The rise of motorized scooters, often available to rent in cities across Florida and the nation, has been touted as an inexpensive, environmentally-friendly, and fun way for tourists and workers alike to get around areas prone to traffic congestion. However, the proximity of cars and scooters leads to accidents which can result in serious injuries or even death. If you have been injured in a Florida scooter accident, read on for more information about the process of recovering damages related to your accident. Contact a compassionate scooter accident at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA to learn more about what to do next following a scooter accident injury.
The Growing Popularity of Scooters in Florida
A tourist was critically injured in a scooter accident in Key West along the island's main thoroughfare. The accident occurred near a hotel when the 50-year-old Wisconsin woman's scooter was struck by a silver Honda SUV. The woman was airlifted to a Miami hospital. Electric scooters, commonly known as e-scooters, have become quite popular thanks to the offering of dockless scooters for rent in cities across the nation by a handful of companies that use the ride-share model to attract users. Users download the rental company's app and create an account. The app then provides a map that offers the nearest location of a scooter. The individual provides a scan of their driver's license and credit card information. to rent the scooter, they scan a code located on the apparatus. They are then free to use the scooter and are charged a low base fee plus mileage for their trip. When they are done using the scooter, they can then leave it near a bike rack for the next user. The idea took off quickly, often leaving city, county, and even state governments scrambling to create new laws or include e-scooters in old laws to limit their own liability. However, the patchwork of city and state laws has led to a tremendous amount of confusion. In Florida, for example, the law notes that scooters that travel under 30 miles per hour on level ground and do not have a seat or a saddle do not require registration. However, they can not be driven on city streets or sidewalks. The state law also notes that cities and counties have the authority to enact their own laws to control the use of the scooters and to determine where the vehicles can operate, provided the scooters are restricted to a speed of no more than 15 miles per hour.
The Dangers Associated With Florida Scooter Accidents
Scooters are smaller and less stable than cars or trucks, and lack the protective features of an automobile, such as a steel frame, airbags, and seat belts. This places riders at a far greater risk of injury in an accident than the occupants of other types of vehicles. According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the surge in popularity with the dockless scooters has resulted in a surge in emergency department visits as well. The study found that head injuries were the most common injury involved in scooter accidents, with 45 percent of individuals requiring medical attention having injuries to the head. Brain injuries are of particular concern, as the brain—while controlling all of the body's voluntary and involuntary responses—has a limited ability to recover from damage sustained in an accident This commonly results in permanent deficits in the person's ability to function, including memory loss, loss of the ability to communicate or to understand communication, and loss of the ability to control one's emotions or impulses. Brain injuries can also result in difficulties with coordinated movement, consciousness disorders, and other life-altering impacts. Twenty-seven percent of individuals seeking medical attention after a scooter accident suffer from upper extremity fractures, including broken arms, wrists, and ribs, while 12 percent suffer lower extremity fractures, including broken legs, hips, pelvis, and ankles. The median age for individuals suffering injuries on scooters is 29, the study revealed, and nearly a third of all injuries were sustained by first-time riders. Eighteen percent of the accidents studied by the CDC involved accidents with motor vehicles. Other hazards besides vehicle traffic pose hazards for scooter riders, including:
- Accidents in which the rider strikes a pedestrian. This generally happens when the scooter is being ridden on a sidewalk. The growing concern over sidewalks being used for scooters and the injuries that this practice causes to other users of the sidewalk led one of the major scooter-rental companies—Lime—to begin a pilot project in 2020 to test sidewalk detection software with its rentals. In addition to detecting the scooter's speed, the company claims its system can also detect, with 95 percent accuracy, whether the scooter is riding on the sidewalk and will alert riders when their sidewalk usage accounts for at least 50 percent of the trip. The company has agreed to share the information gleaned from their San Jose, California, pilot project with the city of San Jose so that city leaders can determine areas in the city where riders feel uncomfortable using the street.
- Accidents caused when a scooter rider leaves his or her rented scooter in a sidewalk, where other sidewalk users trip on it.
- Accidents involving defective scooters. Before the scooter rental craze came on in full force in recent years, those who were riding scooters actually owned the vehicle they were riding and could more readily ensure that all of the scooter's parts were properly maintained and in good working order. With rented scooters, the company that makes the vehicle available for riders is not necessarily aware if the scooter has a potentially hazardous defect.
