Americans who think their auto insurance laws are ridiculous should be glad they do not live in the United Kingdom or the European Union. Britons could have to buy insurance for golf carts, riding lawnmowers, and even motorized wheelchairs under a 1972 EU directive, The Daily Telegraph is reporting.
In a recent court case, an EU court in Brussels ruled that the 1972 directive states that all moving vehicles should have insurance coverage. The case was brought by Damijan Vnuk, a worker from the small nation of Slovenia who was injured after a tractor knocked down a ladder he was standing on.
The case conflicts with British law that requires any motor vehicle except a mobility scooter to have insurance when it is on a public road. Legal experts are afraid that the Vnuk case will expand that requirement any location, including farmyards, golf courses, and workplaces.
If the ruling takes effect, mobility scooters would have to have third-party liability coverage in Britain, attorney Cecila Frodsham told The Telegraph. That could be expensive because it currently costs around $129 to buy such insurance for a scooter in the United Kingdom.
To make matters worse, under the ruling, people who ride such vehicles could be sued for negligence under British law, Frodsham pointed out. Her Majesty Government is planning to require insurance for mobility scooters, according to the Telegraph.
Could it Happen Here?
Naturally many Americans will be wondering if it could happen here. The answer to that question is, unfortunately, yes.
It is not hard to imagine scooter and golf cart drivers being sued in states like Louisiana and Michigan. Michigan has the nation’s most expensive car insurance because drivers are liable for virtually any medical expense after an accident under the state law. Louisiana’s insurance rates are ludicrous because it is really easy to sue insurance companies and win in that state.
So yes, Mr. and Ms. America, in a few years, you might have to buy insurance for your golf cart, ATV, or even your lawnmower. Something to remember is that even though EU law does not directly affect American courts, it can serve as a precedent for U.S. courts to apply.
Affluent people that rely on scooters to get around or their own golf carts might be well advised to look into some sort of specialist insurance. It might only be a matter of time before some U.S. personal injury attorney tries to apply the Vnuk to an American court; it’ll probably start in Louisiana.