Since 2019, e-scooters have been available for public use on Adelaide's footpaths as part of the trial program. Recently, the they have been extended to other metro council areas including the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters, Unley and Charles Sturt. However, it is currently illegal to ride privately owned public mobility devices, such as e-scooters, segways, and electric skateboards on public roads and footpaths under South Australian laws. Those who violate this may face fines of up to $2000. Despite the ban, e-scooters have become popular, leading to some people purchasing their own devices.
The South Australian Government is currently consulting with the community about possible changes to the laws relating to e-scooters. The changes include making privately-owned e-scooters street-legal, even though there are concerns about accidents involving pedestrians.
In the event of an accident, how can an injured pedestrian be compensated for their losses?
If a pedestrian is injured by an e-scooter participating in the current trial, they can bring a claim under the scooter company's public liability insurance. However, unlike motor vehicles, e-scooters do not require registration or hold Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance.
The absence of CTP insurance poses a problem because private e-scooter operators may not have their own public liability insurance policy. Although some may have coverage under their home and contents insurance, not everyone has that type of insurance. As a result, injured individuals may have no way to be compensated for their losses, unless they sue the at-fault rider to recover damages. Problems arise when the at-fault individual does not have sufficient assets to cover those losses, which may result in the injured person being under-compensated, or not compensated at all.
Difficulties may also arise when the rider's details cannot be obtained after an accident. Once the at-fault rider of an e-scooter leaves the scene, it would be near impossible to identify them and bring a claim under their public liability insurance policy or against them personally. Unlike motor vehicles, where a CTP claim can still be brought against the Nominal Defendant when the driver is unknown, this is not the case with e-scooters or other personal mobility devices.
If you have been injured by an e-scooter or a similar device, it is essential to collect the rider's personal information and promptly seek legal advice. It is a matter of ‘watch this space’ once privately owned e-scooters are out on SA streets and footpaths.