Despite the prevalence of e-scooters throughout Australia, legislative frameworks and insurance policies are yet to keep up with the protections that are needed to ensure that anyone injured by an e-scooter or while riding an e-scooter can receive fair compensation.

The ALA is calling for a detailed review of the insurance and regulation options for e-scooters and the development of a system that ensures all riders – e-scooter owners and those who hire e-scooters alike – have appropriate insurance cover. Action is needed to ensure that members of the public are not left without the ability to recoup compensation against an e-scooter rider because the e-scooter owner has no insurance or the exclusions existing within the commercial e-scooter operators’ insurance policies mean they are not covered.

The ALA strongly supports government and insurance companies reforming their respective legislative and policy frameworks to ensure that those who are injured by or while riding e-scooters are protected and adequately compensated.

  • The recent spate of serious injuries

    There has been a spate of very serious injuries involving e-scooters, and resulting claims, throughout Australia since 2018:

    • In Victoria, where e-scooter trials have been extended in Ballarat and Melbourne, e-scooter injuries increased by 234 per cent within the past year,1 with 535 people and 500 people presenting to St Vincent’s Hospital and The Royal Melbourne Hospital respectively since January 2022 with e-scooter-related injuries.2
    • Royal Perth Hospital in Western Australia reported 62 e-scooter patient admissions in 2022, and within the first two months of 2023 there had been 19 patient admissions related to e-scooter injuries.3
    • In Queensland, the Queensland University of Technology assessed almost 1,000 e-scooter-related presentations across three of Brisbane’s biggest hospitals, 37 per cent of which were fractures to mainly to the head and the arms.4 The Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit has found that, from a sample of 20 emergency departments across Queensland, there has been a yearly rise of e-scooter injuries from 2018 to 2023.5 Relatedly, the Jamieson Trauma Institute reported that workers’ compensation claims for e-scooter crashes had tripled, with 421 claims being made between 2018 and 2022.6
    • From 1 January to 31 March 2023, authorities in South Australia reported 11 e-scooter injuries in Adelaide, prompting serious concerns within Adelaide City Council about extending Adelaide’s e-scooter trial (which has been running since February 2019) without the South Australian government reforming legislative insurance requirements.7
    • One-third of 135 e-scooter injury presentations to emergency departments in Tasmania during the first six months of the Hobart e-scooter trial (December 2021 to June 2022) required “operative interventions”.8
    • In the Northern Territory over an eight-month period to September 2021, 111 emergency department presentations were related to e-scooter usage – including brain bleeds and broken spines.9
    • While statistics are not readily available for the Australian Capital Territory, there have been media reports of increased hospital admissions due to incidents involving e-scooters.10
    • In New South Wales, there have also been numerous media reports of deaths and serious injuries from accidents involving e-scooters.11
    1 Cara Waters, ‘Hospitalisations involving e-scooter riders up 234 per cent in a year’, The Age (online, 27 November 2022).
    2 Cara Waters, ‘Doctors warn of serious injuries as e-scooter crash presentations spike’, The Age (online, 25 October 2023)
    5 Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, ‘RACS Trauma Symposium explores concerning rise in e-scooter injuries’ (Media Release, 14 November 2023)
    6 Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, RBWH Foundation research shows more e-scooters crash in morning (Web Page, 7 March 2023) .
    7 Thomas Kelsall, ‘End of the road threat for city e-scooters as council puts foot down’, In Daily (online, 24 May 2023) .
    8 Jennifer Jamieson, Jenni Hawkins, Clare Collins and Adam Mahoney, ‘The rise and falls of electronic scooters: A Tasmanian perspective on electronic scooter injuries’ (2023) 35(1) Emergency Medicine Australasia, 159-161 .
    10 Beatrice Smith, What a lawyer wants you to know about riding an e-scooter in the ACT (Blog post, 7 July 2023) .
    11 Egs, Nine News, ‘Teen in hospital after e-scooter collides with car in Sydney’ (online, 15 June 2023) ; Nine News, ‘Sydney man critical after his e-scooter crashes with taxi’ (online, 4 January 2023) .
  • Options for those injured by or while riding e-scooters

    Currently, gaps in insurance coverage have meant that those injured by or while riding e-scooters are not eligible to recover compensation.

    This can leave people injured by or while riding e-scooters in a financially precarious position, especially where the rider does not have CTP insurance (which is largely not required in Australia). Riders can thus only rely on personal insurance, and anyone else injured must rely on loss of income insurance and/or the ride having third party insurance. The ALA submits that, especially given the age of those riding e-scooters generally, only a small group of Australians will be adequately covered by insurance.

    Though many commercial providers have recently updated their insurance policies to provide users wider scope, accidents involving any illegality are uncovered.11 There are also gaps within many government-regulated compensation frameworks affecting recovery of compensation.12

    11 There previously were also many exclusions within commercial provider insurance policies of which were arguably arbitrary. For example, policies that excluded any rider who used headphones while riding. However, this has since been removed in most if not all policies.
    12 For example, TAC excludes e-scooter injuries as they are not considered a motor vehicle: Transport Accident Commission, e-scooters (Web Page, 2023)
  • Recommendations to protect those injured by e-scooters

    The ALA proposes the following reforms for consideration by state and territory jurisdictions across Australia, where applicable:

    • Government- and council-run e-scooter hiring trials should be comprehensively reviewed before being extended and certainly before any e-scooter hiring programs are made permanent, to ensure that the general public is safe when hiring e-scooters and that those riding them are properly insured.
      • Approvals for e-scooter programs or areas where e-scooter riding (via commercially-hired e-scooters and/or privately-owned e-scooters) has been allowed should be regularly reviewed.
      • The reviews recommended above should all assess whether:
        • riders and the general public are safe, including in terms of injuries and deaths, and that safety requirements for riders, such as wearing helmets, are enforced by commercial e-scooter hire companies and also by local authorities;
        • riders are covered by adequate insurance coverage; and
        • legislation, regulations and road safety requirements are up-to-date to ensure safety in relation to e-scooter programs and areas where people can hire/ride e-scooters, and that unsafe behaviour can be responded to (for example, with fines).
    • Relatedly, it must be mandated in all states and territories that commercial e-scooter hire companies offer high-level insurance, which covers both riders and any injured members of the general public.
    • It must be mandated that private owners of e-scooters have insurance, including third-party insurance, especially if/when they are able to ride their e-scooter on public roads and in public areas.
    • Any remaining loopholes for those injured on bikes/e-bikes as compared with e-scooters should be closed.
  • Case law and related resources

    CFD v AAI Limited t/as AAMI [2023] NSWPIC 592

    Please email Elenore Levi, ALA Policy and Advocacy Officer, at elenore@lawyersalliance.com.au with any cases or determinations made concerning e-scooters and related devices.

Legislative, regulatory and insurance approaches across Australia

The following table summarises the relevant legislative, regulatory and insurance approaches to e-scooters across every state and territory jurisdiction in Australia, in conjunction with the Australian Road Rules framework:

Click here or on the graphic below to view the table.