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E-scooters: how to stay off the naughty list this Christmas

Posted: 03/12/2021

Christmas is coming, and we wanted to let you know more about electric scooters (e-scooters) in case you are being begged to buy one as a present!

Did you know?

  • E-scooters fall within the legal definition of a ‘motor vehicle’ under the Road Traffic Act (RTA) 1988.
  • It is illegal to use them on public roads unless RTA requirements are complied with – namely tax, MOT, licensing, lighting, number plates and signalling capabilities.
  • It is also illegal to use e-scooters in spaces that are designated for use by pedestrians, cyclists, and horse-riders.
  • Government guidance on the use of e-scooters is available here.

Any person who rides an e-scooter on a public road or other prohibited space in breach of the law is committing a criminal offence, and can be fined, penalised, and prosecuted. The reality is, that unless the above legal requirements can be complied with, the use of e-scooters should be limited to private land with the permission of the landowner.

Rented e-scooters from a Government-approved organisation are insured by the organisations themselves. However, riders must have a full or provisional UK driving licence to hire one. During this national trial, the speed limit of rented e-scooters is set up to a maximum of 15.5mph.

What to do if you are injured in an accident involving an e-scooter

Unfortunately, there have been several incidents where e-scooters have caused serious injuries, either from riding one or being injured by an e-scooter as a pedestrian. In particular, many of us living in cities will have become increasingly aware of these vehicles. They are often ridden on pavements or in cycle lanes, and some of us may have witnessed near misses.

If an individual is injured while riding an e-scooter and it is someone else’s fault, a personal injury claim is more likely to be successful if the requirements listed above have been satisfied.

Should injuries be sustained while riding a privately bought e-scooter without insurance on a public road, it could be difficult to bring a claim against a negligent driver as they may be able to use the defence of illegality. This means that a claim can potentially be defeated if the claimant suffers an injury while performing an illegal act. However, it should be noted that there is currently no case law on the successful use of the illegality defence for those riding e-scooters.

Although wearing a helmet is not a legal requirement, it is strongly encouraged that riders wear them in case of an accident. Doing so may make a finding of contributory negligence against the rider less likely. Otherwise, the amount of compensation awarded in a personal injury claim, where the injury would have been avoided or lessened by the protection of a helmet, will likely be reduced.

There has unfortunately been an increase in the number of pedestrians being seriously injured as a result of being hit by an e-scooter. One of the first elements to consider when looking to bring a claim is the existence of any insurance, as this almost always makes a claim more viable. It may be possible to bring a claim against the insurers who provide the Government piloted schemes.

If the rider was using a private e-scooter without insurance, a claim can still be brought against the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB). Due to their classification as ‘motor vehicles’, claims can be brought under the MIB’s Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement 2015.

If you would like to talk to us about a potential personal injury claim involving an e-scooter, please get in touch with Georgia Hawken or Emma Tallick in our London personal injury team using the contact details provided.

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP