If someone trips and falls on the charging cable of an electric car lying across the sidewalk, who is liable?
Many EV owners who can’t park on the street devise their own ingenious tactics to run a charging cable from their home to the side of the road, sometimes with non-slip mats over the cord and even instances where people run a cable from an upstairs window. walk in. their terraced dwelling to a tree along the curb and along the trunk.
However, these tactics not only increase the risk of others tampering with charging their vehicle, but also pose a potential hazard to pedestrians who may trip and fall on cables across the sidewalk.
What the LGA says…
While there is an obvious risk, the Local Government Association (LGA) has previously told us that there is “no legislation of which it is aware” that would make negligently fitting a charging cable illegal.
In 2020, when we were exploring the legal ramifications of running charging cables across the sidewalk, an LGA spokesperson told This is Money that if someone were to injure themselves by tripping over a charging cable on a sidewalk, the owner could potentially be liable — although a personal injury attorney and auto insurer argue that may not be the case.
A cable should only be laid across the curb when the vehicle is being charged and should always be removed when not in use.
Although it is recommended for those who live on particularly busy streets to use raised plastic cable protectors, which are usually used on construction sites.
A protector, up to ten feet long, usually costs around £20.
The LGA adds that motorists should consult their council’s website when considering how best to charge their electric vehicle.
Recommend running charging cables across the footpath only when the vehicle is plugged in. Many recommend ‘cable protectors’ (as seen in this photo), which are commonly used on construction sites and cost around £20.
A Personal Injury Lawyer’s Perspective…
This is Money spoke to Kathryn Hart, a partner at personal injury attorneys Lime Solicitors, to better understand what the process would be for a person injured after tripping over a charging cord across the sidewalk.
“Your accident probably happened on a public highway, so you can’t claim that the negligent person is the occupant of that highway,” she explained.
“You will have to argue that they owe you a duty of care based on common law negligence, that they breached that duty and that it was reasonable to expect the injury to occur and you were injured.”
This makes the claim scenario the same as if a person had to prove that they were actually hit by the owner of the EV, after which the claim was made against their insurer.
‘Is that insurance applicable in such cases? What you need to prove is that the injury was caused by the use of the insured vehicle on the road,” says Kathryn.
“If the court accepts that the vehicle is charged by using it, then the insurers should cover it.”
She does warn, however: ‘Insurers usually don’t readily accept responsibility if they think they can avoid it. I think they will fight it.
“The problem with a claim against the car owner is that if the insurance doesn’t cover him, he probably isn’t worth suing.”
What car insurers think…
With personal injury lawyers putting the ball firmly in an insurer’s court on these matters, This is Money spoke to one of the largest electric vehicle insurers, LV General Insurance, to get their perspective.
Incredibly, EV policies now have to cover customers for trips or falls on their own charging cables.
Recently, the law was changed as a result of a court decision defining ‘use’ of a vehicle.
Charging an electric car is considered “using” or using the vehicle, just like using a car when you fill up with gas, even if you are not physically driving it.
But what if someone else trips over the charging cable?
An LV spokesperson told us: ‘If someone tripped or fell over a charging cable and our customer were found legally responsible or negligent, our policy would cover it under ‘liability to other people’.
“With claims like this, our client would have to be found negligent in a court of law and there would also be other things to consider, such as the pedestrian maybe not paying attention to where he was walking, because when they look at their phone, for example, he is there is probably an element of negligence on their part.’
While this could be the case, LV says it has not yet received any cases of this type.
It also added that the injury would have to be “quite serious” for a claim to be filed, and that tripping on a sidewalk will not necessarily result in a life-threatening or altering injury in most cases.