In recent years, it has been hard to ignore the meteoric rise in the popularity of e-scooters in many cities across the world. In the UK, the Government are currently trialling e-scooters in 26 areas across the UK and they have become a staple in most major cities such as Bristol, London and Manchester offering a convenient and eco-friendly way to get around. However, e-scooters have posed a great number of legal issues since their inception with statistics published by the Department for Transport revealing that the number of people injured by, or when using, an e-scooter had almost doubled between 2021 and 2022, up from 228 to 429.
What is the legal position of e-scooters?
The law defines an e-scooter as a “powered transporter” under s185 (1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. As a result, e-scooters must comply with broadly the same requirements as a motor vehicle when being used on a public road, such as insurance and licensing, with some exceptions such as not being required to provide “L” plates when riding under a provisional license.
In addition, the use of e-scooters on pavements, pedestrian-only areas, cycle lanes and bridleways or restricted byways is prohibited by virtue of s21(1) and s34 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
Insurance, Illegality & E-Scooters
The insurance position for e-scooters such as those operated in the trial scheme is relatively straight forward. Generally, they are insured by the provider, such as companies like Voi, under a fleet insurance scheme. However, obtaining insurance for a private scooter can often be difficult and, in many cases, is an afterthought. This means that for somebody injured by an e-scooter the claim will often have to be made against the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB), which meets claims brought by uninsured road users. The MIB has been openly critical of the government’s perceived inaction on this matter stating that reform is needed.
If you are injured using an e-scooter
The Local Authority is under a statutory duty to maintain roadways and keep them in a condition that is safe for users. If you are involved in an accident arising, for example, from a pothole then you may be entitled to make a claim against the relevant highway authority for its failure to maintain the road. Similarly, a claim can be brought against other road users for collisions caused on the highway.
One factor to consider is that riding an uninsured e-scooter is a criminal offence and this may have potential consequences if the rider is injured in an accident caused by a 3rd party. The Defendant may raise the illegal act as a defence to a personal injury claim. However, in cases involving passengers in vehicles being driven illegally the courts have found that the illegal conduct was incidental to the claim and wasn’t the main issue causing the accident. It is unlikely that lack of insurance would of itself defeat an otherwise meritorious claim.
If you are injured by an e-scooter
The classification of e-scooters means that an accident involving them would be a Road Traffic Accident and the procedure to bring a claim is therefore the same as that required in a car accident. A claim will usually be brought against the individual at fault’s insurer. If the individual is uninsured then a claim can be brought against the MIB.
The law surrounding e-scooters is fast moving and often complex, largely stemming from laws which could not at the time of their inception, have reasonably envisaged the e-scooter as a mode of transport, yet alone foresee how popular they have become.
If you have been a victim of an e-scooter accident and suffered an injury, then we would be pleased to hear from you. We have a team of specialist personal injury lawyers and are able to accept instructions on a no-win, no-fee basis in appropriate cases. To contact the personal injury team please telephone 01752 246000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help.