E-scooters, NI law and compensation

9th February, 2023

E-scooters are an increasingly common sight in Northern Ireland especially in our towns and cities. They can be dangerous. Over the course of a year, there has been an 82% rise in ambulances attending e-scooter accidents in the UK. In the Republic of Ireland, two people died and more than 42 more suffered serious injuries in collisions with e-scooters between 2020-2022. Between January and July 2022 there were 453 e-scooter accidents compared to 640 for all of 2021 and 280 in 2020. Questions often arise about their use in Northern Ireland and what rights of compensation you have if hit by one.

The legality of e-scooters is not straightforward and we have attempted to set out below the current legal position regarding their use.

What are e-scooters?

Normally, they are fold up two wheeled vehicles with a handle bar for steering and a battery to power the vehicle.

Are e scooters legal in Northern Ireland?

In a public place, no unless it is adapted as a “legitimate motor vehicle” with insurance, registration, road tax and fitted with lights and a number plate. The user would also have to wear a safety helmet and other safety equipment. If these requirements are not met then use of an e-scooter is illegal and a criminal offence. They can be used on private land if the landowner permits it. In the rest of this blog, we will be referring to an e-scooter that is not a “legitimate motor vehicle.”

Are there any plans to make e-scooters legal in Northern Ireland?

The Government has indicated that they intend to legalise the use of e-scooters, albeit under strict conditions. However no legislation is currently under consideration in Northern Ireland.

Can I use an e-scooter on a bicycle lane?

No. It is unlawful to use an e-scooter in a public place. This means that it is illegal to use one on a road, pedestrian area, cycle lane or pavement – indeed in any public place.

Can my e-scooter be seized by the PSNI?

Yes, if used in a public place.

I was hurt in an accident when I was hit by an e-scooter on a public road. The e-scooter owner has no insurance. Do I have a claim for compensation?

Yes. You can pursue a claim for compensation against the Motor Insurers Bureau, the body set up by insurance companies to compensate victims of accidents involving uninsured or untraced vehicles. The MIB steps into the shoes of what should have been an insurer and will compensate the victim of an accident involving an e-scooter for their injuries. If the MIB did not exist then an injured person would have to pursue the uninsured driver of the e-scooter personally for satisfaction of any judgement for damages they obtain. There are strict reporting requirements in MIB cases and it is imperative you seek urgent legal advice.

I was hurt in an accident when I was on an an e-scooter on a public road. I was hit by a car. The driver had not been paying attention to the road and didn’t see me. The accident was his fault. Do I have a claim for compensation?

You are on a public road illegally when riding an e-scooter. The question is whether the illegal use of the scooter will stop you making a claim even though that illegality had no connection with the negligence of the driver that hit you. It would seem wrong that you could not make a claim for compensation although if such a claim was successful there may be a reduction in any damages awarded for contributory negligence. These types of cases will be largely fact driven and expert legal advice will be necessary on an individual basis to determine the likely chances of success.

What should I do if I am hit by an e-scooter?

  • Stop and remain calm.
  • Take the name, address and contact details of the driver of the e-scooter. If they have official means of identity such as a driving licence, take a photo of it.
  • If you have a camera, take photos of the e-scooter, the area where the accident took place and any other photos that may help.
  • If there are any witnesses, take their contact details.
  • If you have been hurt, seek medical attention.
  • Call the PSNI.
  • If the PSNI are not available, report your accident at the earliest opportunity to them and remember to take the name of the officer to whom you reported the matter and the reference number given to your accident.
  • See your solicitor.

The only complicating factor in an accident in a public place involving an e-scooter is the likely lack of insurance. This can be problematic if the driver does not have any assets. However the injured party can pursue a claim for compensation against the Motor Insurers Bureau, the body set up by insurance companies to compensate victims of accidents involving uninsured or untraced drivers. There are strict reporting requirements in these cases and it is imperative you seek urgent legal advice.

What compensation will I receive?

This will depend on the nature of your injuries and your financial loss. It will include:

  • Compensation for your injuries. The amount depends on how serious your injuries were and how long it takes you to recover from them. In Northern Ireland there are judicial guidelines that assist lawyers and judges in the valuation of injuries. We call this the Green Book  .
  • All your medical expenses, now and into the future.
  • Any loss of earnings, now and into the future.
  • The costs of any adaptions to your home or car because of your injuries.
  • Any care costs that have been or will be incurred because of your injuries.
  • Any other expenses.

How long do I have to make a claim?

Normally you have three years from the date of your injury. However:

  • If your child sustains injury, a claim can be made any time before the child reaches the age of 18. Once your child reaches the age of 18, they have a further three years to make a claim themselves until they reach the age of 20.
  • If the person who sustains the injury does not have mental capacity then there are no time limits.

Why instruct the Kearney Law Group?

We at the Kearney Law Group are ready to assist you and have the knowledge and expertise you need to make a successful claim for compensation. We have an expert team ready to deal with e-scooter accident claims.  We will advise you on the options available to you swiftly and professionally and ensure you recover proper compensation for your loss.

We only do personal injury law and are experts at it.

For further assistance please ring us at 02890 912 938 or email us on [email protected] or fill in our contact form

The content of this blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice. No solicitor/client relationship or duty of care or liability of any nature shall exist or arise between the Kearney Law Group and you and we refer you to our disclaimer on our website.

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