A third of households in England do not have off-street parking at their homes
This means drivers are forced to run cables and extension leads across footpaths. We investigate who is liable if a pedestrian trips and falls on one of these cables. Is it safe to use extension leads? And what schemes are available to EV owners without off-street parking?
Electric car sales are booming in 2020 and, with the ban on petrol and diesel cars due in the next decade or so, an increasing number of people are going to own battery-powered vehicle in the coming years.
But while there might be plenty of benefits of EV ownership, charging one of these cars is not ideal if you live in a flat, terraced house or any property that has no off-street parking.
Already, many owners in this scenario use a variety of ingenious methods to plug zero-emission vehicles parked on the road into the mains inside their homes, which usually means running a cable across a footpath.
What are the legal implications of doing this? Would you be liable if someone injured themselves tripping over the charging cable? Can you safely charge a plug-in model with extension cables and would a insurer pay out if you it caused damage to your vehicle?
Is it illegal to run a charging cable across a footpath?
Four in five EV owners charge their cars at home – the rest using public devices or facilities at work places, industry figures show.
However, data also shows that a third of English households have no dedicated off-street parking provisions available.
This has meant that many early adopters of electric cars – especially those living in cities – have found themselves in a real ‘needs must’ situation, with drivers having to run cables across footpaths to span from the sockets inside their properties.
As well as increasing the risk of others tampering with their vehicle’s charging, it also creates a potential hazard for pedestrians who could trip and fall on leads across the pavement.
While there is obvious risk, the Local Government Association told us there is ‘no legislation that it is aware of’ that would make the inconsiderate placing of a charging cable illegal.
A spokesman told This is Money that if someone was to injure themselves tripping over a charging cable across a pavement, the owner could potentially be liable – though a personal injury lawyer and motor insurer claims this might not be the case (read more below).
A cable should only be placed over the footway when the vehicle is charging and should always be removed when not in use.
Though it is suggested for those living on particularly busy streets to use raised plastic cable protector, which are usually used on construction sites.
A protector, up to three metres in length, usually costs around £20.
The LGA adds that drivers should consult their local authority’s website when considering how best to charge their electric vehicle.
A personal injury lawyer’s perspective on trips and falls caused by charging cables in the street
This is Money spoke to Kathryn Hart, a partner at personal injury law experts Lime Solicitors, to better understand what the process would be for an individual who suffers injury after tripping on a charging lead across the footpath.
‘Your accident probably happened on a public highway so you cannot claim the negligent person is the occupier of that highway,’ she explains.
‘You will need to argue that in common law negligence they owed you a duty of care, that they have breached that duty and that it was reasonably foreseeable that the injury would occur and that you have been injured.’
Read more: This Is Money
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