More Lexical Ambiguity: Is a Motorized Wheelchair a Vehicle?

The ABA Journal contains this item about how Florida police are weighing possible charges against a St. Petersburg man whose motorized wheelchair collided with a scooter, killing the other driver. Apparently, the charges could range from jaywalking to reckless driving, depending on whether the wheelchair is considered a motor vehicle.

What bearing does this have on contract drafting? It’s not much of a stretch to imagine a similar sort of dispute regarding the meaning of motor vehicle as used in a contract—although with different facts! This story brings to mind this June 2009 AdamsDrafting blog post about a dispute over the meaning of offshore.

As I noted in this October 2010 AdamsDrafting blog post, spotting lexical ambiguity requires imagination. That’s why I take the liberty of alluding to it periodically.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

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