Scooters have become extremely popular as a cheap and efficient way to move around town. Whether you rent an e-scooter from a rideshare company or buy a moped or Vespa, you may not know whether you need a specialized license to drive your new toy around.
In Florida, the answer is a bit confusing. There are specific requirements for owning and driving a two or three-wheeled vehicle. Understanding what you’re getting yourself into ensures protection.
If the unthinkable happens and you or a loved one suffers an injury while on a scooter, speak with a trusted Florida scooter accident lawyer immediately. Your injuries may be severe, limit your ability to work, and prevent you from living your life as you did before the accident.
Florida’s Scooter Definition
Unfortunately, Florida does not have an exact definition of a scooter.
But Florida does define a moped as:
- A seated vehicle
- With three or fewer wheels
- Two-brake horsepower or less
- 50 cc or less
Under this definition, anyone operating a vehicle like this must have a Class E driver’s license. You must also register this vehicle and get a license plate.
While Vespas operate with a gasoline engine, many rental scooters operate solely on an electric engine. In Florida, any motor vehicle requires a license to drive. Florida defines a motor vehicle as any self-propelled vehicle. Some mopeds have pedals like a bicycle that also have a motorized engine.
The Florida legislature has passed no laws about licensing for rented scooters, so we need to examine case law. In a recent case, police cited an individual driving an electric scooter with a suspended license. The individual challenged this citation, arguing that the scooter was not a motor vehicle and did not require a license. The court disagreed.
Because the scooter operated solely by an engine, even though the engine was electric, this type of scooter fell under the definition of a motor vehicle in Florida and requires a valid license to drive. So the moral of the story is that if you are on a vehicle, even a rented scooter that is propelled solely by an electric motor, you need a valid Florida license.
Where You Can Ride Scooters?
Mopeds, Vespas, scooters, and other self-propelled vehicles are street legal in Florida. You can drive them on any road except for highways.
Because Florida classifies scooters as motor vehicles, drivers must follow the same laws as if they were driving a car. You cannot weave in and out of traffic. You cannot ride on sidewalks or in bike lanes. You must obey all traffic signs, including stop lights and stop signs.
These vehicles travel at slower speeds than other cars on the road. That’s one reason why they are not allowed on highways. But even on city streets, drivers should stay as far to the right as possible to allow faster traffic to safely pass by on the left. Unless you make a left turn, keeping as far right as possible while traveling on busy streets is best.
Always remember that riding scooters can also involve many other inherent risks of injury. Scooters are not as visible as other motor vehicles. They offer their riders very little personal protection in the event of accidents. Riding scooters on sidewalks can increase the chances of collisions with pedestrians. Road hazards can cause accidents, and many people riding scooters do not have much experience on scooters, which can increase the risk of accidents.
Florida does not require motorcycle riders over 16 to wear a helmet. The same is true of scooter, moped, and Vespa drivers. If you are carrying a passenger under 16, they must wear a helmet.
Even though Florida law does not require wearing a helmet, it’s always a good idea to do so. Wearing a helmet can protect you from severe injury and even death. While your scooter may not travel at high speeds, it does not take a high-speed accident to cause you grave injuries.
A scooter by design has very little protection for you. If a larger vehicle impacts you, even at slow speeds, your body takes the full brunt of the impact. This often results in catastrophic injuries that can change your life forever. Wearing a helmet is a simple and easy way to protect you.
Florida has no insurance requirement for owners of a moped, scooter, or Vespa. However, this doesn’t make it a good idea to forego insurance coverage.
Personal injury protection (PIP), at a minimum, is a good idea. PIP can help after an accident. Even minor accidents can cause serious injuries resulting in costly medical expenses. It’s a good idea to carry insurance to help keep you out of financial hardship should you get into a crash.
Moped and scooter insurance offers many types of coverage that are similar to motorcycle and car insurance, such as:
- Bodily injury and property damage liability. This will cover your scooter in property damage claims and any injuries you or others suffer.
- Collision and comprehensive insurance. Companies often bundle these two different coverage types together. Collision coverage will pay for repairs to your scooter if it suffers damage in an accident. Comprehensive insurance will cover issues such as theft, certain acts of God, vandalism, and collisions with animals.
