Electric bikes are an increasingly popular mode of transportation. Also called “e-bikes”, they are bicycles with an integrated electric motor, which can increase the propulsion of the bike. There are many different styles, from some e-bikes with small motors that boost the effect of the rider’s pedaling power, to more powerful styles that are closer to mopeds. Mopeds and e-bikes are not the same, however, as most types of e-bikes are not fully motorized and still require the rider to pedal to move forward.
The electric motor of an e-bike provides a boost in power to the bike. This means that the rider does not have to pedal as hard to accelerate and keep it moving, especially up hills. So, they offer easier rides and faster speeds. One advantage is that a rider can ride for a longer time.
For the most part, e-bike accidents can happen just as bicycle accidents with any other type of bike. However, the fact that they are motorized means that there are some special dangers to e-bikes. E-bikes handle differently than regular bikes. They can accelerate and move faster than regular bikes.
For example, a rider might apply too much throttle when starting the e-bike from a dead stop. The effect of this is that the bike immediately rolls up on its rear wheel and throws the rider back and off the bike. Reportedly, this is the number one cause of e-bike accidents. In most cases, the rider is not seriously injured, because this particular accident happens at a low speed, but that is hardly guaranteed in every situation.
Another danger is the fact that an e-bike may be traveling faster than a regular bike, but it is silent, so other bike riders and pedestrians may not hear it approaching from behind. This can create a risk of accidents as other riders and pedestrians can easily move in front of an e-bike when unaware that it is approaching from behind. The same is true of e-scooters.
Pedestrians and others may also misjudge the speed at which an e-bike is traveling. And injuries from e-bike accidents can be severe, especially if the accident involves a collision between an e-bike and an automobile, when the e-bike rider may get the worst of it, or between an e-bike and a pedestrian, in which case the pedestrian may get the worst of it.
What Other Issues are Associated With Electric Bikes?
E-bikes can be involved in collisions with pedestrians, other bikes and other motor vehicles on the roadways. There can be electrical issues that can lead to fies and these issues may involve a design defect or a manufacturing defect. In product defect cases, the manufacturer may issue a product recall for defective e-bikes or defective parts.
If a problem with an e-bike affects a large number of people, then a class action lawsuit may be the best option for this group. So, for example, if the electrical components of an e-bike catch fire because of a design defect, and a large group of people suffer injury as result of the defect, a class action lawsuit could be filed on behalf of the group.
Class action lawsuits can help control the costs of filing suit and may be a more efficient way to resolve an issue that affects many victims. For example, instead of many people having to hire expert witnesses to establish the product defect, one expert would be needed for a class action.
Who Can be Held Liable for an Electric Bike Accident?
Depending on the circumstances, various parties may be held liable for an e-bike accident or injury. In the case of accidents or collisions, a person whose negligence caused an accident would be liable and that could include:
- Drivers of motor vehicles;
- Other cyclists; and/or
Another possibility in an e-bike accident is a product liability claim, if it can be shown that the e-bike was defective in some manner. This could be a defect in the design of the e-bike or in its manufacturing. For example, the bike’s frame may not have been designed to be strong enough to tolerate its potential speed and the force with which it can strike other objects, so the frame could fail if the bike is in a collision or encounters other stresses.
The entities who could be liable would be any entity in the chain of manufacturing, from the product designers to e-bike manufacturers and distributors. Any company that was responsible for manufacturing particular parts might also be liable, depending on the facts of a particular case.
The batteries for e-bikes contain lithium, which makes them prone to combusting and burning.
Reportedly there have been many fires involving the lithium in e-bike batteries. Most of them have occurred on e-bikes built by do-it-yourself types, who may make a battery pack by strapping together hobby lithium polymer batteries. But all lithium batteries are prone to combustion, and should be dealt with carefully.
In collision cases, a lawsuit may be based on negligence or recklessness. In negligence cases, the injured victim must show that the other party to the accident, whether that was a cyclist, a pedestrian, or the driver of the car, was negligent under the circumstances, and the result was an accident that caused injury to the victim. In cases based on recklessness, the injured victim would need to show that the other party’s behavior was reckless, or in other words, that they behaved in a manner that showed complete indifference for the safety of others.
Of course, an e-bike rider would also have to ensure that when they ride their e-bike, they obey all rules of the road themselves. That would mean that they must stop at stop signs and pedestrian crossings and observe speed limits, especially on pedestrian pathways where there is sometimes a special speed limit for bikes. Otherwise, if an accident occurs, the allegedly negligent party can assert the comparative or contributory negligence of the e-bike rider as a defense.
Awards in e-bike lawsuits may include compensatory damages for the injured victim, intended to cover their losses resulting from the accident. Compensatory damages can include a variety of elements, including hospital and doctors’ bills, property damage, lost wages, and other types of losses as. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the injured victims may also be awarded money for losses such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With an Electric Bike Accident Lawsuit?
If you are facing a lawsuit for an electric bike accident, or if you have been injured as a result of an electric bike accident, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible.
Your lawyer can also enlist the appropriate expert witnesses to review the facts of the accident and determine if a defect in the e-bike, or possibly its battery, may have been at fault in causing the accident. The right attorney can help you to protect your rights under the circumstances of the case, and can advise you of the best way to proceed with your case.