We all know that motorized scooters are great for getting around college campuses such as USF, University of Tampa, or Hillsborough Community College. However, they can be dangerous as they offer little protection for the driver of the vehicle. That danger is further exacerbated when a scooter is taken onto a major thoroughfare such as an interstate like I-75, I-4 or I-275. One collision with a vehicle moving 65-75 MPH and the scooter’s driver is not likely to survive.
Scooter Use on a Highway
The law is pretty clear with regards to scooters and highways: unless they can keep up with the flow of traffic, they should not be used upon such roadways.
Fla. Stat. 316.091(2) states: “No person shall operate upon a limited access facility [essentially a highway] any bicycle, motor-driven cycle, animal-drawn vehicle, or any other vehicle which by its design or condition is incompatible with the safe and expedient movement of traffic.”
The key phrase is, of course, “incompatible with the safe and expedient movement of traffic.” In other words, if you can’t go fast enough to not impede traffic, you shouldn’t be on the highway.
What It Means in Court
In a Florida personal injury action, fault can be apportioned by the jury amongst the tortfeasor (the at-fault party) and the victim of the accident. The victim’s recovery will be reduced by his percentage of fault. To keep things simple, if a jury awards $1 million in damages but thinks the victim is 50% to blame, the victim will only recover $500 thousand.
In Araj v. Renfro, 43 Fla. Law Weekly D2674c (Fla. 5th DCA 2018), the Court reversed and remanded for a new trial a case where the jury awarded $6 million to the driver of a scooter who was killed in a traffic accident. The jury 25% at fault and his award was likewise reduced by that amount.
However, this case was reversed because the DCA held that the jury should have been instructed on Fla. Stat. 316.091(2) regarding the illegality of driving a scooter that can’t keep up on a highway. The court reasoned that had they been so instructed, the jury may have further reduced the award of damages.
Having a Skilled Accident Attorney Matters
As you can see from above, injury law can be complicated. A person’s family in a wrongful death action won’t necessarily recover damages simply because they family member was killed by the negligence of another driver. In considering whether to settle a case or to push it to trial, your attorney must be aware, and make you aware, of the bad with the good.
Call The Bantner Firm today to discuss your wrongful death action at 813.397.3965. We’d love to help you out!