E-scooter driver who drove into a pothole demands compensation from the municipality

The court heard that Mrs Drago, of New Southgate, London, was unaware she was breaking the law when she took it on the road and had only driven it twice before her crash.

She was wearing a safety helmet but no knee pads when she went over the handlebars but had been traveling at a moderate speed, she told Judge Jan Luba KC during a two-day trial this week.

“Because it was dark I couldn’t see the hole,” she said.

After the fall, Drago had to wear a knee brace and crutches for six weeks, although most of her symptoms resolved within 20 months.

However, her injuries left a 12cm scar, along with pain around it and “clicking, swelling and muscle wasting” around the knee.

Council: “Damage caused by illegal action”

The London Borough of Barnet denies any blame for her injuries, insisting that staff did their utmost to keep the road safe and free of hazards and that Drago should not be compensated for the offence.

Geoffrey Mott, for Barnet, pointed out that using privately owned e-scooters on public roads is “currently illegal”, citing the government’s “guidance for motorized carriers”.

“Those riders using an authorized hire scheme are required… to have an ‘O’ category on their own provisional or full licence,” he told Judge Jan Luba.

On top of that, Mrs Drago had bought her scooter for £558 from an Amazon supplier who routinely warns customers about legal restrictions preventing taking a private scooter on the road, he claimed.

Even if the council was at fault for failing to maintain the road, which Mott disputed, a compensation payment “should be precluded because the damage was the consequence of her own unlawful acts”.

“While the damage may not have occurred but for breach of duty on the part of the council – if found – it was caused by the criminal act of Mrs Drago,” he argued.

The insult was minimal, claims the plaintiff

Mrs Drago’s lawyer, Dr Joanna Kerr, accepted the illegality of cycling on the road, but argued her offense was minimal and she should still be compensated if the council is found to be wrong.

But Mott said safety officers had regularly monitored the stretch of road where the scooter rider came to grief, carrying out the last scheduled inspection just three months before her discharge.

There was no pothole or similar hazard on the road at the time, he told the judge, and when the council finally received a complaint about a pothole in January 2021, the surface was repaired “within hours”.

If the hole was there, it was “capable of being seen by anyone traveling at a relatively low speed and should have been seen by Drago if she had exercised reasonable care and attention”, the lawyer said.

“Ms Drago’s misconduct has clearly caused her own loss,” he added.

“Allowing her claim would be contrary to government policy to restrict e-scooters to protect riders and the public.”

The case was adjourned until another day for the lawyers’ final submissions after two days in court.

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