Many people on electric bicycles in Orange County, CA, are tourists and day-trippers who have rented the e-bikes for a few hours of fun. A rider’s unfamiliarity with these vehicles capable of speeds of 20 mph or faster can make them a danger to pedestrians, other bicyclists, motorists, and themselves.
If you have been injured in an e-bike accident in Orange County that was not your fault, the personal injury lawyers of Sam & Ash Injury Law are ready to help you seek full compensation for your losses. You may be eligible to claim compensation for your medical bills and other losses, such as lost income or sick/vacation leave that you had to use while recovering from your injuries.
E-bike Accident Statistics
Hospitals and law enforcement agencies throughout Orange County and Southern California have reported a surge in e-bike accidents and injuries as the popularity of e-bikes has increased.
Through August 2022, there were 59 collisions citywide in Newport Beach involving either manual or electric bicycles for the year. Four of the accidents occurred on the boardwalk. In 2021, there were 126 reported manual or e-bike collisions citywide, including seven e-bike collisions reported on the boardwalk.
Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach reported six pediatric e-bike injuries in 2020 and 38 during the first 10 months of 2021. There were also two fatal e-bike accidents toward the end of 2021 involving adult riders.
Common Causes of Electric Bike Accidents
Riders on e-bikes do not have the protection that a four-wheeled motor vehicle offers occupants. E-bike riders can easily be injured in accidents or hurt others. Accidents on electric bikes may be caused by:
- Over-acceleration / loss of control. The speeds an e-bike can reach pose a danger to less experienced e-bike users who don’t understand the vehicle’s power. It is not unusual for an inexperienced e-bike rider to over-accelerate and lose control of the vehicle, leading to a bicycle accident.
- Negligence and recklessness. E-bike riders pose a risk of injury to pedestrians and others when riders fail to follow traffic rules, including disobeying speed limits and disregarding other restrictions imposed on e-bikes.
- Less visibility in traffic. Many e-bike accidents occur when riders leave designated bike paths and encounter cars and other motor vehicles on roadways. Accidents can happen because four-wheeled vehicle drivers are not looking out for the smaller vehicles and because e-bike riders behave in ways that are unpredictable.
- E-bike batteries can catch fire. The e-bike rider is not always at fault. Most e-bikes have lithium batteries, which are highly combustible. Fires can occur due to improper maintenance, faulty construction, or regulatory noncompliance on the part of manufacturers. Users may contribute to the danger by causing damage that causes the battery to short, exposing the battery to intense heat, or using an improper battery charger.
Types of E-bike Injuries
An individual in an e-bike accident typically falls to the ground or is thrown against a structure or the body of a vehicle. This may occur in a collision with a motor vehicle, another bicyclist, a tree, or some kind of structure.
E-bike accident injuries often involve blunt-force trauma and may include:
- Broken bones, particularly in the arms, hands, legs, skull, and facial bones
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Internal organ injuries
- Spinal cord injuries, potentially including paralysis
- Sprains and strains, particularly affecting the lower back or major joints, such as knees, ankles, and elbows
- Cuts, bruises, and scrapes, including road rash injuries from falling and sliding on asphalt
- Burns from lithium battery fires
E-bike Laws and Regulations in California
According to California law, electric bicycles are bicycles with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts. They are classified as:
- Class 1: A low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance when the rider is pedaling and stops assisting if the bike reaches 20 mph.
- Class 2: A low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle and which will stop propelling the bike if it reaches 20 mph.
- Class 3: A pedal-assisted electric bicycle equipped with a speedometer and a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and stops assisting if the bike reaches 28 mph.
Electric bicycle riders are subject to California’s Vehicle Code for the operation of bicycles, which gives them many of the rights and responsibilities of motor vehicle drivers.
All Class 3 e-bike riders must by law:
- Be 16 years old or older
- Wear a bicycle safety helmet
- Not transport passengers.
Local governments have the authority to restrict or specify the conditions for the operation of all classes of e-bicycles on paths or trails. Class 3 e-bikes are allowed in bike lanes adjacent to public roads but are not allowed on bike paths or trails unless authorized by local ordinance.
Contact a Newport Beach Electric Bike Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in an e-bike accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, the at-fault party may be held responsible for your losses from the accident, such as medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and more.
The e-bike accident lawyers of Sam & Ash Injury Law understand e-bike accidents and the negligence that often causes them. We’re ready to provide you with personalized legal services geared toward you and your unique case.