Uninsured E-scooters: What happens if I’m injured by an e-scooter?
Whilst it might be hard to believe for those living in towns and cities, private e-scooter use on public roads remains illegal. Stranger still then is the sight of countless shops selling private e-scooters to customers in the knowledge that they are most likely to be used in public.
That inconsistency leads, understandably, to confusion about what happens if you’re injured by an e-scooter or indeed if you injure someone whilst riding one.
Firstly, it’s worth pointing out why private e-scooter use on our public roads is prohibited.
The laws governing this area are old and arguably no longer fit for purpose given the modern modes of transportation now available. At the time when these laws were drafted and enacted, e-scooters and other lightweight electric modes of transport did not exist.
As it stands then, our law classifies e-scooters (and other powered light electric vehicles) as a motor vehicle. As such, the same legal requirements that apply to a car will apply equally to an e-scooter. That is to say, in order to be ridden legally on our roads, the e-scooter rider will require licence plates, lights and road tax for example. Furthermore, the law requires all motor vehicles to have at least third party insurance.
However, as current e-scooters cannot meet these legal requirements, this renders it effectively impossible for e-scooters to be insured for use on public roads.
It is worthwhile noting that if an e-scooter is hired as part of an approved trial programme currently in place across several counties in the UK, insurance is available and automatic on rental. For more information on the nationwide e-scooter trials, see my colleague’s blog here.
Does that mean I can’t claim if I’m injured by an e-scooter?
No, you can and should still claim.
If, for example, as a pedestrian you are injured by someone riding a private e-scooter, that rider is almost certainly uninsured. This is often, but not always, the case if you are injured by a bicycle too. However, unlike bikes, because e-scooters are deemed to be motor vehicles, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau or MIB will usually step into the shoes of a motor insurer and compensate the victim despite no policy of insurance existing.
The MIB is a body that exists to deal with claims where the Defendant driver or rider is either uninsured and/or cannot be traced. For this to work, all motor insurance companies are required to contribute to a central MIB fund.
This means many injured victims are able to recover compensation even though the Defendant did not hold insurance at the time of the accident. Without the MIB, an injured person might otherwise be left having to sue an uninsured driver and unless that person has sufficient funds or assets to satisfy the claim, they could be left without compensation and justice. For this reason the MIB plays an incredibly important role in our country and why those injured by an e-scooter should not hesitate in bringing a claim for compensation.
It is important to note that if you have injured someone whilst riding a private e-scooter on public land, the MIB is likely to pursue you for any funds paid out by them to the injured person. It is therefore far from a “get out of jail free card”.
I was injured whilst riding my e-scooter
If you are caught riding a private e-scooter in public, you are liable for prosecution because you will not hold a licence for riding this type of vehicle nor will you hold a valid policy of insurance.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that if you are injured by another’s negligent actions whilst riding your private e-scooter, you won’t be entitled to compensation. A common example might be where you are involved in a collision whereby a car pulls out in front of your path without due care or attention.
It is therefore important to enquire with a specialist personal injury solicitor so that the circumstances can be properly assessed.
Whilst the MIB is currently providing cover for uninsured e-scooter riders, this is unlikely to represent a long term solution. After all, unlike most motorists, e-scooter riders do not pay insurance premiums that in turn contribute to the central MIB fund.
Indeed, the UK government has already indicated its desire to reverse a vital European ruling that requires the MIB to compensate victims injured by vehicles on private land or vehicles, including e-scooters, which fall out of the scope of our domestic legislation. If this were to happen, injured victims might find the MIB will no longer step-in.
Given the scale and popularity of e-scooter use, it seems inevitable that the UK will ultimately follow in the footsteps of other countries and legalise their use on public roads. I believe the urgent need to get polluting vehicles off the road will outweigh the valid concerns that exist in respect of e-scooter use.
If this is to happen, the government is going to have to legislate to ensure that e-scooter riders are able to obtain third party insurance that will protect vulnerable road users when accidents do happen. Until then, the MIB remains a lifeline for injured claimants hurt by uninsured or untraced e-scooters and this must not be jeopardized by a change in governmental policy.