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What Can New Yorkers Do After an E-bike Crash Causes Injuries?

A recent study of the differences between traditional bicycle and e-bike crash victims’ injuries has revealed a sad truth: injuries from e-bike crashes tend to be more serious than traditional bicycle crashes, and are more similar to motorcycle crashes.

According to the study, e-bike injuries tend to resemble motorcycle injuries more than bicycle injuries. This is because many riders seem to believe the e-bike is closer to a bicycle than a motorcycle, and ride without a helmet believing that it’s safe. Because e-bikes also tend to be marketed toward elderly bicyclists, additional age-related complications and secondary injuries like internal bleeding are showing up in the data for e-bike injuries.

Specifically, the study found that e-bike riders who don’t wear a helmet are six times more likely to suffer an intra-cranial hemorrhage, and 13 times more likely to suffer a subdural hemorrhage. The study also found that e-bike users have significantly higher rates of soft-tissue injuries to the face than bicyclists do. While a bike helmet worn by an e-bike user may provide some brain protection, motorcyclists protect themselves from soft tissue face injuries with full-face motorcycle helmets.

According to the data, 33% of conventional bicyclists admitted to the hospital after a crash were wearing a helmet, compared to 68% of e-bike riders and 92% of motorcyclists. Because e-bike injuries are more similar to motorcycle injuries than bicycle injuries, it should be stressed to the public that helmets are a must for safety.

The rights of New York E-bike riders after a crash

E-bikes and scooters were legalized in NYS in 2020. The law created four classes of e-bikes:

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

The recovery of losses resulting from an e-bike accident are largely influenced by the top speed of your bike.

If your e-bike or scooter has a top speed of 20 MPH or below, then you are considered a pedestrian under the law and a “covered person” under New York State’s no-fault laws; this means that no matter your role or level of fault in the crash, the driver’s car insurance will cover your expenses and lost wages up to $50,000.

If your e-bike is able to exceed 20 MPH, then you are not going to be covered by no-fault insurance, just like a motorcyclist. In this case, you have to try to recover damages from the driver’s Personal Injury Insurance, assuming they have some responsibility for causing the crash and injury. If the crash was a hit-and-run, and you have a separate auto insurance policy, you might be able to recover some damages as well.

Finally, if you are a pedestrian, and an e-bike or e-scooter hits you and causes an injury, your own personal injury insurance from your car insurance may cover some of the damages. At this time, e-bike riders are not required to carry insurance in New York State.