Travis Schultz and Partners (TSP) Special Counsel Greg Spinda is warning of the potential liability and costly consequences of a popular Christmas gift.
While scooters are a hot ticket gift, e-scooters in Queensland are not required to have Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance so many don’t realise that in the event of an incident, the at-fault rider will likely have to pay injury compensation.
With some e-scooters reaching high speeds, the joy of racing along pedestrian footpaths and roads can quickly evaporate for riders who find themselves colliding with a pedestrian, cyclist or motorist.1
While the popularity of e-scooters soars, so do the injuries, according to the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit (QISU), which records an average of 100 new e-scooter patients each month. The 2023 count is still in progress, however by July was already nearly triple of that recorded in 2019, with 716 e-scooter injuries admitted to emergency departments.2
With e-scooters set to be a Christmas favourite under the tree this year, Greg has some advice for those who happen to have unwrapped one of these shiny new toys on Christmas morning.
“It’s a case of consumer beware – if you choose to ride an e-scooter out of your driveway on Christmas morning, you do so at your own risk,” he said.
“As there is limited insurance cover on offer for both private and hire scooters, riders could be left facing legal action directly by the people they injure and those whose property they damage.”
Greg said the worst incidents they saw as a compensation law firm were when riders had a passenger on board – made worse when the collision was with a pedestrian. It is against Queensland Road Rules to have a passenger on a scooter and the current fine is $154.
“Riding your e-scooter with a passenger multiplies the risk. In this scenario, the rider in control of the e-scooter could be liable for the injuries of two people – their passenger and the pedestrian,” he said.
“Without compulsory insurance for e-scooters, there is substandard insurance coverage and those injured by dangerous rider behaviour can be left severely financially disadvantaged, whilst they are already dealing with a substantial injury. They understandably look to seek compensation directly from the rider at fault, who themselves may face hefty financial consequences without adequate insurance.”
As a personal injury lawyer, Greg is witness more than most to the consequences of dangerous e-scooter riding and the impact on innocent bystanders.
“I have seen people end up with life-time impairments due to a moment of irresponsible behaviour by e-scooter riders. The extent of injuries that can be caused to pedestrians, and to riders themselves, when travelling up to 25km per hour is horrifying. And with some privately owned e-scooters reaching speeds of up to 80km per hour, the risk and severity of injury escalates. Behind every statistic is a real person,” he said.
He added that it was be aware of the new laws introduced into parliament in October this year. The Queensland laws propose hefty new penalties for careless riding on footpaths and bike paths, and for not meeting post-crash obligations that involve riders providing their details to those impacted after a crash.
“E-scooters are an innovative transport option reducing cars on the road and helping achieve emissions targets. However, they are still commonly seen as a toy, a fun holiday experience, and far too many people ride them thoughtlessly.”
E-scooters were legalised in Queensland in 2018 and since 2019, TSP has called for greater insurance options.3 Now, The Australian Lawyers Alliance is pushing for improved insurance too to adequately protect e-scooter riders and other members of the public.4
“While a solution in way of adequate insurance is currently being lobbied for, my hope is for greater prevention measures such as more education about the consequences of both careless and intentional dangerous riding.”
Queensland Government rules for personal mobility devices: https://www.qld.gov.au/transport/safety/rules/wheeled-devices/personal-mobility-devices
2 https://www.miragenews.com/racs-symposium-highlights-surge-in-e-scooter-1122756/ and https://www.surgeons.org/surgicalnews/Articles/2023/Volume-24/Issue-6/RACS-Trauma-Symposium#msdynttrid=_11ptjQnOh1cKRuopfofkswT-3vW1xmBh_cv-jATxlM