No health insurance? Think twice before riding an e-scooter

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Tampa General Hospital says it's seen a more than 500% increase in accidents involving scooters over the last year, which makes sense because the electric scooters didn't show up until a few months ago. 

Some are finding out the hard way, ending up with costly medical bills, especially for the uninsured.

Doctors say riders should consider the possible hazards before taking a ride.

Dane Williams, of Tampa, says he wishes he would have. He took a spill riding a scooter in downtown Tampa and now has medical bills soaring toward $100,000.

“I was following all of the traffic laws, just like anyone else would. I don’t know if the scooter had a malfunction or I hit a bump, but I ended up in the street,” Williams said.

He shattered the bones in his left leg

“…it was to the extent of having to have surgery and they had to put a rod in my leg, which is permanent,” Williams added.

Williams racked up an $85,000 hospital bill, between his stay at Tampa General, the ambulance, surgery, and medications. He says he has health insurance but will end up paying thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Personal injury attorney Karina Perez says health insurance is the only safety net for an accident like this.

“Other than health insurance, your car insurance is not going to cover you on a scooter. So really, you have to have health insurance to cover yourself, but of course, everyone’s health insurance is different and subject to deductible and co-pays and, unfortunately, the injury potential and severity of the injuries on scooters is huge… If you don’t have excellent health insurance, you could end up with a lot of money out of pocket,” she explained.

Perez says it is important to have coverage - but also to protect yourself in other ways, like wearing a helmet.

“Use a helmet, but also, test them out on the roads. People think that they are fun and they look easy to use. But they’re actually pretty cumbersome to use, as evidence by the number of accidents we’ve already seen in Tampa,” she said, adding since Tampa’s scooter pilot program began this spring, users are not aware of the how little they are protected if they do crash.

Tampa General Hospital’s chief of emergency medicine says last year, in the months of May and June, they had seven scooter-related injuries. This May and June, it was 43.

“Falls with injuries to arms and hands, lower extremities, ankles, as well as head injuries. Those seem to be the two big categories,” explained Dr. David Wein.

Williams added to those statistics.

“I’m just like any other person, just having fun on one of these scooters, and it changed my life forever,” he told FOX 13 news.