Studies show, the sales of eBikes grew by 240% between 2019 and 2021 and that by 2023, around 300 million eBikes will be in use around the world. However, as eBike popularity continues to grow, both in Florida and nationwide, so will the likelihood of accidents involving eBikes. As experienced Pensacola personal injury attorneys who have helped many pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers who have been injured in an accident, our clients want to know what laws in Florida govern eBikes? What protections do eBike riders have? And who might be responsible for injuries caused in an eBike accident?
Laws Governing eBikes
In 2020, the Florida Legislature passed House Bill 971 to define an eBike as a “bicycle or tricycle equipped with fully operable pedals, a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, and an electric motor of less than 750 watts” and divided them into three classifications:
- Class 1 assists only when the rider is pedaling and only up to 20 mph;
- Class 2 can propel without pedaling but only up to 20 mph; and
- Class 3 is pedal assist up to 28 mph.
Under the new law, eBikes are afforded all the rights, privileges, and duties of a bicycle (or the operator of a bicycle) and can be operated anywhere a bicycle can be operated, including bike lanes, streets, sidewalks, and other multi-use paths. Drivers of motor vehicles are required to give at least 3 feet when passing a rider on an eBike and eBike riders are included as ‘vulnerable road users' in crashes involving death or personal injury.
Who Might Be Responsible for Your Injuries In an eBike Accident
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance
eBikes do not have to be registered with the state, and riders do not need to take out auto insurance or be licensed with the state in any way to operate an eBike. However, eBike riders are still eligible for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance benefits if they own a car, or live with a relative who does, and they are injured in an eBike crash with a car or other motor vehicle. With some exceptions and variations, PIP covers 80% of your medical bills up to $10,000 as long as the injured rider seeks treatment within 14 days of the crash.
Bodily Injury (BI) Insurance
Bodily Injury (BI) insurance is optional in Florida, but it provides insurance coverage for injuries drivers may cause to others in an accident. Meaning, if an eBike rider is struck by a motor vehicle driver who carries BI insurance, that insurance may provide coverage for the injuries if they were caused by the motor vehicle driver. Unfortunately, many drivers in Florida do not carry BI coverage because it is not required under Florida law. This is why it is important for bicyclists and eBike riders to carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) protection as part of their own auto insurance policy.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) Coverage
There is a reason we always tell clients and Florida drivers to purchase Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM)coverage, as much as you can afford, because it protects you if you are struck by a driver who is uninsured (meaning, she has no insurance to cover your damages) or underinsured (meaning, she does not have enough insurance to cover your damages). If this occurs—i.e. you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist and you are injured—your own UM coverage will kick in to help cover your medical bills and other damages. We recommend this coverage because it is a small cost for important protection and many drivers in Florida are uninsured or underinsured.
The Other Driver/Rider
If the other person involved in the accident (be it a driver of a motor vehicle or another eBike rider or bicyclist) caused the accident—meaning, their negligent conduct was the proximate cause of the accident—they may be liable to you for the injuries they caused in the accident. Pursuing liability in this manner generally requires you file a personal injury lawsuit against the other party for negligence seeking the medical bills, lost past and future wages, pain and suffering, etc. that you incurred as a result of the accident. You will need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you pursue the other driver/operator.
The eBike Manufacturer: Product Liability
In order to win a product liability claim, you need to prove:
- You were injured or suffered losses
- The product is defective
- The defect caused your injury
- You were using the product as it was intended
A large portion of defective product claim will hinge on whether the consumer was using the product correctly and as intended by the manufacturer. In an eBike case, the facts may show that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn end users of the dangers associated with operating an eBike or the proper protective gear needed to safely operate an eBike, making the product essentially defective. The evidence may also show the manufacturer did not undertake adequate steps in designing the eBike to ensure it could not be dangerously modified or operated. Extensive investigation and discovery of facts surrounding the design and marketing of the eBike and the accident will have to be undertaken by an experienced personal injury/products liability attorney to determine whether the eBike manufacturer might be liable for injuries sustained in an accident involving an eBike.
How to Improve Your Chance for Recovery in an eBike Accident Claim or Lawsuit
Personal injury matters are complicated, with numerous parties involved, including insurance, and multiple factors that can contribute to liability. If you have been involved in an accident involving an eBike and you sustained injuries, the best way to ensure you recover as much as possible for your injuries, from as many sources as possible, is to bring an experienced personal injury attorney, like our attorneys at Taylor, Warren, Weidner & Hancock, onboard early on to investigate the accident and the involved parties and advise you of your rights. We never charge any fee, cost, or obligation to discuss your eBike accident/claim with you and advise you of your rights. Contact us if you have questions about an eBike accident.