The number of e-scooters on our roads and pavements is increasing rapidly and it is not a surprise that the rise in the popularity of e-scooters is also fuelling a rise in related injuries.
As the legal and medical professions try to catch up with the new technology, there is limited research about the number and type of injuries that have been caused by e-scooters.
Indeed, in David Hirst’s research briefing for the House of Commons Library, Regulating electric scooters (E-scooters) (September 1, 2021), he says that the Government’s Regulatory review acknowledges that “robust accident data is not yet available, as e-scooter use is a relatively new phenomenon”.
What research is available into injuries caused by e-scooter use?
There are some studies that provide insight into the types of injuries that occur during an e-scooter crash. There are published studies in America that provide some understanding of the public health and safety risks associated with the e-scooter’s rapid growth.
The study Injuries Associated With Standing Electric Scooter Use (2019) recorded 249 patients who attend an emergency department with injuries associated with e-scooter use during a 1-year period. The study found that the most common injuries were fractures (31.7%), head injuries (40.2%), and soft-tissue injuries (27.7%). It is also worth noting that just 4.4% of the injured riders wore a helmet.
Within the UK the injury data is more limited. While significant e-scooter trials stared in Santa Monica, California, back in September 2017, e-scooter pilot schemes were not introduced in the UK until June 2020. That isn’t to say analysis is not taking place on the impact of e-scooters to the UK’s health service.
For example, David Bodansky, an orthopaedic surgeon at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and his team has begun research after seeing life-threatening injuries caused by e-scooter crashes.
While the research is yet to be published, Inspector Carl McNulty from Merseyside Police, was able to give some insight into Mr Bodansky’s research during a presentation, about the impact of e-scooters in the Liverpool area, to the North West RoadPeace group meeting in November (2021).
E-scooter injuries in major trauma units
Mr Bodansky is based at the major trauma centre for Cheshire and Merseyside in Aintree University Hospital. The initial research records e-scooter injuries and treatments across the city’s three hospitals over a six-month period within Liverpool’s e-scooter trial area.
If you would like to know more about the background to the Mr Bodansky’s research into the impact of e-scooters on services within trauma units, see Liverpool World’s article by RoadPeace Trustee, Petra Kendall-Raynor.
E-scooter injuries recorded by major trauma centres
Many types of the injuries recorded by Mr Bodansky’s on-going e-scooter research are what you would expect. They are similar to the injury profiles for cyclists but there are some surprises and conditions to watch out for.
Upper limb injuries caused by e-scooters
If you are involved in an e-scooter collision, then your first instinct will be to raise your arms and hands to protect yourself as you fall. So, it is not surprising that trauma units have seen an increase in wrist, forearm and elbow injuries from e-scooter related crashes.
These included soft tissue injuries. A soft tissue injury can be anything from bruising and grazing, through to more serious injuries such as muscle, ligament and tendon tears.
Most of the upper limb injuries also included fractures. A common injury was a fracture in the wrist and specifically the scaphoid bone. Such an injury is common after a fall on to your outstretched hand. Although the bone is small the impact on daily life can be significant if the fracture is in the wrist of your dominant hand. It can take about 12 weeks to fully heal if treated but can take as long as six months if diagnosis of the fracture is delayed.
Lower limb injuries cause by e-scooters
You would expect to see some sort of leg injury as a result of an e-scooter collision. Damage to the knee, ankle and foot are common. Most of the lower limb injuries included a fracture, such as leg bones like the femur and fibula. Also, common but not as obvious – and harder to diagnose – are fractures to one or more of the small ankle bones called the tarsals.
Any type of leg injury will have an impact on your mobility. A minor fracture can still take six to eight weeks to properly heal, and you will most probably need crutches or a wheelchair to keep the weight off the leg.
Ligaments and tendons with a fracture can take even longer to heal. It can be two years before a full pain-free motion and strength returns after an ankle fracture. Although most people will be able to return to their daily routine within three to four months.
Abdominal injuries cause by e-scooters
While lower torso injuries are not as commonly recorded as limb injuries, they are significant because of their potential severity. Due to the trajectory of an e-scooter during a collision or fall, there have been instances of riders falling on their handlebars. The positioning means that e-scooter riders take the impact of the handlebar in their abdominal areas, which can seriously damage internal organs like the liver or kidneys. Although not as common as upper and lower limb injuries, these types of injury can be life threatening.
Head and brain injuries caused by e-scooters
Mr Bodansky’s trauma centre research of e-scooter injuries did not record any head injuries but a major concern to road safety community is that it is not compulsory to wear a helmet. The wearing of protective head gear is encouraged and recommended but only a small minority of people choose to do so.
US research into e-scooter injuries offer a stark warning. A study of US e-scooter related injuries and hospital admissions, Electric Scooter Injuries and Hospital Admissions in the United States, 2014-2018 found nearly a third of the patients suffered head trauma, which was more than twice the rate of head injuries when compared to cyclists.
A head or brain injury can have a devastating impact on a person’s life and the lives of their family. As a firm of solicitors, we see first-hand the catastrophic, life-changing consequences and we would always recommend wearing a helmet when riding an e-scooter.
How much compensation could I expect for an e-scooter injury?
It is not easy to predict the exact amount of compensation a client would receive for an e-scooter injury – and you should be weary of a solicitor who does give you an exact figure! This is because all personal injury claims are unique to the individual and their needs. There are many factors our lawyers will take into account when calculating the amount of compensation you could be eligible for.
- The severity of the injury and your pain and suffering
- Whether it is a single injury or multiple injuries
- Whether there is a psychological impact
- The amount of any financial losses that you have suffered as a result of the collision
- Whether you are likely to suffer future financial losses
- Who was at fault and whether you contributed to the collision
After speaking to you and finding out more information, we may be able to provide an estimate of how much compensation you could be owed if injured while riding an e-scooter. This could be done after an initial conversation, which should be for free, in confidence and with no-obligations.
It is important to remember that even a perceived minor injury can impact on your everyday life and work. It is important not to dismiss on-going discomfort, pain or restricted movement because you have been told that the e-scooter injury is small or doesn’t look that bad. A broken leg can mean a very different outcome to someone who works in IT, compared to a self-employed builder.
Further reading on e-scooters, the law and compensation
The Department for Transport introduced e-scooter trials in June 2020 across 32 regions in England. An e-scooter can legally be used if it is hired from one of the pilot companies for us on the roads only, it should be noted that riding a privately owned e-scooter on a public road is still illegal.
For more information about the current law surrounding the use of e-scooters and to find out whether you are entitled to compensation please click here .
Who do I call if I have been involved in an e-scooter collision?
Chris Bolton is a Partner and personal injury specialist in serious injury work, including claims involving brain injury, spinal injury, chronic pain and fatal accidents. He has nearly 25 years’ experience in the legal profession. You can contact him by calling 01772 552 271 or emailing email@example.com.