In the Bay Area, e-bikes are an essential commuter tool. While riders with great stamina might exclusively ride traditional bikes, the e-bike is an accessible mode of transport who want the bike experience, but without as much work when they need to take a break.
Unfortunately, there’s always a downside. With GoBikes and other bikeshare programs, there is the risk of injury. The Ford GoBike can get up to 18 mph with pedal-assist, and if the rider wants to go faster, then he or she can just pedal faster. That may not seem fast, but without the protection that a car offers, a crash at 18 mph can cause serious injury.
There are other ways that e-bike users are at risk of injury from GoBikes and other bikeshare bicycles:
- In-traffic riding: The Bay Area is known for some great bike lanes, but not everywhere has them readily available. When e-bikers have to share the roads with dostracted motorists, accidents are bound to happen.
- Dooring: This occurs when the ebiker is riding in a bike lane that runs between the right lane and the line of parked cars and a motorist opens their door to get out.
- Potholes: A single pothole or a crack in the pavement can send an ebiker onto the pavement. One of the biggest pothole injury suits settled for 3.25 million for severely injured cyclist.
- Pedestrians: When not riding, the ebiker is a pedestrian and is then at risk for ebikers hitting them or leaving their bike in front of a doorway or walkway.
Who Pays for GoBike Injuries
Bay Area e-bikers are at risk for a serious injury that can turn the life of the rider upside down. So who is going to pay for the medical bills, trips to the docs, rehabilitation and all the time missed from work?
The answer is in part dictated by how the injury occurred. If hit by a car, for example, the at-fault motorist’s insurance “should” cover the losses (though they often try to avoid paying). But what if it’s a pothole or maybe the battery explodes or you trip over an ebike that didn’t make it back to the dock?
Any of these could legally bring liability to either the bikeshare company or the city, or both.
Ford GoBike Liability
When a commuter rides a Ford GoBike, they need to download an app, and set up an account with GoBike, and accept the user agreement which attempts to absolve GoBike of responsibility for injuries sustained by using a GoBike.
However, under California laws, this sort of waiver is limited and doesn’t always absolve the company from a personal injury. For example, if the battery catches fire, the ebiker can sue the bikeshare company and possibly whoever made the battery or the bike itself.
Anyone that gets injured by an ebike or when using an ebike, should see an attorney who can tell them their full rights under the law.
Common Ebike Injuries
When a rider hops on an ebike and pedals or rides to work or anywhere in the city, he or she is at risk of serious injury and even death. This isn’t just with ebikes, but anytime someone is out in the city, there are dangers from other ebikers and cyclists, cars, pickups, busses commercial trucks and many other types of vehicles. There are some common injuries that ebikers and cyclists share when injured:
Head Injuries: Wearing a helmet can reduce some injuries, but not all, and every bike accident usually ends with the cyclist hitting the pavement, and sometimes with their head.
Concussion/Traumatic Brain Injury: A blow to the head can cause a mild or severe concussion which can result in a TBI.
Facial Injury: This happens often when wearing a helmet without a screen or any protection on the face leaving it vulnerable to injury.
Broken Wrists: Many cyclists will hold tightly on the handle grips when they anticipate a crash, and this can cause broken wrists.
Broken Legs: Many times, the cyclist is thrown off the front of the bike and their legs can hit the bike or the vehicle.
Chest Injury: Sometimes a rider will be sent violently forward and hit their upper torso on the handle bars.
Road Rash: Sliding on the pavement, especially any area uncovered, will result in moderate to severe injury to the skin.
What to do if Injured
Bay Area residents who are injured while riding an ebike have a wonderful resource at their disposal. Bay Area Bicycle Law is a firm that deals exclusively with those injured in a cycling or ebike injury. We offer a free consultation where you can ask questions and have your specific case evaluated.
This can make the difference between getting a small settlement or getting the full compensation allowed by the law. The attorneys at Bay Area Bicycle Law have years of experience representing clients in all sorts of bicycle-related injuries including ebike cases. Start putting someone on your side, call us at (415) 466 8717 or click here to contact us online. If you still wonder if we’re the right firm for you or even if you need an attorney, read this this for help answering these questions.