An e-scooter rider injured when he was overtaken by a London bus could emerge as a test case for establishing liability rules for accidents involving the vehicles ridden illegally on public roads.
London firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, representing the man, said the outcome of the case should go some way to determining riders’ legal rights.
The firm’s client, a man in his fifties, suffered multiple fractured ribs, a dislocated right shoulder and a collapsed lung when he was in contact with the wing mirror of a bus last summer.
The law states that a private e-scooter – as opposed to those that can be hired through official schemes– can be driven only on private land. That would appear to prevent anyone riding one who is injured on a public road from bringing a claim against a motorist.
BBK associate solicitor Ben Pepper said his client was wearing a hi-visibility jacket and a helmet when the incident happened and took reasonable precautions to ride his e-scooter safely. He told The Times that a cyclist with similar injuries would be able to claim for compensation and asked why the situation was different for someone on an e-scooter.
Pepper added: ‘We hope this case will help to give some clarity to the legal position for those injured in e-scooter accidents where the privately owned e-scooter was being ridden on a public road. But really we urgently need new legislation and we’re calling on the government to implement laws to make e-scooters safer for riders and other road users and to enable injured people to access compensation.’
Last month, the Department for Transport estimated that 750,000 private e-scooters were owned across England, based on survey results from its transport technology tracker.
There were 484 casualties in reported road accidents involving at least one e-scooter vehicle in Great Britain in 2020. Information held by the DfT provisionally indicates that 530 casualties were reported in the first six months of 2021.
In July last year, the government wrote to retailers with concerns that they were not providing clear, visible and consistent information to ensure customers understood the law.
Research from the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety found that over a four-week period in June last year in Bristol, 90 people presented to emergency departments in the city after e-scooter related incidents. Of those, 80% said they were riding hired devices, but PACTS said the fear of prosecution may have deterred riders from being honest about this.