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 for the fourth time,1 there has been a doubling of hospital presentations for e-scooter related injuries in 2023 – with almost 1000 people rushed to Victorian emergency departments during the course of the year.2 A study examining data from the Royal Melbourne Hospital in the year to January 2023 found that the total hospitalisation cost for the hospital was more than $1.9 million, with a median cost of $1,321.66 per patient.3
    • 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.4 St John WA reported that ambulance callouts had increased by more than 60 per cent in 2023 for e-scooter related incidents; 5
    • In Queensland, e-scooter related presentations to hospitals have been rising – from 279 in 2019 to 801 in 2023.6 Joint research conducted by the Jamieson Trauma Institute (funded by the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital Foundation and the RACQ) found that 50 per cent of e-scooter related patients incurred head and facial injuries.7 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;8
    • In the city of Adelaide in South Australia, there were 14 reported e-scooter injury related incidents in 2023, 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 – this is unlikely to occur until at least early 2025;9
    • 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”;10
    • 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.11
    • 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.12 A clinical study conducted by two doctors from Brindabella Orthopaedics found that there were 520 presentations related to e-scooters between July 2020 and July 2021;13
    • In New South Wales, there have also been numerous media reports of deaths and serious injuries from accidents involving e-scooters.14
    • The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) published a statement on 29 January 2024 highlighting that nationally, “Australian official road deaths are failing to accurately record deaths and injuries among e-scooter riders because of glaring inconsistencies in data collection and reporting between states and territories.”15 This highlights that the numbers of deaths and injuries as a result of e-scooters could be far more than is known and reported currently.
    1 Cara Waters, ‘Hospitalisations involving e-scooter riders up 234 per cent in a year’, The Age (online, 27 November 2022); Premier of Victoria, Honourable Jacinta Allan MP, ‘Making E-Scooters Safer’, (4 April 2024)
    2 Henrietta Cook, ‘Brain Injuries and smashed teeth: Hospitals grapple with doubling in e-scooter injuries’ The Age (online, 12 February 2024)
    3 Jevan Civik et al, ‘The impact of electric scooters in Melbourne: data from a major trauma service’ (2023) 94(4) ANZ Journal of Surgery 572, 572.
    5 Caleb Runciman, ‘New figures reveal St John WA rushed to record number of e-scooter incidents last year’, The West, (online, 27 April 2024)
    8 Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, RBWH Foundation research shows more e-scooters crash in morning (Web Page, 7 March 2023)
    9 Thomas Kelsall, ‘End of the road threat for city e-scooters as council puts foot down’, In Daily (online, 24 May 2023); Thomas Kelsall, ‘South Australia’ e-scooter laws might not change until 2025’, In Daily (online, 20 February 2024)
    10 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 .
    12 Beatrice Smith, What a lawyer wants you to know about riding an e-scooter in the ACT (Blog post, 7 July 2023) .
    14 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); Lara Pearce, ‘Police hunt for e-scooter rider after 10-year-old boy seriously injured’, Nine News (online, 9 April 2024)
    15 Australian Automobile Association, ‘Date failings prevent e-scooter safety analysis’, (online, 29 January 2024); Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson, The New Daily, ‘E-scooter deaths remain a mystery as motoring group warns of data inconsistencies,’ (online, 29 January 2024)
  • 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 Manager, 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.