Confusion around legality of E-scooters may leave injured pedestrians without recourse | Fieldfisher
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Confusion around legality of E-scooters may leave injured pedestrians without recourse

Dushal Mehta
As several London boroughs join Newcastle, Bristol, Bournemouth and other cities to offer e-scooter rental schemes, confusion around what is and is not legal will likely mean that pedestrians and other road users injured by reckless e-scooter riders, as happened to the toddler injured in Lambeth recently, may have nowhere to turn.

The public may not be aware that it is illegal to ride privately owned e-scooters on the roads in London. These type of scooters can only be used on private land, with the permission of the landowner. The only e-scooters that can be ridden on public roads are those rented as part of the government-backed trials in certain boroughs.

There is currently no specific law for e-scooters, which are considered 'powered transporters' and fall within the same laws and regulations as motor vehicles. They are subject to all the same legal requirements - MOT, tax, licensing and specific construction. Riders need a full or provisional driving licence to use a trial e-scooter and are insured by the operator.

The problem is, because personal use electric scooters are not currently road legal in the UK and may not be ridden in public, insurance is not necessary. In any event, most major insurance carriers will not cover riders of privately owned scooters.

Legal but reckless e-scooter riders, if they are caught, face a fine of £300 and penalty points on their licence plus the e-scooter could be impounded. Illegal e-scooter riders face criminal prosecution, regardless of how they are riding. But someone seriously injured by a personal use e-scooter illegally on the roads will have no at-fault insurer from which to claim damages.

To add to the mix, low-speed electric bikes (e-bikes) can legally be ridden anywhere that conventional bikes are allowed, so long as the bike has pedals that propel it, an electric motor that will not assist when travelling more than 15½mph and the power does not exceed 250 watts.

Riders of e-bikes that do not exceed these power limits do not need a licence, pay vehicle tax, take out insurance or wear a helmet. If an e-bike exceeds these limits, it is classed as a motor vehicle, much like an e-scooter.

Considering that personal use e-scooters can travel up to 65 mph (and regulated e-scooters up to 15 mph) they have the potential to inflict serious harm. Similar to an uninsured cyclist, though, unless the e-scooter rider has substantial assets, a personal injury lawyer has nothing to claim against on behalf of an injured client who may desperately need expert medical care and ongoing rehabilitation.

Read more about road traffic accident claims.