First e-scooter rider in Britain to sue over crash loses £30,000 claim

First e-scooter rider in Britain to sue over crash loses £30,000 claim after failing to prove existence of pothole she says broke her leg

  • Giovanna Drago claimed she was thrown over the handlebars of her e-scooter
  • The 20-year-old said she was left in agony after hitting the pothole in London – although she admitted she was riding illegally
  • Judge throws out claim after Drago fails to provide evidence of council’s neglect

Giovanna Drago (pictured outside court), 20, who claimed she broke her leg after her e-scooter hit a pothole in Barnet, north London, in 2020, has had her case thrown out of court 

The first UK e-scooter rider to sue over a crash has had her £30,000 claim thrown out of court after failing to prove the existence of the pothole she said caused her accident.

Giovanna Drago, 20, suffered a broken leg after her new £500 e-scooter ploughed into a pothole in Friary Road, Barnet, north London, in October 2020, she claimed.

She said her injuries included lasting pain and scarring and left ‘clicking, swelling and muscle-wasting’ around the knee that took almost two years to heal.

In the first case of its kind to reach court, Ms Drago sued the London Borough of Barnet for £30,000 in compensation over its alleged failure to keep the road clear. However, she admitted she was riding her Xiaomi Mi Pro 2 scooter illegally when she crashed.

During the three-day hearing, she told Central London County Court she had no chance to avoid the ‘large and dangerous’ hole in the road because it was dusk and hard to spot.

But the London Borough of Barnet denied liability to compensate Ms Drago, challenging her to prove the existence of the offending pothole.

Judge Jan Luba KC rejected Ms Drago’s case, saying she had no evidence that the photograph of a pothole she showed to the court had been the one she says she hit.

She told the court she crashed ‘because it was dark, I couldn’t see the hole’.

Ms Drago added that she had her headlights on when her scooter catapulted forward without warning. She was wearing a safety helmet but no knee pads when she went over the handlebars, and had been travelling at a moderate speed.

The London Borough of Barnet denied all blame for her injuries, insisting its staff kept the road safe and clear from hazards, and that Ms Drago should not be compensated because she was breaking the law by riding on the road.

Ms Drago, of New Southgate, London, told the judge she had no idea she was breaking the law when she took her vehicle on the road. She said she had only ridden it twice before her crash.

Judge Luba rejected Ms Drago’s case, adding he was ‘not satisfied that the state of the road was such that there was a large and dangerous pothole in the road at the time’.

Ms Drago (pictured) admitted she was riding her e-scooter illegally when the crash happened while the judge cleared Barnet council after the 20-year-old failed to provide evidence

Ms Drago had shown the court a photo taken by her husband of a pothole on Friary Road in January 2021, which she claimed was to blame.

But the judge said there was no compelling evidence that the hole in the photo was the cause of her crash.

‘I have given careful weight to all the material relied on by Ms Drago but I’m not satisfied that this or a similar pothole was the cause of her accident,’ he said.

The scooter rider had been helped out by her husband and other friends at the time of her crash, said the judge, adding that he found it ‘extraordinary’ that none of them took photos on their mobile phones of the alleged hole on the day of the actual accident.

‘I’m not satisfied on the facts that Ms Drago has established that the state of the highway was dangerous to road users when she had her accident,’ added the judge.

The judge went on to clear Barnet of all fault in failing to maintain the road, but said he didn’t need to rule on the additional question of whether Ms Drago’s illegal riding would have forfeited any right to compensation.

The court was told that using privately owned e-scooters on public roads is ‘currently illegal’

Geoffrey Mott, representing Barnet, had pointed out that using privately owned e-scooters on public roads is ‘currently illegal’, citing the government’s ‘guidance for powered transporters’.

‘Those riders using an authorised hire scheme are required to possess an “O” category on their own provisional or full driving licence,’ he told the judge.

He added that Ms Drago had bought her £558 scooter from an Amazon supplier that routinely warns customers about legal restrictions banning e-scooters on the road.

Even if the council had been found at fault in failing to maintain the road, ‘any recovery should be precluded because the injury was the consequence of her own unlawful acts’, he said.

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