Electric scooters are now legal. But what happens if you are involved in an e-scooter accident?
Electric scooters are now legal on roads in Great Britain, but at the moment (July 2020) the law only permits rental companies to offer electric bikes. Privately owned e-scooters remain prohibited on public roads and cycle ways. Electric scooters are not allowed on pavements and have their speed limited to 15.5 miles per hour. Guidance published by the Department for Transport recommends that riders wear helmets. Riders must be over 16 and hold a full or provisional driving license.
While this change in the law is being hailed as an exciting and innovative way to ease pressure on public transport during the coronavirus outbreak, the move gives rise to questions about what would happen when an e-scooter accident occurs, leading to either the rider or another third party being injured. Specialist injury lawyer Elizabeth Duncan considers some of the legal issues regarding an e-scooter accident.
Injuries suffered by an e-scooter rider
The e-scooter rider will, in Elizabeth’s view, be classed as a “vulnerable road user”, like cyclists and pedestrians, due to the magnitude of harm that may be caused if hit by a motor vehicle. We may ultimately see an amendment to Highway Code to confirm this.
Anyone injured by a motor vehicle while riding an e-scooter will be entitled to claim compensation if the vehicle’s driver was at fault. The compensation would be paid by the driver’s insurer. There is a requirement for drivers of cars, vans, lorries etc to have compulsory third party insurance to meet compensation claims. If the vehicle is not insured the driver could be prosecuted, but compensation may still be available from the Motor Insurers Bureau.
Pedestrians injured in an e-scooter accident
However, what would happen if the e-scooter accident was caused by the scooter rider? What if a pedestrian suffers injury? Who will they be entitled to claim compensation from?
There is no requirement for compulsory third party insurance when riding an e-scooter. Some riders will be covered by existing forms of insurance, but not everyone will be insured. This means that a person who is injured by a careless rider may not be able to recover compensation, unless the rider themselves (assuming they can be traced) is good for the money.
This is likely to lead to great injustice, with innocent victims of e-scooter accidents losing out.
There are also concerns that rented e-scooters could be left abandoned in the street, causing trip hazards for pedestrians, particularly those with impaired vision. This was the experience in a trial scheme in Paris and if it happens here then lack of compulsory insurance will again mean that innocent victims of other people’s carelessness will be left with nowhere to turn.
If you have been involved in an e-scooter accident, whether as a rider, motorist or pedestrian, and want to know where you stand then get in touch with us for a free, no obligation chat on 0333 888 0404, or email [email protected]