E-Scooter rider

A woman who smashed her leg when she hit a pothole while illegally riding an e-scooter is suing for £30,000 compensation in the first case of its kind to reach court.

Giovanna Drago broke her left knee when her new Xiaomi Mi Pro 2 e-scooter hit the pothole in Friary Road, Barnet, in October 2020, and took 20 months to recover from her injuries.

She told Central London county court she had no opportunity to avoid the pothole because it was dusk and hard to spot, and is suing Barnet council for failing to maintain the road.

Ms Drago, 22, claims she is entitled to damages despite admitting that riding her e-scooter on the road was illegal. But the council says she should get nothing because she caused her own injury by riding on the road as only scooters rented from an “authorised hire scheme” are allowed on public highways.

Her case is the first to go before a judge and could set a precedent for future claims. The court heard Ms Drago, of New Southgate, had no idea she was breaking the law when she took the scooter on the road and had only ridden it twice before her crash.

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

“Because it was dark I couldn’t see the hole,” she said. After her fall, she had to wear a knee brace and crutches for six weeks. She had mostly recovered after 20 months but was left with a 12cm scar and “clicking, swelling and muscle-wasting” around her knee.

Barnet council is denying all blame for her injuries, insisting staff did their utmost to keep roads clear from hazards, and that Ms Drago should not be compensated for her lawbreaking.

Geoffrey Mott, for Barnet, said using privately owned e-scooters on public roads is “currently illegal”. He also said Ms Drago bought her £558 scooter from an Amazon supplier which warns customers about the legal restrictions, and a damages payout “should be precluded because the injury was the consequence of her own unlawful acts.”

Ms Drago’s barrister, Dr Joanna Kerr, accepted the illegality of riding on the road but argued her offending was minimal and she should be compensated if the council are held at fault. The case was adjourned for the lawyers’ final submissions.

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