Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors are delighted to be supporting Shropshire Disability Network (SDN), a fantastic local organisation that provides a voice for disabled people across Shropshire.
We were asked by SDN for more information regarding mobility scooters, their use and insurance. Mobility scooters are an important tool for enabling independence and regularly used. However, those who use these scooters should be aware that they owe a duty of care to those around them and in particular to pedestrians.
Very often mobility scooters are used on pavements, as this is the safest place to use them. Drivers of scooters may not be aware that they need to obey the highway code giving priority to pedestrians and showing consideration for other pavement users.
There is guidance on their use set out in the Highway Code at Rule 36;
“Manual wheelchairs and Class 2 vehicles are those with an upper speed limit of 4 mph (6 km/h) and are designed to be used on pavements. Class 3 vehicles are those with an upper speed limit of 8 mph (12 km/h) and are equipped to be used on the road as well as the pavement”.
We recently successfully settled a case where our client was injured by a mobility scooter. Our client was a pedestrian who was knocked from the pavement into the road by a mobility scooter travelling too fast. Our client suffered nasty injuries to her legs caused by the scooter continuing to run after colliding with her and driving onto her legs. Fortunately, the scooter in that matter was insured, which meant that the Defendant driver of the scooter, who was understandably distressed by the accident itself, could allow her insurer to deal with the matter on her behalf, both in terms of correspondence and meeting any settlement and costs of the claim.
Whilst there is no requirement at the moment under UK domestic law for a mobility scooter to be insured, a recent decision in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) case of Damijan Vnuk v Zavarovalnica Triglav (2014) may mean that domestic law requires amendment. More details on that case can be found in a very useful blog by my colleague Gosia Bronisz-Handley http://blog.lblaw.co.uk/when-is-a-tractor-not-a-tractor/. However, the specific point here is that the ECJ stated that the term “use of a vehicle” extends to any vehicle being used “as a means of transport…” and that the term “vehicle” as set out in the First Motor Directive is “any motor vehicle intended to travel on land and propelled by mechanical power, but not running on rails”. It is likely this means that mobility scooters would be caught by this and should therefore be insured.
Whether domestic law will be amended to clarify the implications of this case remains to be seen, but from a practical point of view any driver of a mobility scooter needs to consider the implications of not having insurance where the scooter is involved in an accident. In many circumstances drivers of mobility scooters owe a duty of care to pedestrians to drive the scooter safely. If a breach of that duty causes injury, the driver could face legal proceedings for damages. Where a scooter is not insured the driver of the scooter would need to fund, any damages settlement or award, as well as their own and the Claimant’s legal costs of bringing the claim. This could be significant and best advice is to make sure the mobility scooter is insured.
Personal Injury Solicitor at Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors.