Articles Posted in Scooter Accident

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In its most recent issue, the Key West Citizen inserted a photograph of the driver of a scooter laying in the middle of the road, on a stretcher, receiving emergent care from Key West firefighters.

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That scene is all too common in Key West and repeats itself several times a day throughout the entire Florida Keys. Over the years, fatal and catastrophic accidents involving people driving scooters and pedestrians have remained almost double the average for the rest of the State of Florida. In fact, between 1992 and 2006, the number of fatal accidents to pedestrians alone is almost twice as high as for the rest of Florida (7.7 per 100,000 in Monroe County; 4.3 per 100,000 in Florida)

Every year, millions of tourists visit the Florida Keys. While some of them are cruise passengers and can only stay less than a day, most tourists will spend an average of 3 days in and around Key West. The preferred mode of transportation is to rent a scooter and ride the Key West streets while enjoying the scenery. Scooters are fun to ride, cheaper than renting a car, and ideal for the streets of Key West. As fun as it sounds, riding a scooter or a moped is more dangerous than it seems, in Key West in particular.

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Florida Statute 316.075 is very clear: (c)(1) Vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until a green indication is shown. The law in Florida is crystal clear, and it applies uniformly to all vehicles, with the exception of emergency vehicles, such as an ambulance, a police car or a firetruck, provided that they are using their emergency lights and sirens.

Citizen accident photo.jpgOn a winter night in Key West, Stuart Kemp was riding his scooter in the streets of Key West. He approached an intersection, and having the green light, he proceeded to cross the intersection. That is when, in a split second, a vehicle coming out of nowhere hit him on the side, and Stuart was thrown into a cement wall, seriously injured. The vehicle that hit him was an ambulance.

At trial, the driver of the ambulance claimed that he was on an emergency transport and therefore had the right of way. The evidence however showed that the driver did not have his emergency lights turned on, nor his emergency siren sounding. Without warning to the public of an emergency, Stuart kemp had no reason to believe that a speeding ambulance was going to run a red light, let alone crash into him. After a nine-day trial, both the ambulance driver, who failed to turn on the vehicle’s emergency lights and siren, and the ambulance company were found negligent in the incident. The plaintiff, who was passing through a green light, was not at fault in the accident, the jury decided, while unanimously awarding a $2.1 million verdict to the plaintiff after three hours of deliberation.

As a result of this catastrophic collision, Stuart Kemp was permanently injured and disfigured. “When he was hit, his face went into the side of the wall. It broke all the bones in the side of his face,” said Ira Leesfield, Stuart Kemp’s attorney. The accident knocked out his front teeth and gums, and also fractured Kemp’s back in three places, crushing 75 percent of one vertebrae, Leesfield said. Stuart Kemp was airlifted to Jackson Memorial hospital in Miami where he stayed for 12 days. Key West rallied around Kemp, who is an owner of Nine One Five on Duval Street, and raised money for his $123,053 in medical expenses.

Senior Managing Partner Ira Leesfield, and Partners Tom Scolaro and Patricia Kennedy represented Mr. Kemp who can now obtain the medical treatment necessary to restore his back and face.
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