Recovering Compensation After Your Florida Scooter Accident
If you have been injured in an accident involving a scooter that was caused by the careless or reckless actions of someone else, Florida law allows you to recover damages related to your injury through a scooter accident injury lawsuit. A Florida scooter accident injury lawsuit can establish that someone else was liable for your injuries and to prove the expenses and life impacts that you have incurred as a result. To prove liability, you must show the following:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care refers to the responsibility that an individual has to avoid injury to others, and the duty owed depends on the activity and the at-fault party's role in it. For example, if you were injured as a result of a motor vehicle hitting your scooter while you were attempting to cross the street in a crosswalk, the duty of care that the motorist had was to operate his or her motor vehicle safely and to yield the right-of-way to an individual in a crosswalk. If you were injured due to being struck by a scooter as a pedestrian walking on a sidewalk, the duty of care that the scooter rider owed to you would be to operate the vehicle safely and only where permitted.
- There was a breach in the duty of care owed to you. The breach refers to the reckless or careless action that was taken that was contrary to the duty of care. Using the above examples, the breach in the duty of care owed by the motorist would have been the failure to yield the right-of-way. The breach in the duty of care owed by the scooter-rider would have been failing to operate the vehicle safely or riding it in a prohibited area.
- The breach caused the accident, which resulted in your injuries and subsequent expenses and impacts on your life.
Florida allows the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages through the scooter accident injury claims process. Economic damages involve actual out-of-pocket expenses that were incurred as a result of the accident. Examples of this type of damage include:
- Medical expenses, such as emergency treatment at the accident scene or in the emergency department, transport to the hospital by ambulance or air, diagnostic testing, physician or surgical services, prescription medication, hospitalization, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. If your injuries are severe and require follow-up procedures or ongoing medical treatment, you can recover the estimated future medical expenses as well.
- Wage loss resulting from being too injured to work or missing work to attend injury-related medical appointments.
- Loss of future earning capacity if your injury results in permanent disabilities that render you unable to return to the job and the payscale you were at before the accident.
- The cost of repairing or replacing personal property that was damaged in the accident.
You can also claim non-economic damages in your scooter accident lawsuit. This type of damage refers to the impact that the injury you experienced has had on your life. Common examples of non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life, which is a type of damage claimed when an individual can no longer participate in activities or hobbies he or she formerly enjoyed due to the severity of the injury.
- Loss of consortium, which is a damage recovered on behalf of the injured person's spouse due to the loss of physical intimacy and companionship as a result of the injury.
After a scooter accident injury, seek the guidance of an experienced Florida scooter accident attorney who can help you to recover the maximum amount of compensation available. Your attorney can provide you with:
- Guidance as to the legal options that are available to you.
- A careful assessment of the facts of your case to determine all potential sources of liability and all insurance resources that can be accessed to compensate you. The insurance that the at-fault party has is an extremely important factor in your case, as that is how you will be compensated. While it is possible to file a lawsuit against an uninsured person and to even obtain a judgment in your favor, collecting that compensation would be very difficult, as most individuals do not have the money to pay for someone else's medical expenses out-of-pocket.
- Determination of the value to your case, based on the expenses and impacts you have experienced.
- Skilled negotiation with the at-fault party's insurance company in an attempt to obtain a fair settlement offer on your behalf. Insurance companies will generally attempt to offer a much lower settlement to limit their expenses. Many times, they offer this settlement quickly after an accident, before the individual has had a chance to speak to an attorney. You must speak with an attorney and determine the value of your case before accepting a settlement offer, as you cannot return to the at-fault party's insurance company and request more money if you later discover that the settlement you accepted wasn't enough to cover your expenses.
- Preparation for court, including the collection and organization of evidence in your case and the gathering of testimony from witnesses.
- In lieu of a settlement, litigation of your case in court. The vast majority of personal injury cases (such as scooter accident claims) settle before they ever see the inside of a courtroom. However, you need a Florida scooter accident attorney who is as comfortable and confident with litigating your case as with settling it out of court.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award.
- Further representation if the at-fault party in your case files an appeal.
Florida Scooter Accident FAQ
I was just in a Florida scooter accident. What should I do?
