Learn about Florida laws and liability after an accident with a moped or motor scooter
Over the past 25 years, moped and motor scooter sales have increased by about 60 percent. As one of the top states for population growth, Florida’s congested roads have led many residents and visitors to take to motorcycles, mopeds and scooters to navigate traffic.
Not only are motorized bikes lightweight and nimble, but the financial investment in owning a moped or motor scooter can be much lower than the cost of owning a car.
If you’re considering a more versatile mode of transportation, you may be wondering what the differences are between a motorcycle, a moped and a motor scooter under Florida law.
How does Florida define a motorcycle?
Florida law defines a motorcycle as a motorized bike with the following:
- A saddle or seat
- 3 or fewer wheels
- An engine that is larger than 50 cubic centimeters displacement
Motorcycle riders must have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s licenses.
Similarities and differences between mopeds and motor scooters
People sometimes refer to mopeds and motor scooters synonymously because they can be similar in appearance.
When compared to motorcycles, mopeds and motor scooters have smaller wheels that generally measure between 10 and 16 inches. Both have footrests and engines that are located toward the rear.
Unlike motor scooters, mopeds have pedals. Other unique features of a moped include the following:
- 3 wheels or fewer
- A 2-brake horsepower motor or smaller
- A maximum speed of 30 mph
- An automatic power drive system
Motor scooter features
In contrast, motor scooters typically have:
- Twist-and-go throttles
- Left-hand-activated brakes
- A step-through chassis
- Larger motors than mopeds
Additionally, Florida law also recognizes motorized scooters, which differ from motorcycles, motor scooters and mopeds because they do not have a seat for the rider, have at least 3 wheels, and operate at a maximum speed of 30 mph.
How Florida classifies 2- and 3-wheeled vehicles
Florida imposes different requirements for 2-wheeled vehicles and 3-wheeled vehicles.
Motorcyclists who operate a motorcycle without the required endorsement may face penalties, including jail time.
Florida moped laws
Moped owners in Florida should be aware of the following rules and regulations:
- Moped owners are required to register their vehicles with their local county tax office.
- Moped riders who are under 21 are required to have a special license plate.
- Mopeds cannot be operated in bike lanes or on sidewalks.
- Passengers who are under 16 are required to wear a helmet.
Florida motor scooter laws
Motor scooters do not have a distinct set of rules; therefore, they are governed by Florida’s motorcycle laws. Motor scooter owners must have a motorcycle endorsement on their license if the motor scooter has a seat and an engine with a displacement of more than 50 ccs.
Florida motorized scooter laws
Motorized scooters are not considered to be motorcycles; therefore, they do not require the operator to have a special license. Motorized scooters also do not have to be registered or titled, and Florida law does not require motorized scooter operators to be insured.
It’s important to note that motorized scooters are prohibited from driving on sidewalks and bike lanes.
Special considerations for accidents involving motorcycles, mopeds and motor scooters
Riding any motorized bike comes with inherent risks. These types of vehicles generally do not have exterior walls to protect the rider and passenger in the event of a collision. Even an accident that occurs at very low speeds can cause minor scrapes and abrasions.
Common injuries after motorcycle, moped and motor scooter accidents
Additionally, motorcycle, moped and motor scooter accidents are more likely to cause severe injuries like:
- Deep abrasions
- Injury to internal organs
- Spinal cord injuries
When riding your motorcycle, following these safety tips could help you avoid a serious accident.
Common causes of motorcycle, moped and motor scooter accidents
Accidents that involve motorcycles, mopeds and motor scooters are often caused by the same factors that cause accidents between other passenger vehicles.
Nevertheless, vehicles with 2 or 3 wheels are smaller; therefore, they’re at a higher risk of becoming involved in an accident because a person who is driving a larger vehicle may have greater difficulty seeing a vehicle with 2 or 3 wheels.
These accidents are commonly caused by the following:
- Misjudging speed and distance prior to making a left turn
- Failure to check blind spots
- Failure to stop at a stop sign or traffic signal
Motorcycle accidents often stem from a few common causes, but you can take some simple steps to avoid them.
Proving fault in a Florida motorcycle, moped or motor scooter accident
When determining liability after an accident, it’s important to know that Florida is a comparative negligence state, which means that the involved parties will be held financially liable based on their percentage of fault in the accident.
Here’s an example: Let’s say a moped rider was hit after the defendant ran a red light, but the moped rider was driving 5 miles an hour over the speed limit at the time of the accident.
If a judge determined the moped rider to be 10% responsible for their accident because they were speeding when the defendant ran a red light and hit them, the moped owner’s final compensation award would be reduced by their percentage of fault, which in this case is 10%.
Also be aware that if a motorcycle, moped or motor scooter causes a collision due to a defective part, the company that manufactured the part may be responsible for compensating the injured parties.
Determining the cause of an accident can be a complex legal matter. Therefore, it’s always best to contact a personal injury attorney to assist you in determining which parties may be liable in your case.
Contact a Florida motorcycle accident attorney
Unfortunately, judges, juries, police officers and insurance companies can be unfairly biased against motorcycle, moped and motor scooter riders. The justice system often assumes these riders are reckless and are quick to blame them for accidents with other vehicles.
Because of the requirements for proving guilt and the existence of unfair biases, it pays to hire an attorney who is familiar with motorcycle injury cases and is aware of the different obstacles that exist in comparison with other automobile accidents.