Prominent Queensland compensation lawyer Travis Schultz has warned that pedestrians may be the biggest losers from the uptake of Lime electric scooters, and has called for the company to provide public liability insurance that covers both the rider and footpath users.
“Lime is valued at more than a billion dollars yet by not insuring their e-scooters they are effectively passing the unintended consequences of their business model onto the public purse,” the principal of Travis Schultz Law said.
“The risk of injury to innocent users of the footpath is enormous, not to mention the flow-on cost to our already overburdened health system.”
Under Queensland law, “walking speed” vehicles with an output of up to 200W and maximum speed of 10km do not need to be registered. However, despite being powered by a 250W electric motor and capable of speeds of up to 27km, a provision to class the e-scooters as a “personal mobility device” has allowed Lime to dodge registration and Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance cover.
“We wouldn’t allow an uninsured motorcycle or motor scooter to travel on the footpath, yet the introduction of this new ridesharing technology has forged ahead, with little thought to the consequences if someone is injured,” Mr Schultz said.
While the relevant legislation was amended in December 2018 to improve pedestrian safety, Mr Schultz said the new laws were “vague, subjective and open to interpretation”.
“They do not spell out what constitutes reckless behaviour, or quantify the precise speed or sufficient distance needed ‘to allow for safe stopping’,” he said.
Although enforcement of speed and helmets is a State Government issue for the Police, it fails to deal with the consequences of injuries suffered by other users of the footpath when an e-scooter is at fault.
“The reality is that Lime riders are uninsured unless they happen to have their own personal liability insurance policy. Given the number of accidents occurring, how long will it be before the price of Home and Contents insurance is jacked up and the general public has to bear the increasing costs to cover this growing area of claims?
“Another major concern, because the e-scooters are not covered by CTP insurance, is that injured pedestrians may be left seriously out of pocket with no legal recourse against a negligent rider who can’t afford to pay damages.”
Mr Schultz believes the simple solution would be for Lime to provide its customers with some form of public liability insurance that would protect both the rider and the victim in the event of an accident.
“At least that way, the general public and our health system wouldn’t be burdened with the cost of injuries incurred by Lime’s profit-making enterprise,” he said.