Scooter Accidents Lawyer in Boston, MA
Motorized scooter accidents can result in serious and lasting injuries, primarily because, like motorcyclists, scooter riders are poorly protected from direct impact in a collision.
The rising popularity of these lightweight vehicles has been driven by the fact that they are convenient, cost less than cars and are better for the environment. Motorized scooters are more commonly spotted in summer months, but that’s also when more vehicles share the roads, which puts riders at heightened risk of a collision.
If you are seriously injured in a scooter accident that was someone else’s fault, you will need an experienced scooter injury attorney in Boston who can help you fight for coverage of medical bills, lost wages, property damage and other compensable losses.
Your chosen injury attorney should have both the knowledge and the resources to aggressively pursue your claim. Ask to see a proven track record of success.
Our injury lawyers in Boston have prevailed in securing favorable settlements and jury verdicts in scooter accident cases. Overcoming the unique challenges in scooter crash lawsuits starts with clearly identifying what a scooter is and the standards to which operators are held.What is a Motorized Scooter and How Does it Compare to Similar Vehicles?
There are four different types of two- and three-wheeled vehicles classified in Massachusetts law that sometimes get confused. The distinctions are important because rules of operation vary, meaning the driver’s responsibilities on the road may be different on one vehicle compared to another, which could impact the determination of negligence.
Motorized Scooters. Popular models are Vespas and Hondas. Falling under the “limited use vehicle” classification of having two- or three-wheels, they can be ridden seated or standing, but at a speed of no higher than 20 mph. They are powered by electric or gas motors, moving with or without human effort and regulations are outlined in MGL ch. 90 section 1E. The classification specifically excludes motorized bicycles and three-wheeled motorized wheelchairs. Operators must have a driver’s license, unless the vehicle is federally certified and locally registered as a motorcycle (license plate, title, inspection and insurance), in which case drivers have a motorcycle license or permit. Plated vehicles usually can’t be parked on the sidewalk. Riders are subject to all state traffic laws and regulations, except they must always ride to the right of the road – even when passing another vehicle in the same lane – and they must make sure the scooter has functional stop and turn signals so the operator always has his or her hands on the handlebars. No one is permitted to ride a scooter on any road after sunset or before sunrise. Doing so will get you a $25 ticket for a first offense, but beyond that, if you’re injured in a scooter crash at night, it may be a challenge to overcome a defense of comparative negligence per MGL ch. 231 section 85 (meaning you’re mostly to blame for what happened). Additionally, scooter operators are prohibited by statute from having a person ride as a passenger on the scooter.
Moped. Also called motorized bicycles, these go no faster than 30 mph with automatic transmission and an engine that doesn’t exceed 50 cc. They can be pedaled or gas-powered and are considered a lower-speed vehicle. These can operate on many public roads, but not on limited-access or express state highways with posted signs saying bicycles are prohibited. They can be parked on the sidewalk. Per MGL ch. 90 section 1B, moped operators must be at least 16-years-old with a license or learner’s permit (those with a permit can’t take a passenger). Some mopeds meet the limited use requirements, meaning riders can’t simply get a registry sticker. They also must secure title, register and inspection for their moped. They aren’t required to obtain insurance (unless it’s designated a limited use vehicle), but it’s still a good idea to protect yourself in the event of a crash as serious injuries are common.
Low Speed Vehicles. These are typically small vehicles with four wheels and a top speed of 25 mph, according to federal standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They look similar to golf carts and are intended for use to make short trips for social, shopping and recreational purposes, mostly in planned or retirement communities; state law only allows them on roads with speed limits of 30 mph (which means they are generally allowable on most local streets). These vehicles are exempt from federal safety standards that apply to motor vehicles, so there are no criteria for crashworthiness, though they do need to have headlamps, taillamps, stop lamps, reflectors, mirrors, a parking brake, windshield and seat belts. Massachusetts began registering low-speed vehicles in 2009.
Limited Use Vehicles. These are vehicles that have two or more wheels, travel faster than 30 mph but not more than 40 mph and can be classified as a motorcycle or passenger vehicle, depending on how many wheels. LUVs operated on public ways need to be registered, titled, insured and inspected. Operators need a driver’s license or learner’s permit (Class D if it’s classified as a passenger vehicle or a Class M permit if it’s designated a motorcycle). These vehicles aren’t allowed on expressways or limited access roads, or any roads where the speed limit exceeds 40 mph.
MGL ch. 90 s. 1C requires both motorized bicycles and scooters to comply with federal motor vehicle safety standards.
It’s important that operators of motorized scooters be licensed and insured as required. Several municipalities around Boston have reported in recent years a surge of unlicensed drivers operating scooters and mopeds on public roads. If you aren’t properly licensed, you won’t be properly insured. That will make you personally liable for any injuries you cause, and it could impact you if another motorist was negligent and doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries. Uninsured/ underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) benefits are a good idea for all riders.Scooter Injuries in Massachusetts
Scooter riders suffer disproportionate rates of serious injury and death in collisions compared to those in larger passenger vehicles because their only protection from the pavement and other fixed objects is a DOT-approved helmet and proper clothing. A significant number of scooter accident victims are ejected from the vehicle, putting them at high risk of injury.
A study in the Journal Trauma found that sales of scooters and mopeds rose about 60 percent in the last several years. Researchers analyzed more than 5,600 crashes involving these smaller vehicles and concluded several risk factors were associated with higher rates of severe injury versus non-severe injuries in scooter crashes. Those risk factors were:
- Alcohol and drug use by riders;
- Failure to wear a helmet (only 17 percent of those seriously injured were wearing a DOT-approved helmet);
- Unpaved roads;
- Driving at speeds higher than 20 mph;
- Riding on roadways with four or more lanes;
- Poor lighting.
Finally, they found 9 in 10 scooter and moped riders were not insured.
Our experienced Boston motorcycle accident attorneys know crash victims may have several legal options to recover damages. In a free initial consultation, we can examine the facts of your case and help you identify the best course of action.
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