Understanding E-Bike Accidents and Insurance Implications in Ontario

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In recent years, e-bikes have become increasingly popular in Ontario as a green, efficient means of transportation. However, the rise in e-bike usage has also led to more accidents, raising important questions about safety and insurance coverage.

A recent study published in the European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery warned that riders of e-bikes are six times more likely to suffer brain bleeds and thirteen times more likely to suffer subdural hematomas if they do not wear a helmet.   In fact, the pattern of serious head injuries among e-bike riders is more similar to motorcycle riders than to bike riders, even where helmets are worn.

Technical Differences Between E-Bikes and Motorized Scooters

First, it’s crucial to understand what distinguishes an e-bike from a motorized scooter, as this difference affects insurance requirements. In Ontario, e-bikes are classified as bicycles that are equipped with an electric motor to assist with propulsion. They do not require the rider to have insurance. Key features include:

  • They must not weigh more than 120 kg (including the battery and motor).
  • The motor cannot exceed 500 watts in power.
  • They have a maximum speed limit of 32 km/h on level ground.
  • Riders must be 16 years of age or older and wear an approved bicycle helmet.

On the other hand, motorized scooters, often referred to as mopeds or motor scooters, require the rider to have a driver’s license and insurance. These vehicles can travel faster and are not powered by human effort once the motor is engaged.

Statutory Accident Benefits for E-Bike Cyclists

If an e-bike cyclist is injured by a motor vehicle (car, bus or truck), they are entitled to statutory accident benefits, similar to regular cyclists or pedestrians.   For example, earlier in May 2024, CTV reported that a 22 year old Kitchener man driving an e-bike had grave injuries when he was struck by a vehicle at the intersection fo Krug and Becker Streets.

Accident benefits are a part of Ontario’s auto insurance system and are designed to provide financial support regardless of who is at fault in the accident.

Benefits can include:

Medical and Rehabilitation Benefits: Covering medical and rehabilitation costs that exceed provincial health care.

Income Replacement Benefits: Compensating for lost income if the injured party cannot work due to their injuries.

Non-Earner Benefits: For those who cannot carry on a normal life and do not qualify for income replacement.

Caregiver Benefits: Available if the injured person was the primary caregiver for a dependant and cannot continue in that role due to the accident.

Where to Claim These Benefits

If an e-bike rider or a cyclist is involved in an accident with a vehicle, they can claim statutory accident benefits through their own car insurance policy if they have one. If they do not own a vehicle, they can claim through the insurance policy of the vehicle involved in the accident. If that’s not applicable, they can claim through the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund.

Liability Issues with E-Bikes

E-bikes can reach significant speeds and have the power to cause accidents that can injure pedestrians, other cyclists, or even the riders themselves. When an e-bike rider is negligent and causes harm, the situation becomes legally complex because e-bikes do not require traditional vehicle insurance that includes liability coverage.

In cases where an e-bike rider injures someone else, potential sources of liability coverage include the rider’s homeowner or tenant insurance policies. These policies might provide liability coverage that could be used to compensate the injured party.

Investigating Insurance Coverage After an E-Bike Accident

When Auger Hollingsworth represents someone injured by an e-bike, our first step is to investigate all possible sources of insurance coverage. This is crucial because of the significant gap in mandatory insurance coverage for e-bike riders, which can leave injured parties without the necessary financial support for their injuries.

This gap in the law is a growing concern, as it could lead to individuals being injured without any means of compensation. Anyone injured by an e-bike should contact Auger Hollingsworth immediately. We can help navigate the complex legal landscape, identify potential sources of insurance coverage, and ensure that injured parties receive the compensation they deserve.

In summary, while e-bikes offer many benefits, both riders and those around them should be aware of the legal and insurance complexities involved. If you or someone you know is involved in an e-bike accident, getting the right legal advice is essential. Contact Auger Hollingsworth for a consultation to explore your options and protect your rights. https://ahinjurylaw.com/contact-us/

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