Electric scooters became all the rage back in 2017 and have been top of the Christmas wish list for many a person ever since. A welcome change from computer games and digital devices, e-scooters, hoverboards and Segways have become increasingly popular for offering some outdoors activity. However, they carry a risk of potentially serious injury.
If you have been injured after using an e-scooter or by someone else riding one, get in touch with an expert legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438. They’ll be able to answer any of your questions and can pass you on to a specialist solicitor if they think you could claim.
It’s perhaps surprising to know that it is still illegal to ride e-scooters on public roads and footpaths in the UK. E-scooters, along with hoverboards and Segways, are illegal because these so-called ‘powered transporters’ are classed as motor vehicles under existing law. This means they are subject to the requirements of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
However, e-scooters are increasingly a common sight across many European cities and have, in recent months, been trialled in many UK cities under an important pilot scheme. This trial, under which rental operators are allowed to rent out e-scooters to users aged 16 or older with strict conditions, has been deemed necessary because e-scooters, along with hoverboards and similar vehicles, are dangerous and pose a new injury risk.
But with the need to tackle both increasing congestion and pollution in our towns and cities, government is considering how best to legalise e-scooters in the UK. How government will propose legislating to allow the general use of these modern vehicles on our public roads and footpaths will depend much on its evaluation of the pilot scheme when it ends in summer 2021.
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You can make your injury claim on a no win no fee basis which means if you don’t win, you don’t have to pay any money out.
When you speak with a legal adviser, they’ll be able to let you know whether they think your e-scooter injury claim will be successful. But if you don’t end up getting any compensation, a no win no fee promise means that you won’t have to pay your injury solicitors any money.
With no win no fee, there aren’t any upfront charges or hidden costs either. If you do win your case, your personal injury solicitor will charge you a ‘success fee’ as a percentage of the compensation you receive, but this will only take up a maximum of 25% – so you’ll still get to keep most of it.
The use of e-scooters and similar ‘vehicles’ pose a potential risk of serious injury and even death for the unsuspecting. They are largely untested, and e-scooter users are often oblivious to the risks posed to themselves and to other road users and pedestrians. In September 2020, a leading neurosurgeon reported that e-scooters are responsible for a growing number of serious injuries to individuals being brought into the Royal London Hospital for emergency treatment.
The tragic case of YouTuber Emily Hartridge illustrates the risks: she had been given an e-scooter as a gift and on her first ride out on it in July 2019, she was thrown off into the path of a lorry and died. It emerged that the e-scooter had an underinflated tyre and she had been driving it too fast.
The risk of a head injury if you ride an e-scooter is high. During the current trials, it is not mandatory to wear a helmet (though it is recommended). Training is not obligatory before someone can rent an e-scooter from the operator. However, government recommends that e-scooter rental companies offer training courses to users. It is not hard to see how not wearing a helmet and or a lack of training before someone uses an e-scooter raises the risk of potentially serious injury should an accident occur.
In the US (where the public use of e-scooters is legal), a study revealed that nearly a third of patients admitted after an e-scooter accident suffered head trauma – more than double the rate of head injuries to cyclists.
There may also be problems with signalling capabilities, poor tyre pressure and technical issues that could increase the risk of an accident.
Vulnerable people are greater risk – an issue that has been recognised fairly late in the day. At the end of October 2020, for instance, following concerns raised by charities for the blind about the silent threat of e-scooters to blind pedestrians, it was reported that from 2021 some e-scooters will be fitted with alerts to automatically warn pedestrians of their approach.
If you have been injured in an incident involving an e-scooter, you may be able to claim injury compensation. However, you will have to prove that someone else was negligent and that your injuries were reasonably foreseeable as a result of that negligence or a breach of duty towards you.
An expert legal adviser will take full details about the incident and advise you if you have a claim. You can contact an adviser for free on 0800 234 6438, or fill in the call-back form on this page.
Your e-scooter compensation claim will need to be brought against the responsible person or organisation depending on the circumstances. If you were the user of a rental e-scooter and you believe the e-scooter was in a poor state of repair or faulty in some way, the claim will be against the rental company/operator.
Other potential defendants include the e-scooter rider themselves; the driver of another vehicle; a pedestrian; a bus company; or even the local authority if, for instance, the road was dangerous and you rode into a pothole on an e-scooter.
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To make a successful personal injury claim, remember that you will need to prove on balance that the defendant was negligent and that this caused your injuries.
E-scooters can reach dangerous speeds, but on public roads their speed limit is strictly limited to 15.5mph under the ongoing trials. If the user exceeded that speed and you can prove this (which may not be a simple task), it can be much harder to brake and slow down thus increasing the risk of an accident.
When you think that most e-scooter users are both inexperienced and vulnerable road users compared to other vehicle drivers, it is not difficult to see how accidents can be caused if they are not careful.
Other risks posed by users include weaving between or in front of other vehicles, riding with a passenger (which is illegal), wearing headphones or looking at mobile phone while riding, and being clearly distracted such that they were driving carelessly.
If your injury claim will be against the operator after an e-scooter accident, your adviser should consult the Department for Transport guidance for e-scooter hire firms. This should help determine whether the operating company who hired out the e-scooter may have departed from the guidance, and if so, without good reason.
The fact that the government recommends but does not mandate that training is provided could be taken into account if training was not in fact given. However, it will really depend on the particular circumstances of your case.
It is illegal to ride an e-scooter in public under existing rules, unless it is rented out under the ongoing pilot in accordance with the regulations. So if you have been injured following an incident involving an illegally ridden e-scooter, you could end up with no compensation. This is because they are likely not to have suitable insurance cover.
If you have been injured as a pedestrian, you can make an injury claim against the e-scooter user, but if they have no money or assets it may be fruitless and you could be left with no compensation.
In any instance, it is best to check with an injury solicitor who will be able to advise you on the options available.
If you have been injured by an e-scooter user, whether or not on a public road, the police are likely to be involved if it is suspected a criminal offence has been committed. For example, if the e-scooter was being ridden illegally or if it was a rental e-scooter being ridden in blatant disregard for the conditions of use.
In such cases, the fact that a police investigation has taken place and, for example, the user may even be charged with an offence, will amount to strong evidence in support of your injury claim.
If you have been injured after riding an e-scooter, or having been hit by an e-scooter because of someone else’s negligence, you can claim compensation. If you haven’t yet seen a doctor, make sure you get medical help as soon as you can as the medical notes and records will be vital to your claim.
In addition, collect all the evidence you can such as photographs of the location and the e-scooter; photos of your injuries; details of witnesses; records from the rental operator’s accident log book; police incident reports; and so on. You should also write a detailed account of what happened as soon as possible while your memories are fresh.
It is important to obtain legal advice as soon as possible because the time in which you can make an injury compensation claim is limited. If you are 18 or older, you have 3 years in which to start your claim, otherwise you may lose the chance to claim compensation. If the injured person is under 18, you have longer to claim because this 3-year period does not start to run until their 18th birthday.
We recommend you speak to a personal injury lawyer about pursuing compensation. Most will work on a no win no fee basis, which mitigates the financial risk of making a legal claim.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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