Personal mobility device (PMD) users and their accident victims can undertake voluntary mediation when they experienced accident at the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC) or the Law Society of Singapore, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min in his parliamentary reply on Tuesday (12 February).
This was his response to Member of Parliament for Nee Soon Er Dr Lee Bee Wah who asked the Minister for Transport how many users of personal mobility devices (PMDs) and their accident victims have gone for mediation in the past 24 months, what compensation has been paid out in the mediation, what is the cost of mediation that each party must bear, how long is the whole process of mediation, and what is the process should one party refuses to attend.
The minister stated that mediation is voluntary and can only proceed with both parties in attendance.
He said that the SMC facilitates this by contacting the relevant parties and explaining the benefits of mediation.
To date, the SMC and Law Society have not received any mediation cases involving PMD users and their accident victims.
According to the minister, the Law Society’s charges start from $350 per party. SMC’s charges start from $107 per party, and varies according to the type of mediation and the dispute amount. SMC also provides subsidised rates to applicants with financial difficulties on a case-by-case basis.
Dr Min also stated that the duration of mediation depends on the complexity of the issues and the parties’ willingness to resolve the dispute, stressing that the negotiation process is confidential, and parties generally do not disclose the compensation amount.
If mediation fails, either because one party refuses to attend or the parties are unable to come to a resolution, the claimant can choose to file a civil suit in the State Courts, he noted.
He then added that the Active Mobility Advisory Panel and LTA strongly encourage all active mobility device users to purchase third-party liability insurance to protect themselves against third-party claims in the event of an accident.
Claimant can approach legal aid in civil suit, says SMS Transport
Seemingly ok with Dr Lam not answering the bulk of her questions, Er Dr Lee followed up with her supplementary questions, “Just now, SMS mentioned that if one party refused to attend mediation then the next clause is civil suit. I think a lot of people think that first it costs money and it is very troublesome. So is there anything that the ministry can do to make it easier.”
Dr Lam said that in the situation that the claimant is unable to afford the legal fees, the claimant can also approach the legal aid bureau which offers help to those who have difficulties in procuring legal representation on their own.
In addition to that, the claimant can also approach the law society of Singapore that can help provide pro-bono services, free legal representation. And if the claimant wants to have some form of legal advice, they can also approach community legal clinics at law society for they do offer basic legal advice to give them some form of assurance on what are the next cause of action.
“For the pro-bono legal advise provided by the law society, is that mean tested? Is it anybody who can go in and ask, because it’s not easy to get help from the legal aid,” asked Er Dr Lee.
She added, “So if everybody want to go along that direction, I think maybe, it’s quite tough, so perhaps if there’s increasing complaints, increasing incidents, perhaps the ministry should look into this, how best. I mean if the other party didn’t turn up the the other party is at fault.”
Responding to this, the minister said that the victims can seek for compensation through the criminal prosecution as the last option.
He said, “If, let’s say the victim involved in an accident and suffered significant injuries, I encouraged to quickly filed a police report because that will allow the police to launch an investigation to determine if an offense has been commited.”
“And should the AGC assessed that an offense has been committed, then the Court will consider whether to order the offender to compensate the victim. So, this is actually another avenue of where the victim can seek compensation,” he added.
Speed limit, mandatory helmets and traffic rules to improve safety of pedestrains
Er Dr Lee also asked the ministry on how to make sure that all these e-scooters do not pose danger to all the pedestrians.
Dr Lam said that Singaporeans can learn from the bike-sharing experiences. With the implementation of Active Mobility Act (AMA) and also the implementation of safety requirements of the PMD users, we’ll be able to ensure that the use of e-scooters will be done in safe manners.
“SMS mentioned that it is not compulsory, can we make it compulsory so that when come to the claim, the person injured can claim against the insurance of their part,” she asked.
The minister stated that the reason why the insurance is not compulsory because the Active Mobility Advisory Panels do not recommend mandating this because the diversity in device users.
Instead, he said that the panel recommend to focus on the safety sides. The Ministry of Transport (MOT) had earlier announced on September last year that it has accepted all of the following recommendation submitted by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel for a safer path and had implemented them in early-2019.
There are four recommendations applied, which are the reducing of speed limit on footpaths for personal mobility device users and cyclists from 15 km/h to 10 km/h, speed limit on motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters, mandatory helmets while on road, and “stop and look” out for vehicles at road crossings, before resuming their journeys.
Dr Lam then stated that while it is not mandatory for PMD users to purchase third party insurance, the ministry does strongly encouraged active mobility device users to purchase third party liability insurance to protect themselves against a party claims in an event of an accident.
Earlier in January 2019, Land Transport Authority (LTA) launched the licence applications for bicycle-sharing and motorised Personal Mobility Device (PMD)-sharing services. Under the licensing framework, operators who have been granted sandbox licences and full licences for both motorised PMD and bicycle-sharing services will be allowed to operate in public spaces for one year and two years respectively.
Noting that the application has ended on Monday, Er Dr Lee asked how many shared e-scooters operators applied for e-scooter sharing licences.
The senior minister said that the exact figures have not been counted, however, he noted that the ministry will announce the result to the public as soon as possible.
In April alone last year, there were four reported incident invloving PMDs.
On 16 April, an 86-year-old e-scooter rider was taken to the hospital after an accident with a bus in Yishun.
A 65-year-old woman suffered multiple injuries after a collision with an e-scooter at her HDB block when she was on her way to pick up her granddaughter at the lift lobby of Block 538 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 on 17 April.
An 11-year-old girl had to have her jaw and gums realigned, after an e-scooter crashed into her along Pasir Ris Drive 1 on 12 April.
On the same day, a six-year-old boy was injured after an e-scooter rider crashed into him near Punggol Park.
In September last year, a chef passed away after falling off his e-scooter.