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What are your rights in a New York e-bike accident?

The use of throttle-based bicycles (also known as e-bikes) and scooters were legalized in New York State in the spring of 2020. 

The law created four classifications of e-bikes and e-scooters:

  • E-bike with pedal assist – 20 MPH Speed Limit, helmet recommended 
  • E-bike with throttle up to 20 MPH & pedal assist – helmet recommended
  • E-bike with throttle up to 25 MPH, pedal assist – helmet required
  • E-scooters – 15 MPH speed limit, helmet recommended

Statewide, riders can only ride in designated bike lanes and streets with speed limits no greater than 30 MPH. Although drivers licenses are not required for any e-bike or e-scooter, riders must be at least 16 years old.

Cities like Kingston, Newburgh and Poughkeepsie all have city-wide speed limits of 30 MPH, allowing e-bikes full access. However, more rural areas have a mix of local roads and highways that cover long distances with higher speed limits. To address this, local authorities are given latitude to allow e-bikes on a wider variety of roads, as well as require greater amounts of reflective clothing and safety gear like helmets. 

This month, the Town of New Paltz was the first town in the Hudson Valley to expand the use of e-bikes to include all of their roads, citing that only 9 of their 57 miles of roads were e-bike legal under the original state law.

What to do if you get into an e-bike accident in the Hudson Valley?

As a rider, a key question to your recovery of damages lies in the top speed of your e-bike or scooter. If your e-bike or scooter has a top speed of 20 MPH, then you are considered a pedestrian under the law and a “covered person” under New York State’s no-fault laws. No fault insurance means that regardless of your level of fault in the crash, the driver’s car insurance will pay for up to $50,000 of your medical expenses and lost wages resulting from injuries.

If your e-bike is able to exceed 20 MPH, then you are not eligible for no-fault insurance, which is true for motorcyclists as well. In this case, you have to seek to recover damages from the driver’s Personal Injury Insurance, assuming they are responsible for the injury. The main drawback of this is that you would have to wait until the end of negotiations or a lawsuit to recover damages from the insurance company. 

If you were hit by a hit and run driver, and you have your own auto insurance policy, you may be able to recover damages from your own Uninsured Motorist coverage. 

If you were a pedestrian and an e-bike or e-scooter injured you in an accident, and you carry auto insurance, your own Personal Injury Protection insurance may pay some of your medical costs.

There are many possible factors that can affect your ability to obtain the maximum possible compensation for your injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. Give us a call at 845-600-0000 to get a free personal injury consultation at our offices in Kingston, NY or Poughkeepsie, NY. Our team has an outstanding record for recovering the money that you deserve.