- Carried contents and belongings. This covers accidental damage and anything stolen or lost while riding a moped or scooter.
- Medical payments. When you get into a scooter accident, this will cover your medical bills and possibly any funeral costs for you or a passenger, regardless of fault.
- Uninsured or underinsured motorists. This can pay for all medical bills, lost wages, or other expenses when another party crashes into you and either does not have insurance or has inadequate coverage.
By insuring your scooter, you might receive insurance discounts, including
Multi-policy discounts if you buy two or more policies from a single insurance company
Multi-vehicle discounts if you insure more than one vehicle, such as a car or motorcycle, in addition to the scooter
A safety discount if you agree to take an approved moped or scooter safety course
A storage discount when you keep a moped or scooter in a garage.
Moped or scooter insurance can also be relatively cheap, with many policies starting at less than $100 a year.
Without scooter insurance, you can get coverage for medical bills under your health insurance policy. Still, your traditional automobile insurance policy will probably not cover any damages since most insurance policies will not apply to vehicles with less than four wheels. Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may provide some coverage. However, limitations or exclusions usually prevent coverage for scooter accidents, and personal liability umbrella insurance may be applicable when you have reached the limits of another insurance policy.
When operating a Bird or Lime scooter, Bird fully insures its riders for anything that can happen because of a faulty Bird scooter. Lime’s insurance policy offers at least $1 million in liability coverage for every covered claim. In many other rented scooter cases, scooter companies require riders to waive liability claims against the companies.
Not having insurance can put you in a bind if you get into a collision, and it’s your fault. Without insurance, you can face a driver’s license suspension of up to three years. After that time, you will need to prove that you have insurance and will probably end up paying higher rates.
Except for scooters, you must register your moped or Vespa with the county tax collector. You will need a license plate that is valid and renewed every year.
Relevant Florida Law Breakdown
Knowing whether you need a license to operate your scooter is confusing.
Here is a quick breakdown of Florida law relevant to scooters, mopeds, and Vespas.
- You must have a valid Florida driver’s license
- You do not have to carry insurance, though it is a good idea
- You do not have to wear a helmet, but if you are carrying a passenger under the age of 16, they must wear one
- You cannot drive on highways or roads with speed limits over 40
- You must adhere to all traffic laws, including stop signs and staying in your lane
- You must ride as far to the right as possible unless you are turning left
- You cannot ride on sidewalks or in bike lanes
Scooter Accident Injuries
When riding on a scooter, moped, or Vespa, you feel the wind in your face and enjoy the Florida sunshine. But that freedom can also come at a cost. These vehicles provide very little protection if you are involved in a crash.
Your body is fully exposed, and even a slow-speed accident can cause severe injuries for you and your passengers. Just like a bicycle or motorcycle, the force of the impact from another vehicle will directly hit your body. This force can cause life-altering injuries.
If you are in a crash, you may find yourself with:
- Broken bones
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal organ damage
Getting immediate help after your scooter accident is vital to your ability to get back to your regular life. If your injuries do not receive proper treatment, you may need a lifetime of medical care and attention. Not only can this lessen your enjoyment of your life, but it can also cause extreme financial hardship.
What to Do After Your Scooter Accident?
If you are involved in a scooter accident in Florida, the steps you take immediately after your accident can play a vital role in your recovery. Following these steps can help ensure you get the medical and legal attention you deserve.
After an accident, you should call 911. Doing this will send emergency medical personnel to your accident scene who will treat you for any injuries. If your injuries are severe, they will take you to the hospital for further evaluation. Your first concern is to make sure you are going to be alright. Do not refuse medical help.
Get a Police Accident Report
When you call 911, the police will also come to your accident scene. When they arrive, they will speak with you, the other driver, and any witnesses. They will compile this information into their accident report. While they may not assign fault, they will provide a diagram of your accident which will help your legal team show that someone else caused your accident and injuries.
Take Pictures and Video
If your injuries are severe, you cannot complete this step, so ask a trusted friend or family member to help you. Getting pictures and video of the accident scene, your injuries, your scooter, and any other vehicles can provide vital insight into how your accident happened and the severity of your injuries.
Try to take pictures and videos from many angles and distances to get as vivid an account of the crash scene as possible. No lawyer will ever tell you that you took too many pictures.
