Legalising the use of electric scooters and bicycles on footpaths is a recipe for disaster for our most vulnerable road users. It exposes pedestrians to unacceptable risks of injury and death which are not covered by CTP motor vehicle accident insurance such as the TAC.
The Queensland Government recently granted an exemption allowing electric-powered scooters to be used on footpaths, creating another dangerous obstacle for pedestrians. The decision allows scooter sharing company Lime to scatter the vehicles, which have a top speed of 27km per hour, around Brisbane. They are currently participating in a trial scheme in Adelaide which was initially granted for the period of the Adelaide Fringe Festival but now has an option to be extended by six months.
The company has also announced plans to introduce them into Melbourne, with a trial underway at Monash University. The same company has started distributing dockless electric bicycles around Sydney (top speed 23.8km/h).
Victorian Government now being lobbied to legalise scooter use on footpaths
About a dozen companies are now lobbying the Victorian Government and others to change laws allowing scooters to be used without a licence on footpaths.
Wherever you have different road users travelling at different speeds in different vehicles, you’re creating a potential risk, especially to pedestrians who are most vulnerable. Doctors in the United States, dealing with up to 1500 injuries per month caused by electric scooters, have stated that getting hit by someone at this speed is the equivalent of being hit with a baseball bat.
In addition to the physical risks associated with vehicles using footpaths and shared spaces, collisions involving the use of electric scooters create a significant problem of insurance and legal protections for victims.
What happens if I’m injured by an electric scooter on a footpath?
If you’re injured in an accident involving an electric scooter on a footpath, who foots the bill?
The user terms for Lime state that the rider has full liability for damage, loss, claims and lawyers costs for damage or injury to the rider or a third person. Worse, as the rider you indemnify the company (Lime in this case), meaning that if someone sues the company for a mechanical fault causing a crash, the rider might end up footing the bill.
Even if the brakes fail – the rider could be held responsible.
In Victoria, if you or someone else is injured in a motor vehicle accident, TAC insurance steps in and can pay compensation and benefits for wage loss, medical bills and expenses no matter who was at fault, and even if the person who caused the accident can’t be identified.
What types of claims are excluded by TAC?
The TAC doesn’t cover vehicles that can’t be registered; meaning that there might be no coverage if someone on a scooter hits you or if you fall off a scooter.
Claims against the rider can be made against some home and contents insurance, but otherwise compensation is paid out of the rider’s pocket. And if the rider has no insurance, no money, or can’t be identified: who will cover your medical bills and your time off work?
It’s important that you get legal advice after any injury caused by an accident, to make sure that you’re not missing out on any potential compensation and benefits that can help you get back on track.
If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a scooter or bicycle or other vehicle on a footpath, we can assist you with any questions you may have about your options. Feel free to get in touch directly with today’s writer, Nick Mann.