Lawyer James Treloar calls for mandatory insurance as e-scooter injuries tipped to soar

Katrina Condie 12 January 2022 51
James Treloar from Maliganis Edwards Johnson

Maliganis Edwards Johnson lawyer James Treloar says the responsibility of e-scooter riders is an “untested and emerging area of the law in the ACT”. Photo: Maliganis Edwards Johnson.

A senior Canberra lawyer is calling on the ACT Government to make electric scooter insurance policies mandatory, with the soaring popularity of the devices expected to lead to a rise in injuries to innocent road users.

There’s been an increase in personal injury claims made against e-scooter riders around the world, and Maliganis Edwards Johnson (MEJ) lawyer James Treloar expects Canberra won’t be far behind.

“I anticipate this will be an emerging area of the law in the future because these things are heavy and fast – they’re a disaster waiting to happen,” he says.

James believes it should be compulsory for third-party insurance to be attached to each e-scooter, whether it’s a hired or privately owned device.

“Overall, I think there are a lot of positives with electric scooters – they are convenient and, if implemented and overseen correctly, they can be beneficial to the environment,” he says.

“However, if the government is allowing these vehicles on our roadways, including footpaths where there are pedestrians and other road users present, insurance should be mandatory.”

While some insurance companies do provide e-scooter liability cover as part of their home and contents insurance policies, the majority of people are scooting off without any insurance, leaving them personally responsible for any damage or injury caused to another person or property.

As a result of an accident involving an e-scooter, damages could include medical expenses, mental and emotional injuries, time off work, and could potentially extend to paying for help around the home, such as a cleaner.

“If the scooter operator hits a pedestrian and doesn’t have insurance, or can’t afford to pay compensation, that’s a significant financial burden to the person who is injured, through no fault of their own,” says James.

With more than 19 years’ experience working at some of Australia’s top law firms, and a member of the ACT Civil Litigation Committee, James says the responsibility of e-scooter riders is an “untested and emerging area of the law in the ACT”.

“As a general principle, the operator of a scooter owes a duty of care to other road users – which could include a car park or public footpath – and if they fail to steer or properly control their scooter, they may have breached that duty and can be held responsible for any damage they cause,” he says.

“However, claims against e-scooter riders can be complex and can depend on how fast the scooter can go, how large the engine is, where they’re being ridden, and whether they’re privately owned or one of the public scooters we’re seeing everywhere around Canberra.”

Man riding electric scooter by Lake Burley Griffin

Electric scooter injuries are becoming more common in Canberra, and there are calls for compulsory third-party insurance relating to their use. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

James says anyone injured in an e-scooter accident should, first and foremost, ensure their safety and seek medical assistance. If possible, they should also obtain the details of all parties involved, including any witnesses, as well as taking photos of the location and the scooter.

If it’s a public e-scooter, take a photo of the device’s identification number.

“As with any accident, safety comes first, but after the dust settles, any details that can be collected at the scene will help with a claim,” he says.

For almost 17 years, James has acted as a legal adviser for insurance companies so he knows how the other side thinks when it comes to claims.

“It’s definitely an advantage to understand what motivates both sides in terms of settling claims,” he says.

Electric scooter owners can check with their insurance company to see whether their device is covered under their home and contents insurance when off the premises. If not, some insurance companies now offer separate third-party insurance for e-scooters.

James holds degrees in law (hons) and science from the Australian National University, and a Master of Laws from Sydney University. He specialises in personal injury claims.

After being mentioned multiple times in the 2021 Doyle’s Guide as a ‘Preeminent Motor Vehicle Accident Compensation Lawyer’, ‘Recommended Work Injury Compensation Lawyer’ and ‘Leading Public Liability Compensation Lawyer’, he says “it’s nice to be recognised for working with vulnerable Canberrans and fighting to achieve the best results for them”.

Maliganis Edwards Johnson lawyers has seen an increase in enquiries regarding e-scooter claims and insurance responsibilities. James Treloar says anyone involved in an e-scooter accident can contact him for advice about their rights.

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51 Responses to Lawyer James Treloar calls for mandatory insurance as e-scooter injuries tipped to soar
Carol Chapman Carol Chapman 5:30 pm 13 Jan 22

Yes, they are really dangerous and should not be on footpaths.

John Edwards John Edwards 7:52 am 13 Jan 22

The insurance should be the responsibility of the hirer/rider but of course, that won't happen - too hard to enforce !!!!!!!!

John Edwards John Edwards 7:49 am 13 Jan 22

Already the rules of hire seem to be ignored when it comes to enforcement; no helmet, more than one rider, underage hirer, ignoring road rules etc etc. When used correctly probably a useful items BUT law makers need to simply sit in anywhere in civic for example (Canberra cbd) and observe. The stats for electric scooter non-compliance enforcement action would I suggest be very small.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 3:57 pm 26 Dec 21

“In the 12 months to June 2020, 48 cyclists died on Australian roads.”

The discussion is about e-scooters on footpaths shared with pedestrians.

