NJ Supreme Court Rules Electric Scooter Riders Not Covered by Insurance (NJ.com)

NJ Supreme Court Rules Electric Scooter Riders Not Covered by Insurance

Friday, May 17th, 2024 Auto Legislation & Regulation Liability Litigation

The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that riders of low-speed electric scooters (LSES) are not considered pedestrians for insurance purposes, meaning they are not eligible for personal injury protection (PIP) coverage under current state law. This decision stems from a case involving David Goyco, who was struck by a vehicle while riding a Segway Ninebot KickScooter Max in Elizabeth in 2021. Goyco sought PIP coverage from his auto insurer, Progressive, which was denied on the grounds that the scooter did not qualify as an "automobile" or a "pedestrian" vehicle.

Goyco’s legal team argued that, under New Jersey’s No Fault Act, which covers bicyclists as pedestrians, LSES riders should also be eligible for PIP benefits. They cited a 2019 law signed by Governor Phil Murphy that regulates low-speed electric scooters similarly to bicycles, allowing their use on public roads without requiring registration, insurance, or a driver’s license. However, the Supreme Court ruled that the No Fault Act’s definition of a pedestrian relies on "muscular power," excluding electric scooter riders.

The court acknowledged that the Legislature could choose to expand PIP coverage to include LSES operators, as it has for motorcycles, but emphasized that such a policy decision should be made by the Legislature, not the court. Christian LoPiano, Goyco’s attorney, expressed disappointment with the ruling and urged the New Jersey Legislature to act quickly to amend the law to provide necessary benefits to injured scooter and bicycle operators.

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