Talk to Witnesses
Not all witnesses will stick around and speak with the police – ensure to get their contact information so your legal team can speak with them. Witnesses often provide unique insight into the seconds leading up to your crash. This information can prove the other person caused your accident and injuries.
See Your Doctor
All scooter accident victims must seek medical attention immediately after an accident, even when they do not think they suffered an injury. Remember that many serious injuries have delayed symptoms, and waiting too long to see a doctor can hurt your injury claim later.
When you do not seek immediate treatment for your injuries, another party’s insurer may claim that something else was the cause of an injury claim. You will avoid this headache by seeing your doctor immediately after a scooter accident, even when injuries appear minor.
Your regular doctor knows you best. A doctor will diagnose your injuries and their impact on your life. Your doctor will keep detailed notes about how your injuries have changed your ability to live your life, including your ability to work and earn a living.
This information helps you collect compensation for your accident, so you do not have to pay a penny out of your pocket.
Keep a Journal
Your injuries might affect your ability to live your regular life. Keeping detailed notes about how you feel each day, the pain you feel, the medication you had to take, and what you can and cannot do, paints a picture of your recovery. Over time, you will not recall every hurdle and obstacle you faced to improve. Keeping a journal will help refresh your memory about everything you encountered during your road to recovery.
When you partner with a skilled Florida scooter accident lawyer, you can shift the burden of your legal worries to your attorney.
Your lawyer may get compensation for your:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost income
- Lost earning potential
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Present and future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
You may see your existing medical expenses piling up on your kitchen table. Depending on the severity of your injuries, that may only represent a small fraction of the total amount of medical bills you may see. But you should not bear the responsibility of paying those bills. When someone else causes your scooter accident, they should be on the hook to pay those astronomical medical bills, not you.
That’s the responsibility your lawyer takes on. While you focus on getting better, your lawyer works tirelessly to try to collect every dollar you deserve. The last thing you need right now is worrying about how you will pay your medical bills and all of your regular bills while you cannot work.
The right lawyer can make a difference in your ability to collect maximum compensation for your scooter accident injuries. You deserve a lawyer guiding you who has proven experience helping scooter accident injury victims like you recover every dollar they deserve. Paying even one cent out of your pocket to cover your medical bills is unacceptable.
Causes of Scooter Accidents
Scooter accidents can stem from:
- Inadequate scooter maintenance. Some rental scooters might not receive regular maintenance, which can mean that certain flaws with some parts of a scooter can cause scooter accidents.
- Malfunctioning scooters. Scooters may have defective parts resulting from improper design or manufacture, and victims in these cases may file product liability claims against companies.
- Road hazards. Many scooter riders can suffer injuries in accidents resulting from common issues such as potholes or uneven pavement. A governmental agency can be responsible for injuries when road issues should have been corrected or at least had warnings about hazardous conditions.
- Distracted driving. Other motorists driving near scooters may not see scooters when distracted, possibly because of cell phone use such as talking or texting while driving. A negligent driver in such cases can be liable for all damages stemming from a scooter accident caused by another driver’s distraction and negligence.
- Driving under the influence. A drunk motor vehicle driver is likelier to cause a scooter accident because they are not as likely to be aware of a scooter’s presence.
- You should also be aware that in severe injury cases, another party’s insurance company can try to contact you and offer you a lump-sum settlement before you even have the chance to consider hiring a scooter accident lawyer. Decline to discuss specifics of your case with another insurance company until you have an attorney and never agree to provide any recorded statements or sign any agreements.
People need to be aware that even when settlement proposals sound somewhat generous, the amounts are assuredly far less than what victims actually deserve. Insurance companies offer lowball amounts in hopes of closing cases quickly at a fraction of the actual costs.
The tremendous risk to victims in accepting these settlement offers is that doing so will close their cases. They cannot pursue additional financial compensation if they realize they need more money. This is very common when victims are not considering the costs of future medical care.
Your scooter accident attorney can conduct an independent investigation into your accident to secure all of the evidence in your case and prove the liability of another party.
Contact a lawyer as soon as possible so you can get them involved immediately after a scooter accident and give yourself the best chance of full financial recovery.