written by Isabelle Mayhead, Paralegal, Serious Injury
The number of e-scooters on our roads and pavements has increased significantly in the last three years, but what are the ramifications for the e-scooter rider and other road users? Isabelle Mayhead, Paralegal in our Serious Injuries team, discusses the continually evolving complexities of e-scooters.
In the UK, e-scooters are becoming increasingly commonplace, especially in large cities such as London, Cardiff, Bristol and Manchester.
In July 2020, the UK Government introduced e-scooters on roads in England, specifically in cities, under trial rental schemes. The trials were due to end in November 2022, but have been extended until May 2024.
France was the first country to introduce a rental e-scooter scheme back in 2018, but the five-year experiment in Paris has been fraught with controversy.
The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) estimates that around a million private e-scooters have been imported into the UK over the last three years . This is believed to be significantly underestimated due to being based on documented importations. The Government is unable to quantify how many e-scooters are in use illegally; un-registered and un-regulated.
Despite their significant use, most people are unaware that it is illegal to use a privately owned e-scooter on public roads and if you use an e-scooter illegally you could face a fine, get penalty points on your driving licence and the e-scooter could be impounded.
What happens if you are injured by an e-scooter or as an e-scooter user by another road user?
In cases where injuries occur and there has been negligence on the part of the other road user, the injured e-scooter user may be able to bring a claim against the other road user. Claims can also be brought against the local council in cases where injury is caused by dangerous and/or defective road surfaces such as potholes.
In cases where the e-scooter rider is at fault and causes injury to another road user or a pedestrian, the ownership of the e-scooter must be considered when bringing a claim. If the e-scooter was being rented as part of a government rental scheme, a claim could be brought against the insurer of that rental scheme. If the e-scooter was privately owned and uninsured, a potential claim could be brought against the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB). The MIB will consider such claims and may act as the insurer in claims against uninsured motor vehicles. However, it is important to note that the MIB is not required to cover claims where collisions occur on private land and involve privately owned e-scooters (Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Act 2022).
E-scooter injuries | The figures
Neurosurgeons report that e-scooter injuries are more akin to motorcycle accidents than pedal cycle accidents . Under current legislation, use of helmets is not a legal requirement of e-scooter riders, including those who rent e-scooters from a government scheme. There have been many calls for helmets to become a legal requirement, as they are for motorcycle users. PACTS identified that between 2019 and 2023 there have been a total of 34 reported deaths on e-scooters in the UK. Privately owned e-scooters were involved in 27 of these fatalities . This is a very concerning statistic given that the use of private e-scooters on public roads is illegal. Further, in the year ending June 2021, there were 1,033 casualties in collisions involving e-scooters. Of these casualties, there were four fatalities and 288 individuals were seriously injured. There were 1,437 casualties reported in the year ending June 2022, with 12 fatalities and 429 individuals seriously injured.  PACTS report that 38% of e-scooter collisions involve serious injuries such as traumatic brain injury.
In 2021, data produced by the Department for Transport reported that e-scooters were involved in roughly 13 casualties per million miles, about three times higher than the rate for pedal cycles.  E-scooters are significantly more unstable than pedal cycles and motorbikes due to their small wheels, causing instability when travelling at speeds of less than 14mph. They are also more vulnerable to uneven road surfaces, such as potholes, which is a contributing factor to the higher rate of accidents. E-scooter schemes and private use is a widely debated topic for these reasons, with many claims being brought for accidents involving e-scooters resulting in often serious and sometimes life changing injuries.
What does the future hold?
Interestingly, France, the first European country to introduce a scheme, has recently become the first country to ban e-scooters after years of criticism and safety concerns. This may serve as an indication of the limited time rented e-scooters will continue to be used as a means of transport in UK cities.
We shall continue to monitor the situation regarding e-scooter collisions and provide updates in due course.
 The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, ‘The Safety of Private E-Scooters in the UK’, Final report, March 2022
 Final data from Department of Transport updated 29.09.2022
 Based on 2021 DfT statistics. Casualty rates based on the user survey were not calculated due to the small sample and differences in methodology