E-scooters – a cool, convenient and eco-friendly way to commute or a modern-day menace and fast-track to casualty?
The medical evidence to support the latter is certainly gaining momentum, with the UK’s Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety attributing ten deaths, 47 head traumas and 133 serious injuries to the battery-powered two-wheelers in 2021.
These statistics have since been underlined by the first medical study into the injuries suffered by privately-owned e-scooter riders, and the pedestrians struck by them, which found that many sustained “life-changing” wounds.
The research, published in the Royal College of Surgeons of England’s journal Annals this month [March 2022], also highlighted that a third of those arriving at hospital required surgery.
However, regardless of the risks – which are undoubtedly exacerbated by there being no legal requirement for riders to wear helmets or protective clothing – there is little sign of the brakes being applied to the acceleration in numbers of e-scooters on the roads of towns and cities.
It is estimated that there are now more than one million of them on Britain’s streets despite their public use only being permitted as part of active pilot schemes.
Major retailers are certainly culpable for fuelling the proliferation of e-scooters, having been seemingly slow in alerting consumers to the small print on packaging that highlights that the rapid rides can only legally be used on private property.
The widespread confusion over – or ignorance of – current legislation is also clouding people’s understanding of their eligibility to make a claim in the event of an accident. While anyone involved in a collision within one of the designated trial zones can seek compensation through the respective scheme’s insurance policy, those riding a privately-owned e-scooter – a non-rental – on public roads are extremely unlikely to carry any type of third-party insurance cover. Even if they did, it would not cover the use beyond that which is allowed by law, i.e. on private property.
In such an event, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians pursuing recourse would need to lean on an already over-stretched Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) – an often complicated and protracted process.
Riders in the wrong – in respect of taking to public roads using their own scooter – who do find themselves hurt because of another’s actions should not, however, immediately dismiss the prospect of financial recompense.
While insurers will be quick to cite ex turpi causa – a doctrine dictating a claimant is unable to benefit through the courts for a legal action that arises from their own illegal act – as a rationale for not coughing up compensation, they will not always be right to do so.
Like many aspects of law, the devil is in the detail.
Take, by way of an extreme example, a motorist behind the wheel of a car without a valid MOT certificate being hit head on by a vehicle travelling on the wrong side of a carriageway. The missing documentation does not automatically rule out compensation or clear others of any wrongdoing.
Fortunately, such nuances are well-known to the team at Accident Claims Lawyers, who have a long track record of bringing clarity to complex cases and securing settlements for deserving clients.
Also well-versed in steering cases through the MIB, the specialist solicitors are an ideal source of advice for anyone unfortunate enough to suffer injuries due to a collision with an e-scooter or who are injured while riding one.
For those whose lives are thrown off balance by the emergence of e-scooters, Accident Claims Lawyers will bring stability and peace of mind to their recovery journey.