British Holidaymaker Injured In Accident In The USA

Segway Crash In Florida


Travel lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have expressed concerns about the number of injuries associated with Segways after being contacted by a man who was seriously injured in an accident in Florida, USA.

Ian Parkes broke his leg and ankle as he tried to ride the Segway through the town of Celebration near Orlando.

Mr Parkes was on an instructor-led guided tour when he went to drive up an open ‘U-shaped’ ground drain and lost control of the vehicle, leading to his foot becoming trapped between the gap created by the Segway’s wheels and handlebar column.

Now overseas accident experts at Irwin Mitchell are asking for more to be done to warn people of the potential dangers involved in Segway use.

The law firm’s calls come just weeks after James Heselden, the British owner of Segway Inc, died following a cliff fall while using a Segway. Former President of the USA George W Bush and journalist Piers Morgan have also been involved in accidents involving the machines.

Joseph Dawson of Irwin Mitchell is representing Mr Parkes. He said: 

Expert Opinion
"Research recently released by The George Washington Hospital in Washington D.C, and published in Annals of Emergency Medicine, focused on the types of injuries suffered in accidents involving the vehicle, which is more formally known as the Segway Personal Transporter or Segway PT.

"41 people hurt in Segway accidents obtained emergency room treatment at the George Washington University Hospital. All 41 patients were injured after falling from the Segway, usually after they struck objects. While none of the patients was killed, ten were admitted to the hospital. Seven victims suffered injuries classified as moderate or severe including four people sent to the intensive care unit for traumatic brain injuries.

"Of the 31 patients who were discharged following emergency room treatment, ten sustained fractures, including two victims who had suffered skull fractures. The researchers commented that they were surprised by the severity of the injuries.

"In the UK, the Department for Transport considers Segways to be motor vehicles so they are subject to road traffic laws and according to the Crown Prosecution Service, cannot be driven on a pavement in England and Wales under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835, meaning their use is practically banned here except for on private land.

"However, when it comes to Segway use abroad, the laws are more relaxed and their use is far more common, which can often prove dangerous as the research from The George Washington Hospital shows, and as was the case for Mr Parkes."
Joseph Dawson, Solicitor

Holidaymaker Warned He May Not Walk Properly Again Following Accident

Mr Parkes, from Brierley Hill in the West Midlands, was in hospital for a week following his accident in January. Doctors in Florida warned him that he might never walk normally again due to the extent of his injuries – he broke both his right tibia and fibula and fractured his ankle so severely that he needed to have pins and plates surgically inserted.

Joseph said:  "Mr Parkes was not given sufficient training or guidance by ZE Tours before taking control of the Segway and as a result he was not fully able to manage the machine and suffered a very serious injury. 

"Prior to the crash, Mr Parkes was a self-employed director at a heating and ventilation firm, but, as a result of his injuries, he has been virtually office-bound and has had to take on staff to perform the duties he had previously done, which has significantly impacted on his income.

"It is essential that this very worrying research is acted upon with increased training and supervision of those using the Segway, particularly those who are new to it. More long term research is also needed into the safety of the Segway."

Commenting on his ordeal Mr Parkes said: "I've had to go through months of physio to try and sort out the continuing problems with my ankle and leg, but improvements have been minimal and I still walk with a limp and struggle to walk for any length of time without suffering extreme pain. My doctors have said this may always be the case for me. And my business has suffered too as I’ve had to take on extra staff to do jobs I used to do myself.

He adds: "We'd booked a holiday to Florida for a bit of winter sunshine, to recharge our batteries so we could go back to work refreshed but instead our lives have been turned upside down.

"I am livid that I wasn’t given basic advice that could easily have prevented my accident. It has had such massive implications on my life and now I want an explanation as to how this was allowed to happen to me."

Joseph Dawson concludes:  “Due to his accident, Mr Parkes’s ability to maintain his standard of living has been drastically impaired. And doctors warn that he may never walk normally as a result of the accident.

"We hope to achieve justice, and answers for Mr Parkes, so he and his family can start to move on and rebuild their lives. And we want assurances that lessons will be learned so that future holidaymakers and others using the Segway are not put at risk in the same way."