12 January 2022

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

| Katrina Condie
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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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Capital Retro3:57 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.

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.

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

Kieren Reynolds3:32 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

BaldingPhillip11:03 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

Linda Seaniger3:38 pm 22 Dec 21

Does that also mean that bike riders is on shared pathways are liable for any injury caused to pedestrians.?

Capital Retro7:56 am 22 Dec 21

“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.

Then who’s fault is it? Clearly it is the 100% renewable energy obsessed government’s fault for approving their use and the devices should be banned immediately.

On what basis should they be banned immediately, beyond your hate for anything that can possibly be linked to renewable energy CR?

There are clear issues to be addressed – as detailed in this article, and others in recent times.

But I see no basis on which they should be banned – and that is irrespective of motive power source. If properly regulated (that is the real issue here – not the item in question itself) they can form part of a variety of options out there for people to get around.

Should cars be banned immediately because there are people out there that do the wrong thing and aren’t insured and so would face?

Too often ideological hate is used to justify almost anything by some on here.

Capital Retro6:05 pm 22 Dec 21

Because as I understand it the ACT government carries its own liability insurance and when a couple of people get maimed and multi million dollar settlements result you and I are going to underwrite that.

That may be OK with you as you are always apologizing for the stupid things this government does.

Or you know, they could just mandate that the companies must provide appropriate insurance as part of their model……. it’s not a difficult problem to overcome.

Your just averse to any change that’s all, and will argue about everything and anything. I’m no fan personally of e-scooter in that I have zero interest in using them, but others do. There is zero reason to ban them if simple changes are made to regulate them correctly.

A

How on earth have you linked the use of motorised scooters to renewable energy.

What a strange obsession you have.

Capital Retro12:18 pm 23 Dec 21

Not only me linking the two things chewy, Shane Rattenborogh said :”E-mobility provides new and convenient options for travel. They let people leave the car at home, and are easily combined with public transport. With the ACT achieving 100% renewable electricity they can be recharged using clean energy and free of greenhouse gas emissions.”

And I know you insist on a link so here it is: https://www.cmtedd.act.gov.au/open_government/inform/act_government_media_releases/rattenbury/2019/start-your-scooters-e-scooters-and-similar-devices-legalised-in-act

OK?

Capital,
So because Rattenbury makes a throwaway line around how they will be powered as part of a wider discussion on their introduction, you think they are obsessed about renewable energy and it needs to be referenced in a discussion around insurance?

If you think the government is obsessed on the issue, what do you think that makes you?

Capital Retro3:04 pm 23 Dec 21

You are the undisputed king of spin, chewy and while I was going to say “I just made a throwaway line” too, I won’t because it is time you accepted that even obsessed experts like you make the occasional mistake and for once you need to acknowledge that.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas to you.

Capital Retro,
Except it was your first amd only description of the government whereas Rattenbury’s comments were detailed and wide ranging around the introduction of scooters.

I also noticed you didn’t answer my question but no mind, I’ll let it slide. We both know the answer.

And Merry Christmas to you too, perhaps you could go for a drive this evening and enjoy the local Christmas lights?

They’re 100% renewable powered you know.

Capital Retro6:25 pm 23 Dec 21

“They’re 100% renewable powered you know.”

At least you have a good sense of humour.

And those residential Christmas lights should be banned too.

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