First and foremost, you should seek prompt medical attention. Even if you don't feel like your injuries are serious, you should see a doctor, as many serious injuries present with delayed symptoms. Beyond that, here are some tips:
- While at the scene of the accident, make sure to collect as much evidence as possible. This includes photos of the accident scene and the damage to the scooter and/or any other vehicles involved, as well as the contact information of anyone involved in or who witnessed the accident.
- If a police officer arrives at the scene and writes a report about the accident, make sure to get the officer's name and badge number, and inquire as to when you may obtain a copy of the report.
- If another motorist was involved in the accident, exchange contact information and also get the name and policy number for his or her insurance.
- Do not give statements to the at-fault party's insurance provider without first contacting an attorney. Insurance companies have a knack for getting accident victims to suggest that they may have had liability for their injuries. This may greatly affect the amount of compensation that you obtain when you file a Florida scooter accident claim.
- Speak to an experienced scooter accident attorney who can guide you through your next steps in starting the legal process of recovering damages through a Florida scooter accident lawsuit.
Who can I sue if I was injured in a scooter accident in Florida?
Several individuals and entities may face liability for an accident involving a scooter, including:
- A negligent motorist who struck the scooter while it was being operated in a place where scooters are legally permitted. While the state does not allow motorized scooters without a seat or saddle on public sidewalks or roadways, the law leaves room for local municipalities to determine their own regulatory control of the vehicles. Where you are legally allowed to ride depends on what the rules are in the municipality in which you are riding.
- A scooter company that provides you with a malfunctioning or poorly maintained scooter.
- The manufacturer or distributor of defective scooter parts. Manufacturers and distributors of products have a responsibility to ensure that their products are safe when used properly.
- The scooter rider, if injured as a result of being struck by a scooter operated by someone else.
- The governmental agency tasked with maintaining the sidewalk or roadway where you were legally permitted to ride the scooter, if your accident was the result of a surface defect or obstructed view that the agency reasonably should have known about and failed to repair.
How do I prove that someone else is liable for my Florida scooter accident?
Proving liability is crucial to have a successful outcome to your Florida scooter accident case. Liability is proven by establishing the following elements:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. This duty of care depends on how your accident occurred and the at-fault party's role in it. For example, if your accident was the result of a negligent motorist who struck you while you were riding in an area where scooters are permitted, the at-fault driver's duty of care would have been to operate his or her motor vehicle safely and legally.
- The at-fault party breached the duty of care. The breach refers to the careless or reckless actions that the at-fault party took that were contrary to the duty of care that he or she owed to you. Using the negligent motorist scenario from above, if the motorist was found to have been engaging in an unsafe or illegal practice at the time of the accident—such as distracted driving, speeding, or alcohol impairment—that behavior would constitute the breach in the duty of care.
- The breach led to the accident that caused your injuries and resultant expenses and impacts on your life.
I wasn't wearing a helmet at the time of my Florida scooter accident. Can I still file a claim?
Yes. While the at-fault party's insurance company will likely argue that a helmet would have helped make your head injury less severe, it doesn't erase the liability of the at-fault party for causing the accident. It's important to note, however, that the agreement you signed with the scooter rental company may include a provision that states that you are required to wear a helmet. If it does, you may share liability, and your settlement or award may be reduced. Your attorney will advise you of any factors that could potentially reduce the amount of compensation available to you. Regardless of the liability issue, we strongly encourage helmet use. A hospital in Fort Lauderdale treated more than 100 patients in the last year for injuries incurred in accidents involving electric scooters, and one-third of those patients were suffering head and facial injuries. In Florida, scooter riders are not required to wear helmets when riding, as long as the scooter does not go more than 30 miles per hour. However, medical professionals note that the number of injured riders would be dramatically reduced if all of them wore helmets.
What compensation may I receive through a Florida scooter accident lawsuit after a scooter accident?
Florida allows claimants to recover both economic and non-economic damages through a Florida scooter accident lawsuit following a scooter accident that resulted from the careless and reckless actions of another party. Economic damages refer to out-of-pocket expenses, such as:
- Medical treatment, including emergency treatment at the scene or in the emergency department; transport to the hospital by ambulance or helicopter; diagnostic testing; physician and surgical services; hospitalization; prescription medication; physical therapy and rehabilitation. Claimants can also seek the recovery of costs associated with the provision of assistive devices, such as crutches or a wheelchair.
