MOPED ACCIDENTS: Liability and Personal Injury Claims in California

There are many ways to get around in California, but riding a moped is a fun and inexpensive way to travel for many people especially students and young people. There are many advantages to riding a moped or scooter including the cost of gas, parking availability, lower insurance rates and registration fees as well as the cost to purchase the vehicle.

On the downside, people who ride these light-weight vehicles have very little protection and may suffer serious injuries even in a low-impact crash. The disadvantage is obvious as other motorists are inherently larger than scooters and mopeds, they often travel at higher speeds and often do not notice smaller motorized vehicles as easily as other motorists.

The safest place to ride a scooter or moped is in traffic lanes with traffic — unless you are pedaling at moped in which case you should ride in the bike lane. These vehicles are far more dangerous when they are ridden in bike lanes using the engine as they move much faster than a bicycle and they are also hazardous to cyclists.


A moped is a hybrid that allows riders to choose between using a motor or pedals to propel it. A scooter has no pedals and is motorized. The scooter is typically lower and wider than a motorcycle and is also likely to be less powerful. The choice of which vehicle to ride is a personal one that varies depending on how far you need to ride, your budget and your purpose for requiring the vehicle.


People who ride mopeds or any motorized vehicle must have a valid M1 motorcycle license to drive, but there are different financial responsibilities depending on the size and speed of the actual bike ridden. See the California Department of Motor Vehicles website for more information.


Anyone who rides a motorized vehicle is required under California law to wear a Department of Transportation approved helmet to protect themselves from a potential head injury or death. You may still suffer injuries even with a helmet, but your injuries may be less severe and survivable than riders without helmets. One of the main reasons people die in moped crashes is they were not wearing a helmet or they suffered a traumatic brain injury in a crash.

it’s important that you obtain insurance including uninsured and underinsured coverage on your policy to protect yourself in the event you are involved in a crash. You are more susceptible to injuries on this type of vehicle and thus it’s vital that you have proper coverage. The minimum policy limits of $10,000 per person and $30,000 per incident, however, this is likely not sufficient to cover your losses if you suffer serious injuries in a crash. It’s best to take out the most insurance you can afford for the best protection.


There’s no denying that people who ride motor vehicles with only two wheels are putting themselves at risk for a serious injury accident. While many people who ride are safe drivers and follow the rules, there will always be other motorists sharing the road who may not be so careful.

Additionally, there are many distracted drivers, reckless drivers and those under the influence of alcohol out there on the roadways and posing a great risk to moped or scooter riders. One way to avoid a collision is to refrain from driving at night when visibility decreases and the chances of distracted or drunken drivers increases.

Here are some recent crashes involving mopeds in California:

In May of 2015, a 16-year-old boy was killed and his 20-year-old passenger was injured on Mother’s Day when the two young people were hit by a 73-year-old driver while riding a moped at the intersection of 26th Street and Olympic Boulevard. The crash took place at 9 p.m. when the teen driver allegedly rode through a red traffic light.

In June, a 22-year-old man was seriously injured when he was hit by a driver of a Toyota Corolla who was exiting a business parking lot on Palm Avenue and failed to yield the right-of-way to the moped rider. The man riding the moped suffered injuries to his pelvis and leg in the crash.

Back in September 2014, two men suffered moderate and critical injuries while traveling on a moped when its driver crashed into the center divider and ejected them both into oncoming traffic on Sunrise Boulevard at Antelope Road in Citrus Heights, California. Neither of the men were wearing helmets as required under California law.


Roughly half of the crashes involving mopeds are the fault of the driver themselves, but the other half is of course due to another motorist. In California, there were 57 moped crashes involving one fatality and 56 injuries in 2013, according to a report by the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Report. The single fatal crash was deemed to be the fault of the moped driver and roughly half of the injury crashes on mopeds were considered the fault of the moped driver. These crashes involved 10 severe injuries, 28 visible injuries and 18 complaints of pain.

There were also 12,352 crashes involving motorcycles and scooters including 318 crashes involving a fatality where the rider themselves was at fault and 6,531 where the rider was at fault in an injury crash. There were also 2,085 severe injuries, 5,871 visible injuries and 3,934 complaints of pain.


If you were injured in a moped accident it’s important to first seek medical treatment and then call a personal injury attorney to help guide you through the legal process. An experienced attorney who handles moped accidents is your best bet if you find yourself in this situation. Johnson Attorneys Group has offices and meeting locations throughout California to best serve you. Call us today at 800-235-6801 for a free consultation.

James Johnson

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