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Motorized Scooter Safety in Florida

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E-scooters, which are two-wheeled scooters powered by small motors, are set to make an appearance in Tampa starting within weeks (as of this writing). Many are lauding the move as a way to cut down on Tampa’s traffic, but others are unsure as to whether it may actually create more problems. It is also important to understand the difference between the scooters rented by companies like Lime and Bird, and motorized scooters like mopeds, which are regulated differently. Understanding your rights and responsibilities is always a good thing.

No Current Legislation

While e-scooters are taking the country by storm, most Florida cities have yet to allow them within their city limits, because governments have interpreted current laws as not applying to e-scooters, and state law requires that cities pass an ordinance before scooter companies can do business. With no legislation governing things like where they can be used, where they can be stored, and helmet usage, most city and county governments have simply declined to enter into the partnership agreements that scooter companies have been using to expand their business model.

Tampa’s pilot program is slated to start by the end of April 2019, and will include as many as 1,800 scooters, primarily confined to the area south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Companies must pay fees up front in order to be allowed to operate, and the scooters will be locked to a certain area, with the power cutting out if a rider tries to take them outside the legal zone. The outlook for the pilot program is conflicted, with some authorities predicting a rise in people using transit as a result, and some casting the program as potentially dangerous due to the frequency of scooter accidents seen in other cities.

In The Event Of An Accident

Once scooters have appeared in Tampa, the actual rights and responsibilities of riders will depend on the specific wording of whatever legislation is passed to cover them. However, it is reasonable to assume that riders will have to exercise the same level of care that bicycles, pedestrians and any other non-automobile on the road must exercise – and because e-scooters are motorized, they might even be held to a higher standard still. Stories of accidents involving scooters are legion, and while sometimes they are due to scooter riders acting negligently (for example, riding into the street without looking or taking steps to avoid cars), much of the time it is the rider who is injured due to the driver’s negligence.

If you are involved in an accident while you are on a bicycle, or on foot, you may be able to bring suit against whomever hit you – in order to prevail, you must be able to show that the defendant breached their duty to exercise reasonable care toward you, and that their breach was the direct cause of the harm you suffered. There is no reason why scooters would not be treated in a similar manner – along with the same treatment under Florida’s comparative fault statute, which would deny recovery if a scooter rider is more responsible for their own injuries than the defendant is.

Contact A Tampa Road Accident Attorney

While the eventual fallout of e-scooters coming to Tampa remains to be seen, it is important to be aware of your rights in case you meet with an accident while riding one. The Tampa personal injury attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group have stayed on top of the news on this issue, and are ready and willing to try and help you should a case of negligence arise. We are happy to answer your questions. Contact our offices today.

Resources:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0768/Sections/0768.81.html

tampabay.com/transportation/will-scooters-help-or-hurt-the-way-we-get-around-in-tampa-bay-were-about-to-find-out-20190211/

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