Civil liability derived from the circulation of electric scooters

June 09 , 2019 // Specialty : Liability derived from the use of motor vehicles

Published in Granada Digital

Electric scooters are progressively becoming the preferred mode of transportation for commuting or other travel within cities. Therefore, we analyze the regulation of this type of means of transport, as well as the civil liability derived from its circulation.
According to the Directorate General of Traffic, electric scooters are considered personal mobility vehicles (VMP), however, there is still some ignorance about what they really are, and that they use places of traffic reserved for pedestrians, they are vehicles engine and that can reach, in some cases, a speed above 60 km / h.
What type of vehicle is considered the electric scooter? What is its regulation?
The electric scooters or personal mobility vehicles (VMP), are not considered to be a motor vehicle, consideration that is granted by Royal Decree 1507/2008, of September 12 in its article 1 that includes what is considered a vehicle engine, and consequently, must be subject to mandatory insurance. So in order to move with these scooters it is not necessary to have a driver's license or subscribe an insurance.
There is still a certain legal vacuum, which some municipalities have tried to alleviate with the approval of sustainable mobility ordinances that regulate travel and the use of public space with these instruments, set criteria such as the speed at which they can circulate (fixed between 5 and 10 km / h in many of them, for example 5 km / h in Alicante) and the need for compulsory insurance, since this is one of the main battle horses of the subject.
Mobility ordinances for electric scooters
Thus, in Madrid the City Council, through its Sustainable Mobility Ordinance, of October 5, 2018 (EDL 2018/130902), authorizes them to circulate through 85% of the streets of Madrid, with a maximum speed equal to or less than 30 km / h, always giving preference to the pedestrian.
 
In Barcelona, ​​this Ordinance obliges electric scooters to circulate preferably along bicycle lanes, prohibiting their use on sidewalks reserved for pedestrians and restricting their use on public roads to children under 16 years of age. Thus, users of electric scooters traveling on pedestrian roads at a speed greater than 10 or 20 km / h (according to limitation) or by sidewalks at any speed may be fined.
Measures planned at the state level
The Government is already preparing a Royal Decree on Personal Mobility Vehicles (VMP), with the following new features:
• Limits the maximum speed between 6 and 25 km / h.
• They are not considered to be motor vehicles and therefore they are not obliged to take out insurance (when they are owned by an individual because the town councils are demanding insurance from the rental companies).
• They are prohibited from traveling on interurban roads.
• They do not need a driving license, although they are required to have a certificate of movement.
• It will not be mandatory to register them.
The fact that these vehicles lack their own space on the tracks causes situations of risk when sharing the urban space with other users: they circulate on roads when they are not motor vehicles and create a risk to themselves and drivers who can not see them or have to dodge them at risk for other drivers and drive on the sidewalks and create a state of risk to pedestrians who are not prepared or can not expect a vehicle, which is not motorized but electric, to break into areas where, "only "They can go pedestrians.
Civil liability derived from the use of electric scooters
Civil liability for its use is not regulated in a specific way so we will have to refer to the general requirements set out in art. 1902 of the Civil Code "He who by action or omission causes damage to another, intervening fault or negligence, is obliged to repair the damage caused." It means that the direct responsibility for the damage caused in the accident is the "user who causes it".
 
The problem lies in the fact that the absence of the subscription of a compulsory insurance for its use, can give rise to the absence of an economic compensation for the victim for the injuries suffered, therefore, we are going to start from some scenarios in which, besides of the responsibility of the "driver", the pedestrian can exercise actions against other responsible third parties:
The electric scooter is private and for private use the "driver" will respond with his direct patrimony. We can check if in our home insurance policy we have included some liability coverage for bicycles and scooters, something that is usual although it is not generalized to all insurance. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the user or owner of the VMP may voluntarily purchase insurance under the terms established in the general insurance legislation or shall hire it, in cases where, for its use in an urban road, the local authority shall establish
The electric scooter is used by a minor. A variant of the previous one, in which we must also bear in mind that the parents will be responsible for the damages caused by the children who are under their custody.
The electric scooter is a rental company: In this case we would have insurance to claim, because their tenure is mandatory to have a lucrative use the rent thereof. Some of these companies have an insurance for their scooters that covers both damage to third parties and those that may suffer the user, however in the rental agreement there are "ambiguous" conditions that could lead to both the damage to third parties and the user's own is not covered.
 
How to claim an accident with an electric scooter?
The claim to be made is similar to the one usually made for traffic accidents, and for its initiation, it is necessary to have the personal Mobility Vehicle user's data, it is convenient to have witnesses and photographs, all in order to prove, of a reliable way, both the circumstances of the accident, as well as the extent of the damages suffered.
We are faced with a new urban reality whose regulation is not yet uniform or stable, and where much remains to be done; What there is no doubt is that this new means of transport generates a risk that can lead to civil and even criminal liability (remember the news of the unfortunate death of a woman in Esplugues de Llobregat, its classification in the penal order would come from the hand of crimes of imprudence). Therefore, it is important to go to a professional both for advice in the event of a claim and for contracting policies.
To resolve any doubt about this, you can consult the Insurance Law Department of HispaColex Law Firm or if you prefer, call 958 200 335.

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