No Longer: Injuries from the Use of Revel Mopeds Are on the Rise

By Jill Savedoff, Esq., Of Counsel to Gray Law Firm
Woman Riding a Bike

The recent influx of Revel scooter users in New York City is giving birth to new lawsuits that may eventually make new law. Since May 2019, Revel, a scooter sharing service, has released 1000 of its electric-powered scooters/mopeds onto the roads of New York City.[1] In fact, an individual seeking to rent a Revel moped needs only the app and a driver’s license to obtain a Revel moped and use it on the busy streets of New York City.

As Revel’s scooters acquire more access to the New York City streets, they are causing serious injuries to pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and even the (largely) inexperienced scooter riders themselves. By way of a tragic example, on September 29, 2020, eighty-two (82) year old Helga Schnitker lost her life after she was struck by a Revel scooter while walking across an intersection on the Upper West Side.[2]

With the increase of injuries arising from the use of Revel mopeds, lawsuits are increasing as well. In fact, a simple search of the court system, revealed twenty (20) active lawsuits against Revel Transit Inc. in the courts within the five (5) boroughs.

The questions that the courts will be forced to address in the very near future is whether those injured by the use of the Revel scooters on the public streets will be able to hold the rental company, which in most cases will be the “deepest pocket,” liable. The issue is complex and there will likely not be a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Should Revel be held liable when one of its scooters malfunctions? What responsibility will Revel have to maintain its scooters in proper working condition? What responsibility will Revel have when injuries are caused by user error, recklessness, or negligence?

In Brooklyn, a lawsuit was filed in July 2019, by a bicyclist who sustained serious injuries after being struck by a Revel moped. The named defendants in the lawsuit include the operator of the scooter and Revel Transit Inc. With respect to Revel Transit Inc., the complaint alleges, among other claims, that the company failed to assure its users had sufficient knowledge and skill to operate the scooter; failed to ascertain the previous experience in operating the scooter; failed to ensure that the operator was in good physical condition prior to operating the scooter and was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol prior to rental; and failed to provide the user with training classes prior to rental. This lawsuit still is pending.

Another lawsuit in Brooklyn, alleges that a man sustained serious and permanent injuries while operating a Revel moped that malfunctioned, causing him to lose control of the moped. The Plaintiff therein is claiming that Revel Transit was negligent in the manner in which it owned, operated, maintained, managed, inspected, and repaired the moped. This lawsuit still is pending.

If the courts in this State were to hold Revel vicariously liable for the conduct of its users, could this new body of case law be expanded to other forms of vehicles and other industries? Should Revel bear the responsibility for injuries caused by the scooters it held out for rent across the city? Should renters be required to purchase their own insurance prior to renting a scooter from Revel? With the popularity of car/bicycle/scooter sharing apps on the rise, the issue is not likely to go away. Only time will tell.



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