E-bikes are becoming an increasingly popular method of transportation for Ontarians – but what happens if you are injured by a person operating an e-bike? Unlike many types of motor vehicles, e-bike operators are not required to carry insurance, meaning that different considerations apply to victims of these types of accidents.
Below, we will discuss what happens when an individual is hit by an e-bike – and the personal injury claim options available to them.
E-Bikes vs. Bicycles
E-bikes – also referred to as an electric bike or power-assisted bike, is a type of bicycle featuring an electric motor designed to assist the rider while they pedal. In terms of appearance, e-bikes look a lot like traditional bicycles and typically feature handlebars, pedals, wheels, and braking systems.
Under Ontario law, e-bikes fall into the same category as bicycles.
E-Bikes and Personal Injury Claims in Ontario
For the most part, personal injury claims involving e-bikes will be treated similarly to personal injury claims involving traditional bicycles.
Common Causes of E-Bike Accidents
As with bicycles, there are many different circumstances where negligent operation of an e-bike could lead to personal injury.
For example, failing to follow the rules of the road can lead to e-bike accidents (for example, if you fail to yield at a stop sign and strike a pedestrian). Additionally, failing to properly maintain an e-bike can lead to accidents (such as in cases of mechanical or motor failure). To avoid these common causes of e-bike accidents, e-bike operators need to follow the rules of the road, properly maintain their e-bikes, and consider other safety precautions (such as those outlined in our recent blog post).
E-Bike Operators and Negligence
The basis of most accident claims is the legal concept of “negligence”, which means that someone else created a risk of harm that resulted in injury or damage to the victim. To establish a negligence claim in Ontario, the victim must prove that
- the negligent party had a duty of care toward the victim,
- the negligent party breached their duty to the victim,
- the victim suffered damages or loss, and
- those damages or losses were caused by the negligent party’s negligence.
Defences in E-Bike Accident Cases
If you bring an action against an e-bike owner following an accident, keep in mind that they may advance defences against your claim.
For example, contributory negligence is a common legal defense in personal injury claims. In these cases, the defendant will attempt to establish that the victim’s negligence contributed to their loss or damage (in whole or in part). If the defendant is successful, the victim’s damages will be reduced by the extent to which the court finds them contributorily negligent for the accident.
Allegations of contributory negligence are especially common in motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents, as these situations involve two or more independent actors (and, usually, two separate versions of events). For example, if you are a pedestrian who was injured due to an e-bike operator’s negligence, the operator may try to advance contributory negligence claims against you, such as claiming:
- The victim was wearing dark clothing which made them difficult to see when the accident occurred;
- The victim was jaywalking when the accident occurred; or
- The victim was distracted (e.g., paying attention to their phone) while crossing the road when the accident occurred.
E-Bike Personal Injury Claims and Damages
Like many other types of personal injury claims, victims of e-bike accidents can bring a personal injury claim against the negligent party for damages. If the victim can prove their claim, they are entitled to damages for their injuries and losses, which may include compensatory damages (such as medical expenses or loss of income) and non-pecuniary damages (such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment).
Damages and Insurance
Unlike motor vehicles, e-bike riders are not required to carry insurance. Victims of e-bike accidents are, therefore not entitled to statutory accident benefits under Ontario’s Insurance Act, RSO 1990, c. I.8 and its mechanism for providing benefits for medical treatment or income loss replacement.
Nevertheless, personal injury claimants can still bring an action against a negligent e-bike operator – it just means that they will have to sue the operator personally rather than pursue benefits through Ontario’s no-fault system. To that end, it’s critical to enlist the help of a skilled personal injury lawyer for an e-bike accident claim – they will not only be able to help you navigate the complicated personal injury process but determine the best strategic approach to take.
Steps to Take Following an E-Bike Accident
If you are injured by an e-bike, it’s important to take the following steps to help protect your legal rights and obtain the compensation you deserve:
Seek Medical Attention
Your priority following an e-bike accident should be to seek medical attention. Even if you do not have apparent injuries, it’s possible that injuries may emerge in the coming days. Therefore, it’s critical to seek medical attention to ensure that any injuries are diagnosed and treated promptly.
Be sure to exchange details with the e-bike operator following the accident. Unlike a motor vehicle accident, where vehicle owners can be tracked down easily with a license plate search, it can be more difficult to track down cyclists or e-bike operators. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene, including the e-bike and any damage caused.
Report the Accident
In Ontario, you must report any accident involving property damage or personal injury to the police – and e-bike accidents are no different. Call 9-1-1 or visit your nearest police station to report the accident and provide any information you have on hand. The police will then create a report documenting the e-bike accident, which not only ensures the police can investigate if appropriate but also provides a useful record if you require evidence later for a personal injury claim.
Consult a Lawyer
If you are injured or sustain any other losses in an e-bike accident, you should consult a skilled personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and options and can help you obtain compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and other damages. Your lawyer can also communicate with insurance companies and other parties on your behalf, reducing your stress and ensuring that you are treated fairly throughout the process.
Skilled Personal Injury Lawyers Serving Eastern Ontario and North Bay
At Tierney Stauffer LLP, our trusted personal injury lawyers have the knowledge to handle a variety of personal injury claims, regardless of how the accident happened. Non-traditional accidents, including e-bike accidents, can involve unique legal issues that require the attention of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Our team has the skills and resources required to tackle these complicated issues, allowing you to focus on your recovery. Call us at 1-888-799-8057 or reach out to us online to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.