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, according to the Law Society Gazette of England and Wales.
London firm Bolt Burdon Kemp (BBK), representing the man, said that 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 Gazette says that, under current English law, 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 any e-scooter rider injured on a public road from bringing a claim against a motorist.
BBK associate solicitor Ben Pepper said that 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.”
He called, however, for new legislation 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 Britain in 2020.
In Ireland, a bill published by the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan last year was aimed at removing legal barriers to the use of e-scooters and e-bikes.
The Road Traffic and Roads Bill 2021 proposed the creation of a new class of powered personal transporters (PPTs) – including e-scooters. It will allow the minister to provide for the use of these vehicles in public places, under existing regulatory powers.
The bill completed its second stage in the Dáil in November and is due to go to Committee Stage.