‘Absolutely devastated’: Scooter crash changed muso’s life
JACK JONES, a young musician who grew up in Yeppoon, was leisurely riding an electric scooter in Brisbane when it suddenly stopped, and he was catapulted onto the ground.
As a result of the fall, Jack, broke his right elbow which is now fixed by wires and pins - drastically limiting his ability to not just play music but teach, compose and conduct music.
Jack, now 24, is exploring his legal options with Maurice Blackburn lawyers for compensation for the life-changing injury.
The incident occurred in January 2019 while Jack was on school holidays from studying at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.
A friend had mentioned the Lime Scooters, electric scooters available for hire in Brisbane.
"It wasn't something I was interested in using regularly, but I thought it might be fun and I saw on the app that there was one nearby, so I decided go for a leisurely ride around Fairfield where I often rode my pushbike," Jack said.
But it didn't go as expected.
"I was enjoying the ride when the front wheel suddenly stopped without warning," he said.
"In an instant, I was thrown on the footpath.
"I knew I had hurt myself badly so I called myself an ambulance."
Jack described the pain as like hitting your funny bone, but only much worse.
He stayed in hospital overnight and the following morning was told he would need surgery to regain the use of his elbow.
The surgeon also told Jack his elbow injury might have permanent side effects.
"I was absolutely devastated," he said.
Jack had to wait almost two weeks at home for the grazes to heal before he could have the surgery.
The pain and swelling was so severe that all he could do was balance his arm on a pile of pillows in front of the TV.
Jack's parents had to drop everything to travel to Brisbane to look after him.
"After the surgery and another night in hospital, I had barely any range of motion left," Jack said.
"I was determined to get better, so I followed the advice of my physiotherapist to a tee.
"At first, I could not even bend my elbow enough to reach my nose."
It has now been about 18 months since the surgery.
The area is still very sensitive, often swollen and the slightest bump is extremely painful for Jack.
Leaning on his elbow is impossible.
Jack still has pins in his arms which need to be removed.
He is currently in Japan teaching English but he does still make use of his musical background to engage with the children.
"When I tried performing for the students, I found that pieces I was able to play effortlessly before were full of mistakes," he said.
"This was very disheartening and it was some time before I was able to enjoy playing music again and find out what I can still do while still having pins in my arm.
"Now I'm playing tuba in the school band as much as I can and enjoy every moment of it.
"I hope that I can always make music part of my career."
Jack plays the piano, tuba and clarinet and until he has the pins removed, he doesn't know how his injury will affect his musical skills.
"For many instruments - piano for example - I know that the elbow is just as important for playing as the fingers and the wrist," he said.
"The very idea that a physical disability might stop me from developing my skills further is extremely upsetting."
Maurice Blackburn has been contacted by about half a dozen riders since 2019 who've been injured while using a Lime Scooter.
A number of these incidents allegedly involved issues with the front wheel locking up.
Maurice Blackburn Rockhampton principal lawyer Meghan Rothery said they had seen clients with a range of injuries from a broken collarbone to broken elbow and broken leg bones.
Ms Rothery recently featured in The Morning Bulletin's Rockhampton 50 Most Influential people see the story here.
"These are injuries that have a significant impact on people's lives and ability to work," she said.
There is also a concern for the safety of other road users, particularly pedestrians, who could be injured by one of these scooters, Ms Rothery said.
"Greater vigilance is needed in enforcing the rules around the use of e-scooters, for riders and the companies that hold licences to operate the scooters," she said.
Fines currently start from about $130 for riders who are not following the road rules.
"We need bigger fines for riders breaching the rules so that they act as a deterrent for doing the wrong thing," Ms Rothery said.
Ms Rothery said the speed limit should be reduced and age limit increased. It is currently 25km/h and 12 years plus while in Darwin it is 15km/h and 18 years.
Ms Rothery believes a 'one strike and you are out' approach should apply to e-scooter providers that don't maintain their e-scooters to an appropriately safe standard.
"I have seen the devastating impact that split second accidents can cause - there is opportunity here to balance the risks associated with growing e-scooter use with the benefits they offer in terms of transportation and recreational use," she said.
"Regional dwellers are often drawn to the opportunity to ride an e-scooter during big city visits. All e-scooter users should be aware of the risks, the rules and the liability issues with riding an e-scooter.
"There are serious concerns in relation to the absence of appropriate insurance coverage not only for riders of e-scooters but also anyone they injure or property they damage using an e-scooter. This is something that riders should be aware of before making the decision to use an e-scooter."
The company, Lime, has a statement on its website following court action from Australia's consumer watchdog, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, that it became aware of the 'sudden stopped issue' in November 2018.
It is said the issue had been diagnosed and the firmware had been updated.
Scooter hire was paused in March amid the coronavirus pandemic however relaunched this week.
A newer model of the e-scooters is now available and it has been ensured there will be more stringent safety incident reporting.