- Lost wages, due to your injuries rendering you unable to work.
- Loss of future earning capacity, if your injuries result in a permanent disability that disallows you to perform the same job or to earn the same money as you were making before the accident.
Non-economic damages refer to the impacts that the injury has had on your life. Examples of this type of damage include:
- Physical pain and suffering as a result of the injury or treatment of the injury
- Emotional distress
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
- Disfigurement as a result of your injury
- Loss of consortium, which is recovered on behalf of the injured person's spouse due to the loss of physical intimacy and companionship often experienced after a serious injury
Is there any way, besides a lawsuit, to obtain compensation after a Florida scooter accident?
If you own a car that you registered in Florida, you were required to purchase a personal injury protection (PIP) policy at the time of registration. This policy is often accessible by you or your family members named on your policy to provide payment of medically necessary expenses and lost wages after a scooter accident, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
What if my Florida scooter accident injury requires me to have ongoing medical treatment? How will I ensure that I'm compensated for future expenses?
When your experienced scooter accident attorney determines the value of your case, he or she will look at the prognosis that your medical team has given you and add the estimated cost of future medical treatments that you will likely require into the economic damage category.
What can a person do to avoid a Florida scooter accident?
You can prevent a scooter accident from happening or reduce the chances of suffering severe injuries as a result of one by taking these steps:
- Always wear a helmet. A national study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered that 45 percent of individuals seeking medical attention after a scooter accident had suffered a head injury in the accident. Many of those injuries could have been avoided if a helmet had been used. Some scooter rental companies require users to use a helmet. In fact, some companies even provide helmets for riders.
- Know the laws in the municipality where you are riding. If scooters are prohibited on sidewalks, don't ride on the sidewalk. If they're disallowed on the street, don't ride on the street. A lot of accidents occur in areas where motorists aren't expecting scooters and, therefore, aren't looking for them.
- Always conduct a safety check of the scooter before riding it. Look for signs of damage or unusual wear. Be sure that the wheels, lights, and batteries are in good working order and that the brakes and throttle work as intended.
- Take a test ride in an uncrowded area to ensure that you know how to operate the scooter before using it in areas where there is traffic. Nearly one-third of all scooter accidents involve a first-time rider.
- Always ride solo. Many scooter rental companies and local governments prohibit the operation of a scooter that is carrying more than one rider at a time. Scooters do not provide enough room for two people to comfortably or safely ride and are not weight-rated to carry two adults at once.
- Avoid risky behaviors. Individuals should never attempt to operate a scooter while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Riders should avoid distractions, such as cell phones and headphones, to keep their full attention on the task of operating the scooter safely.
- Properly park your scooter when you are done using it, to protect others from injury. Scooter riders are not the only ones who face hazards with rented scooters. Riders can leave dockless scooters anywhere after the ride, but riders should leave their scooters standing up and in an area that is out of the path of pedestrians and other traffic. Avoid parking the scooter in areas such as sidewalks, crosswalks, bus stops, or near wheelchair ramps.
Do I need an attorney to recover damages from my Florida scooter accident?
Yes, you absolutely should have an attorney to provide guidance and representation for you in your scooter accident case. Florida scooter accident lawsuits are complex, featuring court formalities, deadlines, and other issues that those who have not spent years learning about the law likely won't know about. Further, insurance companies are often quite experienced at finding ways to get out of paying for damages. An experienced scooter accident attorney knows how to counter these tactics to help you maximize your compensation.
What if I can't afford your Florida scooter accident attorneys?
You can. Florida scooter accident attorneys often work to ensure that individuals who need their services will receive it. We provide free case evaluations. This is your opportunity to talk about your case with an attorney to learn more about the legal options that are available to you as well as to determine whether this attorney has the experience and ability to help with your case. Then, our Florida scooter accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. What this means is that we will not charge you for your attorney's services unless we achieve a successful outcome in your case.
Were You Injured? Our Florida Scooter Accident Lawyers Can Help
Let our experienced Florida scooter accident attorneys help you understand the legal process of recovering compensation after a scooter accident. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or by contacting us for a free case evaluation online.
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