The latest provisional UK government data shows there were 12 people killed and 440 seriously injured in collisions involving e-scooters in 2022, and the number of accidents that go unreported or unrecorded for whatever reason is likely to be running into the thousands annually. With sales of the vehicles surging by 71% during the pandemic and police confiscating thousands of personal use e-scooters, these statistics are likely to get significantly worse before they get better as the country adapts to routine e-scooter use in public areas.
The latest data available shows that the three most common types of injury sustained in collisions involving e-scooters (to both e-scooter riders and other road users) are:
1) Shallow cuts/lacerations/abrasions
3) Sprains and strains
These injury types are classified as slight in terms of severity, however, the next five most common injury types, all classified as serious injuries, show the true level of risk for those involved in e-scooter accidents:
4) Fractured lower leg, ankle, foot
5) Other (non-severe) head injury
6) Fractured arm, collarbone, hand
7) Deep cuts, lacerations
8) Severe head injury, unconscious
So who is responsible for an e-scooter accident? If one of the vehicles is involved in an accident while riding above the 15.5mph speed limit, the rider will be breaking the law and therefore culpable. If an e-scooter is being ridden irresponsibly in a public space, for example, on a pavement, going the wrong way up a one-way street or riding through a red light, the rider will usually be responsible in the event of an accident.
Motorists may crash into an e-scooter if the rider pulls out in front of them suddenly, and if the rider’s actions made the accident unavoidable, the motorist would not be to blame. For collisions involving cyclists and e-scooter riders, liability will depend on the specific circumstances; in the event of a collision between an e-scooter and a pedestrian, the e-scooter rider will normally always be held responsible.
E-scooter riders are expected to have the same road sense and situational awareness as all other road users, and if they ride dangerously they will be legally liable for the consequences of accidents involving pedestrians, cyclists or motorists. Failure to stop will also aggravate an e-scooter rider’s culpability in the event of an accident.
Only e-scooters that are rented in one of the government’s 30 trial areas can legally be used on public roads in the UK, and only riders renting an e-scooter from a registered provider will be covered by public liability insurance in the event of an accident and a personal injury claim being made against them. Private e-scooter riders are not allowed to use the vehicles on public roads or pavements, and are not required to hold third party insurance, making compensation claims against them more difficult, but not impossible, depending on the specific circumstances of an accident and the rider in question.
The government has confirmed that the current rental e-scooter trials taking place across England will now be extended until at least May 31, 2024. Launched in 2020, the trials have already been extended a number of times and were due to end in November 2022.
It is likely that the use of private e-scooters on public roads will be legalised in the near future, as the government has already gathered information on e-scooter safety, and plans to create a "low-speed, zero-emission vehicle category" as part of a new Transport Bill. The government’s Transport Committee is enthusiastic about legalising the public use of private e-scooters due to their eco-friendly credentials, sustainability, affordability, and positive impact on traffic congestion. Legalisation will mean that all e-scooter riders will need insurance when using their vehicles on public roads and in public places.
Our client was a pedestrian who was standing in the road outside her local supermarket chatting to a friend, when she was struck by an electric scooter and knocked to the ground, sustaining a head injury and soft tissue damage and bruising to her upper body. Ms R later stated that she had no idea that the e-scooter was approaching her before the collision, because the vehicle was travelling fast and silently.
Ms R was taken to hospital following the accident where she was diagnosed with concussion and kept in overnight for observation. She was forced to take four weeks off work to recover from her injuries, which included private physiotherapy sessions to regain mobility in her upper body, and lost a significant amount of earnings as well as incurring costs for her medical treatment.
Ms R contacted Bartletts Solicitors after reading about our experience in e-bike and e-scooter accidents, and our firm went on to represent her in a no win no fee claim against the e-scooter rider. The claim was possible because the rider in question had rented his e-scooter from a rental operator (as part of one of the government-approved trials), and was therefore covered by insurance taken out by the operator.
In correspondence with the insurers, we pointed out that Ms R had been standing in a quiet area of the road at the time of the accident, and the e-scooter rider must have been riding in a careless and dangerous manner in failing to avoid colliding with her. Like all road users, e-scooter riders are expected to pay due care and attention, and meet the standard expected of a reasonably careful and competent rider. Following an admission of liability, our client received £4,750 in compensation.
If you are a pedestrian, cyclist or motorist and have been injured in an accident involving an e-scooter, contact our firm for expert legal advice from solicitors who are themselves cyclists with experience of e-scooters and e-bikes, and who have recently handled e-scooter accident compensation claims.