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Navigating Electric Bike Accidents: 

What To Do next?

January 18, 2024

Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are becoming increasingly prevalent on roads and trails. These bicycles are equipped with an electric motor that assists riders in pedaling, offering an additional boost to their cycling efforts. As electric bikes gain popularity as a convenient and eco-friendly mode of transportation, it’s crucial to understand the potential risks and necessary steps in case of an accident.  


California Laws and Regulations About Electric Bikes

Navigating California’s legal terrain is crucial for anyone riding or driving alongside electric bikes. The state classifies electric bikes into three distinct categories based on their maximum speed and motor power, each with its own set of rules and regulations. This classification sheds light on the responsibilities and rights of both riders and drivers.

An electric bicycle is defined as a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor not exceeding 750 watts. The three established classes of electric bicycles are as follows:


  • Class 1: These are low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycles with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, ceasing assistance at 20 mph.
  • Class 2: This category includes low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycles. The motor is used exclusively to propel the bicycle and cannot provide assistance beyond 20 mph.
  • Class 3: These are low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycles equipped with a speedometer. The motor provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and stops at 28 mph.


Operators of Class 3 electric bicycles must adhere to specific regulations:

  • Be 16 years old or older.
  • Wear a bicycle safety helmet.
  • Avoid transporting passengers.
  • Ride in a bicycle lane if authorized by local authority or ordinance.

It’s noteworthy that all electric bicycle classes are exempt from motor vehicle financial responsibility, driver’s license, and license plate requirements under California Vehicle Code Section 24016. Understanding these classifications and associated regulations is essential for ensuring a safe and legal experience with electric bikes in California.


Are Electric Bikes Dangerous?

Electric bikes, while offering a sustainable and efficient mode of transportation, can pose significant dangers to riders. Understanding the potential risks and the severity of injuries associated with these accidents is crucial for both riders and other road users.


Potential Dangers:

  1. Collision with Other Vehicles: Electric bikes share the road with various vehicles, and collisions can occur when there’s a lack of awareness or adherence to traffic rules. The vulnerability of riders compared to occupants of enclosed vehicles increases the risk of severe injuries.
  2. Obstacles on the Road: Uneven surfaces, potholes, or debris on the road can become hazards for electric bike riders. A seemingly minor obstacle can lead to loss of control and result in an accident.
  3. Malfunctioning Equipment: Electric bikes rely on motors and batteries, and malfunctions can happen. Mechanical failures or electrical issues may lead to sudden stops, causing accidents.


Common Injuries:

  1. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Head injuries are a significant concern in electric bike accidents. A traumatic brain injury can occur if the rider is thrown off the bike or hits their head on a hard surface. Helmets are crucial in mitigating the risk of TBI.
  2. Spine Injuries: The impact of a collision can lead to spine injuries, affecting the spinal cord and resulting in varying degrees of paralysis.
  3. Loss of Limb: Severe accidents may result in traumatic injuries leading to the loss of limbs. Riders may suffer amputations or severe damage to arms or legs.
  4. Lacerations: Contact with sharp objects or surfaces during an accident can cause lacerations and deep cuts, leading to extensive bleeding and scarring.
  5. Burns: In cases where electric bike batteries are involved, accidents can lead to fires or chemical burns. The corrosive nature of some battery components poses additional risks.
  6. Fractures and Sprains: The impact of a collision can cause fractures or sprains to various parts of the body, including the arms, legs, and collarbone.
  7. Emotional Trauma: Beyond physical injuries, riders may experience emotional trauma, including anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), impacting their overall well-being.

It’s essential for electric bike riders to recognize these potential dangers and take preventive measures. Wearing protective gear, following traffic rules, and maintaining their bikes in good condition can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and associated injuries.

How to Proceed After an Electric Bike Accident

Experiencing an electric bike accident can be distressing, but knowing the right steps to take afterward is crucial for your well-being and potential legal actions. This comprehensive guide outlines the essential measures to ensure your safety, document the incident, and protect your rights.

1. Ensure Personal Safety:

  • Move to a Safe Location: If possible, move yourself and the electric bike to a safe area away from traffic to prevent further injuries.
  • Check for Injuries: Assess yourself for any injuries and prioritize seeking medical attention if needed.

2. Document the Scene:

  • Call Emergency Services: Dial emergency services to report the accident and request medical assistance and police presence.
  • Gather Information: Collect relevant information, including the names and contact details of involved parties, witnesses, and the responding officers.
  • Take Photographs: Use your phone or camera to capture images of the accident scene, damages to the bike, and any visible injuries. These visuals can serve as valuable evidence.

3. Seek Medical Attention:

  • Accept Medical Aid: Allow paramedics to examine you even if injuries seem minor. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
  • Follow Medical Advice: Adhere to medical recommendations for treatment and follow-up care. Keep detailed records of medical expenses.

4. Report the Incident:

  • File a Police Report: Cooperate with law enforcement in filing a detailed police report. Ensure accuracy in providing your account of the accident.
  • Obtain a Copy: Request a copy of the police report for your records. It serves as crucial documentation for insurance claims and potential legal proceedings.

5. Preserve Evidence:

  • Keep Records: Maintain a personal file with all accident-related documents, including medical records, bills, correspondence with insurance companies, and the police report.
  • Preserve Evidence: Retain any damaged clothing, the electric bike, and other relevant items as potential evidence.

6. Contact a Legal Professional:

  • Consult an Attorney: Reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney specializing in electric bike accidents. They can provide legal guidance, assess the strength of your case, and determine potential avenues for compensation.
  • Know Your Rights: Understand your rights regarding insurance claims, liability, and possible legal actions. An attorney can explain the legal process and represent your interests.

7. Notify Your Insurance Company:

  • Report the Incident: Inform your insurance company about the accident promptly. Provide factual information and avoid admitting fault before consulting with your attorney.

8. Stay Informed and Engage:

  • Follow Up: Stay informed about your case’s progress and actively communicate with your attorney. Promptly respond to any requests for additional information or actions.

By following these steps, you not only prioritize your well-being but also establish a foundation for potential legal actions. Seeking professional legal advice ensures that you navigate the aftermath of an electric bike accident with clarity and confidence.


Conclusion:

As electric bikes continue to share the road with traditional vehicles, staying informed and prepared is essential. Recognizing their potential risks and understanding the aftermath of accidents empowers riders and promotes safer roads. Mercado & Sacramento, PC Auto Accident Attorneys are dedicated to assisting individuals in their journey to recovery after an electric bike accident. Contact us today for personalized legal guidance.

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