Hrvoje Hančević-Grabić Hrvoje Hančević-Grabić 12:38 pm 26 Dec 21

I reckon we’ll need it for walking, jogging and basically anything other than using Barr’s tram.

kenbehrens kenbehrens 10:18 am 24 Dec 21

There is a glaring comparison between the arguments for insurance, licencing and registration of e-scooters and push-bikes.
Everyone has been startled by a push-bike riders passing them at speed on a footpath or seen them dodge in and out of tight traffic.
Yes, I know, the vast majority of push-bike riders are responsible. I suspect the vast majority of e-scooter riders are too.
Take a poll of road users and their thoughts on push-bike riders and their responses will be volatile.
Personally, I think the situationally hired e-scooters are an accident waiting to happen.
The Government now needs to decide whether the community risk/legal liability of e-scooters warrants action and if so, can they really avoid applying the same rules to push-bike riders?
I guess Pedal Power will have an opinion.

    Maya123 Maya123 11:10 am 24 Dec 21

    A high proportion of adult people who regularly cycle do have insurance. Any member of Pedal Power does.

Frank Trapani Frank Trapani 4:23 am 24 Dec 21

After mandatory insurance maybe there’s a mandatory registration fees??

Tim Mak Tim Mak 12:09 am 24 Dec 21

Licenses should also be necessary.

Kieren Reynolds Kieren Reynolds 3:32 pm 23 Dec 21

Exactly how many accidents have there been involving pedestrians?
Be great if ACT police could grab that stat sometime in the next 24 months

Sher Bee Sher Bee 11:50 am 23 Dec 21

Reduce scooter speeds from 25 to 20kms.

Marc Blackmore Marc Blackmore 4:18 am 23 Dec 21

Scooters can’t legally ride on roads unless there is no suitable path, why are bikes not including in this discussion?

    Frank Trapani Frank Trapani 9:47 am 24 Dec 21

    Marc Blackmore Do apples 🍎 🍎 and pears 🍐 🍐 look 👀 the same??

Ian McTaggart Ian McTaggart 11:15 pm 22 Dec 21

Third-party injuries caused by reckless scooter riders are certainly set to rise. Need to increase hiring costs to include appropriate insurance cover. Also need to regulate students signing off on the use of a scooter while it is locked in a school bike compound.

BaldingPhillip BaldingPhillip 11:03 pm 22 Dec 21

E-bikes are a way safer option (manoeuvrable, brake faster). If there are enough injuries on scooters that we need insurance, probably should ban them

Nathan Burraston Nathan Burraston 10:32 pm 22 Dec 21

I live at the foreshore. Nothing against scooters but I feel incredibly sorry for the owner of the ground floor unit near the Walt and Burley that have 40 of the things parked outsode their apartment every day with the after hours people lining them up while the scooters make the 'i am calling the authorities' sound system on repeat.

Also there is a blind man who takes an ice cream wagon to the foreshore to sell his goods, hats off to him navigating his bus with his cart with a cane but discarded scooters are often in his path.

I also walked out of the Kingston Hotel with a friend who got clipped by a scooter rider going full pelt on the foot path.

Scooters are all cool and that, but if a users carelessness causes a blind guy to falter on the footpath or collect an old person on a footpath, I think the user should be personally liable. They also shouldn't be lined up within 20 meters of someones place of residence.

    Colin Vivian Colin Vivian 8:35 am 23 Dec 21

    Nathan Burraston exactly. I know of one unit complex in Manuka where the building manager “kidnapped” a scooter left at the building entrance until the operators geo-fenced the area in front of their building. So, it can be done but the operators are too lazy to address the problem unless forced to.

Owen Harris Owen Harris 9:04 pm 22 Dec 21

Straight after registration for cyclists.

Gina Dow Gina Dow 7:02 pm 22 Dec 21

It’s time for Beam and Neuron to be penalised for leaving scooters in the way of people who use walkers and mobility scooters.

    Scott Abela Scott Abela 7:08 pm 22 Dec 21

    yep, it seems that mobility scooters, parents with prams, regular pedestrians are the lowest on the governments priority list these days. If you're not using a battery mined from big industry then you don't count apparently..

Scott Abela Scott Abela 6:40 pm 22 Dec 21

NSW has a different view on these scooters..

    JeeKay Dee JeeKay Dee 6:45 pm 22 Dec 21

    Scott Abela so ridiculous

    Scott Abela Scott Abela 7:21 pm 22 Dec 21

    JeeKay Dee yep, NSW doesn't like motor vehicles or recreation it seems..

    Darron Marks Darron Marks 11:29 pm 22 Dec 21

    JeeKay Dee yeah because they can't tax them yet 🙄

    Michael Weber Michael Weber 10:45 am 14 Jan 22

    JeeKay Dee confused, what is ridiculous that they are illegal in NSW or legal in the ACT?

    JeeKay Dee JeeKay Dee 12:32 pm 14 Jan 22

    Michael Weber illegal anywhere

John Hamilton John Hamilton 6:28 pm 22 Dec 21

Scooters have killed no one and only caused a few minor injuries.

Cars have killed hundreds in the ACT and caused thousands of life changing injuries.

I think further regulation on cars is more justified than changes to scooters

Tim Cole Tim Cole 6:27 pm 22 Dec 21

I'm good with that. I haven't found any policies that I can take out.

Nell Feneck Nell Feneck 5:44 pm 22 Dec 21

And push bikes 🚲

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