After someone injures you in an e-bike accident, California law gives you the right to seek compensation.
Electric bikes are more popular than ever on California’s streets. These zippy little machines, also called e-bikes, motorized bikes, and pedal bikes, help make biking faster, easier, and more accessible for everyone.
But with so many more e-bikes on the road, there are so many more e-bike accidents! California cities are trying hard to prevent motor vehicle collisions by adding more bike lanes and other safety features to keep everyone riding safely together on the road. Still, E-bike and car accidents happen every day.
At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we’re avid cyclists, so we truly understand and care about your struggles after an e-bike accident. Our law firm will help you review your options for seeking compensation and provide you with much-needed legal advice with a free e-bike accident case evaluation.
What’s Classified as an E-Bike in California?
California views e-bikes slightly differently from regular bikes. The state divides e-bikes into three main categories according to the top speed the e-bike can travel using its electronic riding assistance.
- Class 1: E-bike with a top assisted speed of 20 mph, with pedaling
- Class 2: E-bike with a top assisted speed of 20 mph, without pedaling
- Class 3: E-bike with a top assisted speed of 28 mph
In most cases, these categories don’t matter much to the bike/bicycle accident victims. However, in certain situations, the top speed of the e-bike is a factor— for example, when an accident investigator is calculating the traveling speed and force of impact during an accident.
What’s the Typical E-Bike Accident in California?
E-bike accidents happen when someone like a motorist, Uber driver, truck driver, scooter rider, pedestrian, or other cyclist collides with an e-bike rider. These accidents can cause severe injuries to e-cyclists’ bodies because they’re so exposed to the forces of a crash.
There’s no “typical” e-bike crash because there are so many factors that go into every individual collision. However, personal injury lawyers tend to see certain types of e-bike crashes arise again and again.
Turning and Side-Impact E-Bike Crashes
A right-turn crash happens when a car slams into an e-cyclist while turning right. It’s a driver’s responsibility to ensure their path is clear before making a turn, but sometimes they don’t check before turning. Right-side crashes occur when cars drive too close to e-cyclists and sideswipe them, knocking them down and/or into traffic.
E-Bike Dooring Accidents
A dooring accident happens when a driver opens their door and hits an e-bike rider or creates a situation where the e-cyclist has no time to react and runs into the door. Being doored is a nightmare for any cyclist and can cause severe injuries.
E-Bike Collisions at Intersections
Many e-bike accidents happen at intersections, where other drivers might not respect the e-cyclist’s right to use the intersection or may simply not see them. Vehicles sometimes run red lights and/or exceed the speed limit, then hit e-cyclists and severely injure or kill them.
E-Bikes Hit by Distracted Drivers
Distracted driving is an enormous problem across the country that causes 2,800 deaths and 400,000 injuries per year. A driver might overlook an e-bike while messing with their cell phone, adjusting an in-car display, chatting with passengers, or doing lots of other things.
E-Bikes Hit by Drunk Drivers
More than 1,000 people die due to drunk driving in California every year. Some of these are cyclists who were simply riding in bike lanes at the time, unaware that a drunk driver was about to put their life at risk.
Poorly-Lit and Dangerous Roads
Could a government or municipality be partly to blame for your e-bike accident? Maybe the bike lane was full of debris, poorly lit, or improperly marked and led you into danger. Talk to your lawyer about whether a government entity may play a role in your e-bike crash.
Do E-Bikes Have to Ride in Bike Lanes?
Here in California, e-bikes aren’t required to use bike lanes at all times. There are many times when you may legally ride outside a bike lane to protect your safety and travel carefully.
Our state has many laws that protect your rights to share the roads, enter and exit bike lanes, and generally travel safely. Don’t let a motorist blame you for the accident simply because you weren’t in a bike lane!
Common Bike Lane Accident Injuries
There are many types of injuries you could have after an e-bike accident. The extent of your injuries will likely depend on the severity of the crash. Here are some common injuries.
