Los Angeles Electric Bicycle Accident Attorney
Electric bicycles have become commonplace throughout Los Angeles as a quick way for residents and tourists to get to their destinations. E-bike rental companies, including Lime and Bird, have led to even more e-bikes crowding the streets. People can download an e-bike company's app and easily rent an electric bicycle or electric scooter. However, e-bike accidents are also becoming more common. Accidents involving electric bicycles can result in serious injuries.
Many people are confused about riding e-bicycles and what is legal under California law. Some people are unclear whether they are required to comply with the laws that apply to bicyclists or motorists when they ride e-bikes. Whether you were riding an e-bicycle and were involved in an accident with a car or are a bicyclist or pedestrian and were hit by an e-bicycle, the attorneys at the Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC are prepared to discuss your case and explain the applicable laws and how they might apply to you.Common Types of Injuries That Happen in E-Bike Accidents
Electric bicycles have motors that enable them to travel at nearly twice the speed of regular bikes. They are also much heavier than traditional bicycles, resulting in more serious injuries than accidents involving regular bicycles. Some of the common types of injuries that can result from e-bicycle accidents include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Knee and shoulder injuries
- Back, head, face, and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Motorists sometimes have difficulty gauging the speed of e-bikes and collide with them. In some cases, a motorist will misjudge the speed of an oncoming e-bicycle and turn left in front of the bike, causing the rider to collide with the vehicle. Other accidents occur when an e-bicycle rider is riding an e-bike on the right side of a motorist who turns right and crashes into the rider. Motorists also sometimes collide with e-bicycle riders when they back out of driveways or pull out of parking lots without noticing the e-bikes.
E-bicycle accidents involving pedestrians are also common. E-bicycles can be operated at fast speeds and are quiet. Pedestrians might not hear e-bicycles and step into their paths. In areas with a large number of pedestrians, e-bicycle operators might be unable to avoid collisions with people who are walking. E-bicycles also require a greater stopping distance than a traditional bicycle, causing some operators to misjudge when to apply brakes so that they can stop in time to avoid colliding with others.Classes of E-Bicycles in California
Under Cal. Veh. Code § 312.5, an e-bicycle is defined as a pedaled bicycle that also has a motor of up to 750 watts. There are three classes of e-bicycles under this statute, depending on how fast they can go.
Class 1 e-bicycles with pedal assist are e-bikes in which the motor only provides assistance when the e-bicycle rider is actively pedaling. The motors will not provide any more assistance once the e-bike reaches a speed of 20 mph.
Class 2 e-bicycles have motors that provide throttle on demand even when the e-bicycle rider is not actively pedaling. The motor will cease assistance when the bike reaches a speed of 20 mph.
Class 3 e-bicycles have motors that provide assistance when the e-bike rider is actively pedaling. The motor does not stop providing assistance until the e-bicycle reaches a speed of 28 mph. Class 3 e-bicycles have speedometers.How E-Bicycles Are Treated Under California Law
California does not classify e-bicycles as vehicles, so people do not have to get an operator's permit to ride one. Instead, they are treated similarly to bicycles, and the bicycle laws also apply to e-bikes. Some of these bicycle laws include the following:
- Can ride e-bicycles on the street under Cal. Veh. Code § 21200
- Motorists must provide e-bicycle riders with a safe distance when passing or overtaking them under Cal. Veh. Code § 21750
- E-bicycles must be ridden on the right side of the road as long as it is safe except when moving over to turn left under Cal. Veh. Code § 21202
- E-bicycles must be ridden with the flow of traffic under Cal. Veh. Code § 21650
- Motorists parked along the sides of streets must check for bicycles before opening their doors under Cal. Veh. Code § 22517
- E-bicycle riders must signal when they intend to turn under Cal. Veh. Code §§ 22107 and 22111
- E-bicycle riders under the age of 18 must wear helmets when riding under Cal. Veh. Code § 21212
- E-bicycle riders cannot ride when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs under Cal. Veh. Code § 23152
People of any age, including minors, can ride Class 1 or Class 2 e-bikes in California. However, under Cal. Veh. Code § 21213, people younger than age 16 are not allowed to ride on Class 3 e-bikes.
While minors riding on e-bikes are required to wear helmets, adults are only required to wear them when they are riding on Class 3 e-bikes under Cal. Veh. Code § 21213.
E-bicycle riders are not required to purchase insurance under Cal. Veh. Code § 406(b). However, it is a good idea for e-bike riders to contact their insurance agents and ask about whether their auto insurance policies will cover them when they ride e-bikes and to consider adding coverage.Where E-Bicycles Can Be Ridden
E-bicycles can be ridden on the streets. However, not all e-bikes can be ridden on bicycle paths. There are four classes of bicycle paths in California. A Class 1 bicycle path is a path that is exclusively for the use of pedestrians and cyclists and is located away from motor vehicles. Only Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes can be ridden on Class 1 bicycle paths.
Class 2 bicycle paths are protected one-way paths for cyclists. All e-bikes are allowed on Class 2 paths. Class 3 paths are bicycle paths that are integrated with streets and may or may not have markings. All three e-bike types can be ridden on Class 3 paths. Finally, Class 4 paths are bicycle paths that are integrated with streets and are solely for bicycle traffic. They have barriers erected to separate cyclists from motor vehicle traffic. Only Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes can be operated on Class 4 paths.
Under L.A. Mun. Code 15.76.080, bicycles of any type, including e-bikes, cannot be ridden on the city's sidewalks.Who Is Liable in an E-Bike Accident?
Several parties may be at fault in an e-bike accident. Some of the potentially liable parties might include the following:
- E-bicycle operators
- Traditional cyclists
Some e-bicycle accidents also happen because of defective components. When this happens, victims might file product liability lawsuits against the designer, manufacturer, and others involved in the chain of distribution.
In a car vs. e-bicycle accident that is caused by the negligence of the motorist, the injured victim can file a claim with the motorist's auto insurance policy. If the accident involved a hit-and-run driver, a motorist without insurance, or a motorist with insufficient coverage, an e-bicycle rider might pursue a claim under his or her uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage.
In a pedestrian vs. e-bicycle accident, an injured pedestrian might file a claim with the rider's homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance policy. However, if the e-bicycle rider did not have any coverage, the injured victim might be able to file a claim with his or her UM coverage.Damages in an E-Bicycle Accident Claim
The availability of damages in an e-bicycle accident claim will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. An experienced attorney can review what happened and explain whether a claim has legal merits after making a determination of fault.
After an e-bike accident, you might be able to recover the following types of damages:
- Past, current, and future anticipated medical expenses related to the injuries caused by the accident
- Past lost wages
- Reduction in the plaintiff's earning capacity
- Property losses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Reduced ability to enjoy life
- Loss of consortium or guidance
Depending on the defendant's actions, punitive damages might be available in rare cases. These are damages that are meant to punish defendants who have acted in especially egregious manners and are paid on top of any compensatory damages that a plaintiff might receive.Talk to an Experienced Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in an e-bike accident in Los Angeles that was caused by someone else, you may have the legal right to pursue compensation for your losses. Contact an experienced bicycle accident attorney at the Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC by calling 866.966.5240.