Release date: 20 December 2023

In the lead up to Christmas, leading Queensland compensation law firm Travis Schultz and Partners (TSP) is urging Christmas shoppers to be aware of the potential liability and costly consequences the gift of an e-scooter might have for a loved one.

While this may seem like the hot ticket gift this year, in Queensland, e-scooters are not required to have Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance so many don’t realise that in the event of an accident, the at-fault rider will likely have to pay injury compensation.

With some e-scooters reaching speeds of 80km per hour, the joy of racing along pedestrian footpaths and roads can quickly evaporate for riders who find themselves colliding with a pedestrian, cyclist or motorist.1

While the popularity of e-scooters soar, so do the injuries, according to the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit (QISU), who record an average of 100 new e-scooter patients each month. The 2023 count still in progress, however by July it was already near triple that recorded in 2019, with 716 e-scooter injuries admitted to emergency departments.2

With e-scooters set to be a Christmas favourite under the tree this year, Beth Rolton, Partner and Cairns leader at TSP, has some advice for those who happen to unwrap one of these shiny new toys on Christmas morning.

“Don’t assume you’re insured. Before you ride your new e-scooter out into the neighbourhood, check your personal health and domestic home insurance policies – but know the existence of relevant coverage is spotty, unreliable and has its limit,” Ms Rolton said.

“December’s silly season is a cumulation on our roads and footpaths of children on school holidays and people trying to get home from Christmas parties – all the makings of a perilous situation,” Ms Rolton said.

Chris Morrey, Associate Professor at Cairns Hospital and Cairns Private, says he has seen first-hand the consequences of dangerous e-scooter riding and the impact on innocent bystanders.

“In the last five years since e-scooters were legalised in 2018, we have seen a growing number of these injuries come through our emergency doors. Even more so, in the last 12 months, and it is an increasing safety concern for the clinical community,” Mr Morrey said.

“The injured party can be the rider, the passenger, or a pedestrian, but the most common we encounter, and the most serious, is the rider themselves. The injuries can range from fractured limbs to head injuries and when alcohol is involved, we see more facial fractures.”

Mr Morrey says that these injuries won’t be the last unless rider behaviours change.

“Often speed and alcohol or drugs are contributing factors to crashes. Riders need to take a mindset of responsibility when operating e-scooters, especially at this time of year when it is all too tempting to enjoy e-scooters as just a fun holiday experience.”

The state has taken notice and new laws were introduced into parliament in October this year by Transport Minister Mark Bailey. The laws propose hefty new penalties for careless riding on footpaths and bike paths, and for not meeting post-crash obligations that involve riders providing their details to those impacted after a crash.

Ms Rolton says “This means e-bike riders will have to stop at the scene of an accident and exchange details, just like a motorist or cyclist must. This could make all the difference in being held liable for your role in an accident involving you and your e-scooter.”

Since 2019, TSP has called for greater insurance options.3 Now, The Australian Lawyers Alliance is pushing for improved insurance too to adequately protect e-scooter riders and other members of the public.4

“While a solution in way of adequate insurance is currently being lobbied for, my hope is for greater prevention measures such as more education about the consequences of both careless and intentional dangerous riding,” Ms Rolton said.

“Here in the Far North, e-scooters are embraced as a more eco-friendly, economical, and efficient way to get around. There are many benefits, but we must ride sensibly and look out for each other on the roads and footpaths. So, if you’re thinking of gifting an e-scooter this Christmas, please do so with care.”

Queensland Government rules for personal mobility devices: