Skip to main content

Small wheels, big headache? E-scooters

Following a brief consultation, an e-scooter trial legal framework was published identifying how local authorities and rental operators can legally operate. As such, e-scooters, as part of the trial, were legalised on 4 July 2020 and some local authorities have already commenced their trials.

The introduction of a legal framework is undoubtedly a step in the right direction to ensure a “code of conduct” to protect the user, other road users and pedestrians. E-scooter trials: guidance for local areas and rental operators

How we can help

As a full service law firm, with a successful track record in insurance, local government (including commercial aspects) and regulatory work, we are best placed to deal with all of the issues arising out of these e-scooter trials.

We have been heralding this change in transport for some time. There is an opportunity for the key stakeholders to shape the legal landscape, particularly when it comes to the inevitable claims and technical insurance issues that will arise. 

Areas of expertise

  • Insurance

    Rental fleet providers will be required to provide insurance which is similar to schemes already operating in Paris, for example.  A minimum of third party cover only is required and almost certainly, driving an e-scooter without appropriate insurance  will lead to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau being called upon to compensate pedestrians, cyclists, other e-scooter users and motorists.  

    Our motor and technical team can advise on any aspect of insurance coverage and potential MIB involvement.

  • Claims

    E-scooter riders suffer much higher rates of head injury than pedal cyclists, with a high incidence of first-time users suffering falls. It is, therefore, surprising that helmet use is not mandatory and that no specific training is required, given that e-scooters are more unstable than a bicycle.

    Our motor and large loss teams can handle any claims involving e-scooters and ensure the interests of all parties are protected including indemnity spend. 

     

  • Local Government

    Any local authority considering participation in the trial rental scheme will potentially be introducing a new highway user to its network of maintainable highways. Consideration may need to be given to standards of repair and inspection regimes for the purposes of duties under the Highways Act 1980.  E-scooters have smaller wheels than bicycles and so could be more vulnerable to potholes.  There is also the potential problem of discarded and ’dockless’ scooters, particularly around popular docking zones such as those near busy train stations. This is an issue that can present a risk to pedestrians using the highway.  It appears local authorities will be required to regulate and this may be at significant cost in terms of road infrastructure changes and personnel.  For those who do not comply with the framework, who will enforce and will the policy of insurance cover those who injure pedestrians whilst travelling in a pedestrianised zone?  

    Our local government team is able to advise on liability, real estate or corporate and commercial issues involving local authorities. 

     

  • Criminal law

    E-scooters will almost certainly fall into the definition of a ‘motor vehicle’ for the purposes of the Road Traffic Act 1988, with riders involved in serious/fatal collisions, therefore, facing offences in line with those faced by other motorists.  These offences include death by dangerous driving which carries an immediate custodial sentence, with a maximum of 14 years imprisonment, an unlimited fine and obligatory disqualification.  Of the 32 injury collisions involving e-scooters in 2019 registered by the Met Police one third of these involved pedestrians. It is, therefore, vital drivers know the severe penalties and where necessary they have appropriate and early representation. 

    Our Criminal representation team is able to work closely with the relevant insurer and our motor and technical teams to ensure the interests of both the offending driver and the insurance company are protected.

     

Related articles

E-scooters – ”London calling”

The Government has responded but clarification still awaited on e-scooters…

“Cracking the Code” - the proposed changes to the Highway Code and what it means for vulnerable road users…

E-scooters – a further twist on the winding road

E-scooters….small wheels, big headache?

E-scooters – the future of commuter transport?

Jonathan Hodgkinson
Jonathan Hodgkinson

Partner

+44 (0)151 242 6900 Email Jonathan

Contact us



Be prepared.

Let our team of experts handle the initial legal challenges that may arise for you.

Contact us
Share on Twitter