A moped is a type of vehicle that has two wheels and is equipped with pedals and a low-powered engine. It may be confused with a motorcycle or scooter. Mopeds are a common economical form of transportation in the United States.
The term moped, short for motor-pedal, comes from the bicycle type pedals that the rider uses to propel the vehicle to start the motor. A moped typically only reaches a maximum speed of 28 miles per hour. Because of this, they should not be used on highways, as they are unable to maintain speed with other traffic.
The ending of the moped is designed to assist the driver while they are pedaling and only to provide a portion of the power. The moped has a basic electrical system but can be ridden with the pedals alone.
In some states, whether or not a vehicle is considered a moped is defined by engine size. In other states, whether or not a vehicle is a moped is defined by the maximum speed it can reach.
What are Moped Accidents?
Similar to other types of accidents involving bicycles, motorcycles, or cars, moped accidents focus on liability. In other words, who is at fault for the accident must be determined before an individual can receive any compensation for damage to their vehicle or injuries.
What is Negligence in a Moped Accident?
Negligence is a legal theory under which injured individuals can recover for the carelessness of others. An individual may be negligent if they were careless given the circumstances of the situation.
For example, an individual may be negligent in causing a car accident if they did not show proper regard for the safety of others while operating their motor vehicle. There is no intent required to be negligent. In other words, a plaintiff is not required to prove the defendant intentionally caused the accident. Instead, the plaintiff must prove liability by showing the four elements of negligence were present.
How is Negligence Proven?
There are four main elements a plaintiff must show to prove negligence in most jurisdictions. These elements may vary, so it is essential to consult with a local attorney. The four legal elements include:
- A duty of care;
- A breach of the duty of care;
- Causation; and
A duty is a responsibility that one individual owes to another. Generally, individuals going about their business in daily life owe a duty of reasonable care. Reasonable care is the care an ordinary, reasonable, prudent individual would exercise in the same situation.
In the context of automobiles, this duty is that which an individual is required by law to use when operating a motor vehicle to avoid harming another or causing an accident. For example, if an individual is driving during a rainstorm, they should exercise reasonable care by slowing down, turning on their headlights, and turning on their windshield wipers. An individual would not be exercising reasonable care if they were instead driving twenty miles over the speed limit during the rainstorm.
A breach of the duty of care occurs when an individual’s level of care falls below that which is required by their duty. In the context of automobile operation, a breach of duty occurs when an individual drives in such a way that they are likely to cause harm to another or an automobile accident. The individual speeding in the rainstorm in the previous example is breaching their duty of care while operating a motor vehicle.
Causation requires an individual to show that the defendant caused an injury by breaching their duty of care. The legal test for causation can be complex, but a basic test is known as the “but for test.” In other words, but for the actions of the defendant, the injury or accident would not have occurred.
Causation can be actual or proximate. The “but for” test is the test for actual cause. A defendant is the proximate cause of an accident when their actions indirectly caused the injury or accident and made them legally liable.
In the context of operating automobiles, a defendant would be the actual cause of an accident if they rear-ended the plaintiff’s vehicle because, but for the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff’s vehicle would not have been damaged. A defendant may be a proximate cause in a car accident in a case where, like the previous example, they were speeding in a rainstorm and had to swerve to avoid an obstacle in the road, causing another vehicle to run off the road and suffer damages or injury.
Compensatory damages are awarded as compensation for property damage or injuries caused by the defendant. Compensation may be awarded for:
- Actual injuries;
- Medical or rehabilitation costs;
- Property damages;
- Emotional distress;
- Lost wages; or
- Future lost wages.
It is important to note that the plaintiff must show all elements of negligence in order to have a successful claim.
What Types of Compensation Can I Receive?
Compensatory damages are awarded to a plaintiff to restore them to the position they were in prior to the harm or loss. These types of damages are awarded in cases in which damages, injuries, or losses have occurred. Most moped accidents involve property damage to the moped as well as injury to the driver.
There are two main types of compensatory damages that may be awarded. These include general damages and special damages. General damages may be awarded for a loss that is not easily determined by monetary calculations. This may include losses in connection with:
Special damages are damages awarded with the intent to restore an injured party to the position they were in prior to the harm or injury occurring. These damages include things that can be calculated, such as:
- Medical expenses;
- Property damage;
- Loss of wages or earnings; or
- Other quantifiable losses.
It is important to note that the laws regarding compensatory damages may vary by state. Some states place limits on the amount of compensatory damages a plaintiff can receive, especially in the general damages category.
As previously noted, an injured plaintiff in a moped accident may be entitled to recover compensation for:
- Lost wages;
- Medical expenses;
- Pain and suffering;
- Physical therapy;
- Loss of earning capacity;
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of quality of life; or
- Other issues that may arise as a result of the accident.
How are Compensatory Damages Calculated?
A court will typically consider a wide range of factors when calculating compensatory damages. These may include:
- The background of the plaintiff, such as their age;
- The type of injury;
- The extent of the injury;
- The costs associated with treating or rehabilitating the plaintiff;
- Any differences or losses in the plaintiff’s ability to earn a wage before and after the incident;
- Actual loss of income;
- The amount of property damage that resulted from the accident; and
- Any other impacts on the plaintiff’s quality of life.
It is important to note that there may be circumstances in which a plaintiff’s damages award is reduced or limited. For example, if the plaintiff contributed to their own injury, it may affect the amount of damages they can collect under contributory negligence laws.
Should I Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney about My Moped Accident?
It is essential to have the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney for any moped accident issues. As previously noted, the theory of negligence may be complex and vary by state. An attorney will be familiar with this concept and the evidence required to prove it in court. Your attorney can advise you on the laws in your jurisdiction, the possibility of a damages award, and represent you during any court proceedings, if necessary.