- Knee injuries
- Wrist injuries
- Road rash
- Torn muscles and ligaments
- Back and spinal injuries
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Chest and ribcage impact injuries
- Broken bones
- Loss of feeling in the limbs
- Soft tissue injuries like bumps and bruises
- Limited range of motion
- Problems with balance
- Nerve damage
- Chronic pain
You might also have long-lasting mental and emotional injuries that need significant psychological treatment. If you seek treatment for depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), your costs could be covered by an insurance claim or lawsuit.
The Deadline for E-Bike Accident Claims
E-bike accident claims have a legal deadline known as the statute of limitations. It’s usually within two years of the date of the accident, but sometimes this period shortens if you’re dealing with a government entity.
The clock starts ticking the day of your e-bike accident, so don’t wait too long. Talk to a bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible to start building a strong case, or you could lose your right to claim compensation forever.
Who’s Liable for Your E-Bike Accident?
E-bikes are relatively new, so you might wonder if liability will be unclear for your accident. However, California already has many laws in place that cover e-bike accidents along with bike accidents, scooter accidents, and other similar situations.
Determining liability is important in these cases. It will depend on numerous factors that judges, juries, lawyers, and insurance companies typically consider.
Factors in e-bike accidents may include:
- The bicycle laws that are relevant to your accident
- Where and when the crash occurred
- Who was involved in the crash
- The weather and road conditions
- Police reports
- Witness accounts
- Expert witness testimony
- How each person was positioned in the crash
- Damage to vehicles and your e-bike
- Drunk, drugged, or distracted driving
- Video footage
In many cases, the other person is liable for your accident. Sometimes a municipality plays a role in creating an unsafe situation. There’s also a chance that an e-bike manufacturer made an unsafe machine, and you could start a product liability lawsuit.
California is a comparative negligence state, meaning the fault may be split among parties with each receiving a proportion of the blame and compensation. That’s good for you because it means even if you share partial fault, you can still claim partial compensation.
How to Protect Yourself and Your Claim
After a severe e-bike accident, you need a lawyer as soon as possible. Before you know it, you’ll have a pile of medical bills and calls from insurance companies, and you’ll need to decide on your next steps. Here are some important things to do.
Preserve any evidence you may have, like debris from the accident and your demolished e-bike. The more evidence you have, the better, especially if it matches the details listed in the police report.
As soon as possible after the e-bike accident, photograph your injuries, including any cuts, bruises, deformities, or scarring. Continue to document these injuries even as they heal. Also, photograph your medical gear like crutches, casts, slings, canes, and so forth.
Make sure to save your medical records and keep track of your medical costs. This is a huge part of determining the value of your claim, even if many of your costs are covered by your health insurance. Track all of your out-of-pocket costs that have arisen too, like bus fares, Uber rides, and copays.
Open a claim with the other person’s insurance company. Don’t start this step without a lawyer! And don’t provide personal information, like your social security number, without talking to your lawyer.
Also, don’t talk about it on social media. An e-bike accident is traumatic and shakes up your life, so it might feel irresistible to update your friends on social media. But this gives the other side information that could ruin your case.
How an E-Bike Accident Lawyer Helps Your Case
You can try to handle your case yourself, but it’s a stressful and risky thing to do. An insurance company will typically toss out a lowball offer when they know you don’t have a lawyer. They’ll assume you don’t know what you’re doing and that your costs will be minimal.
Plus, an insurance company usually offers compensation for your past medical bills, but what about your future treatment? Your mental health counseling? Your lost days of work? The value of your e-bike?
Don’t discount your pain and suffering because it deserves to be valued. Your compensation for pain and suffering is protected by California law and should never be undervalued by an insurance company that’s pressing you for a quick settlement.
At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we don’t take our fee until the conclusion of your case after you’ve already covered the costs of your e-bike accident. So let’s talk about your crash in a free and confidential consultation and start building your case!
We Handle Your Accident Claim so You Can Focus on Your Life
After an e-bike accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including e-bike and traffic accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details.
We truly care about California’s injured people. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation or call 877-380-8852.