E-Bike, E-Scooter, and Moped accidents in New York City

E-bike and moped accidents have been on the rise over the last few years in New York City. Owning and operating other types of vehicles within the five boroughs – or any large, congested urban area — can be costly and challenging, so it’s not surprising that this alternate mode of transportation is attractive to city dwellers. The popularity and use of e-bikes and mopeds means more of them are on the streets, with new and existing companies expanding their services into most big cities across the U.S.

The main draw of e-bikes and mopeds is that they offer a nice alternative to bicycles and cars. They are environmentally friendly, take up very little space in an apartment or on the street, and provide a financially friendly way for people to get from one part of a city to another, which is a boon to lower-income residents especially. Their appeal may also lie in the fact that e-bikes and mopeds give users more independence and freedom to come and go as they wish, rather than rely on the schedules of public transportation.

Unfortunately, with this growing popularity and use, the inevitable has happened. There has been a steep rise in accidents and injuries related to e-bikes and mopeds. In this article, we will discuss the development and expansion of this mode of transportation, and what it means to New York City residents who are hurt by their drivers.

How Do E-Bikes, E-Scooters, and Mopeds Differ?

Each of these have very different and some similar features. Let’s look at some of the key features and differences of each of these transportation devices:

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As seen in this simplified chart of key features, operators are not very protected from obstacles and larger vehicles. On the flip side, e-bikes and mopeds are capable of traveling fast enough to cause injury to pedestrians and bicyclists.

Overview of E-bike, E-Scooter, and Moped Accidents

Despite the many benefits of e-bikes and mopeds, they present issues. The boroughs of New York City are congested. Driving anything or walking anywhere can pose a hazard. It’s important to note that people who ride these e-bikes and e-scooters are not required to have a motorcycle license, just a regular driver’s license. That’s unfortunate because driving a car is not the same as driving a two-wheeled vehicle. New York’s motorcycle license requirement, which includes passing a road test, was skirted because the law applies to vehicles that exceed 30 mph. These e-bikes and e-scooters top out at that speed.

We’ve all seen the recent headlines. It isn’t just the operators who get injured in these accidents. Crashes involving e-bikes, e-scooters, and mopeds have hurt pedestrians, bicyclists, and people driving larger vehicles. As with any other accident, contacting an expert attorney in New York, preferably one who has extensive experience dealing with such cases, should be a priority. This can help give those injured the best opportunity at justice.

New York City E-bike, E-Scooter, and Moped Laws

The New York City Council decided to legalize these kinds of transportation devices in June of 2020, right after the beginning of the pandemic. But there are limitations. E-bikes speeds must top out at 25mph and electric scooters should travel at a speed no higher than 20mph. Although those are the maximum speeds on streets, the speed limit for e-bikes and e-scooters on the sidewalk is 15 mph. One does not need a driver’s license or registration with New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles to operate e-bikes of any class in New York City. Mopeds are split into three classes, with speeds ranging from 20-30 mph depending on the classification of the moped. All 3 categories of mopeds require a driver’s license and registration with New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Those who ride e-bikes or e-scooters must stay off of sidewalks, but they are allowed to use bike lanes in the street as long as they follow the flow of traffic. Naturally, they also must obey street traffic signals just like other motor vehicles, and that includes yielding to pedestrians.

Involved in an E-Bike or E-Scooter Accident?

Immediately after an accident of any kind, we recommend people do the following:

  1. Seek medical assistance and contact police
  2. Take note of as many details as possible in the accident
  3. Obtain names and contact information of witnesses and involved parties
  4. Don’t over-disclose information to officers or medical staff
  5. Contact an expert attorney with experience in traffic accidents and personal injury

The first thing one should always focus on is being thoroughly evaluated for medical issues. An injury due to an accident can cause health concerns that may not always be visually noticeable, such as internal bleeding and minor fractures in bones. In addition to the health concerns, the medical staff will have physical records of any injuries suffered due to the accident, which will be crucial in a later potential case. The next step is to make sure that as many details as possible are recorded so that an attorney has the facts needed to evaluate the incident. This can be done by recording videos or pictures on a cell phone and/or writing notes. Next, obtain the names and contact information of the involved parties, as well as any witnesses who may be needed to testify in court. We recommend not making statements such as “I wasn’t paying attention.” Even a hint of admitting fault can later hurt one’s chances of recovering compensation. Once these steps have been addressed, it’s best to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Proving Liability, Fault, and Damages

A person involved in an e-bike, e-scooter, or moped accident may be wondering, “Who is going to pay for my medical bills and property damage?” The answer to this question will depend on the circumstances of the incident and the details of what happened from start to finish. Let’s look at some possible liable parties:

  • An e-bike, e-scooter, or moped operator
  • The driver of a full-size vehicle
  • The city where the incident occurred
  • A business
  • The manufacturer of the e-bike, e-scooter, or moped

At Rosenblum Law, we analyze all aspects of an accident – often with the assistance of accident reconstruction experts – to determine who is at fault. On some occasions more than one party is to blame. For example, if an e-bike collides with a pedestrian but the city was negligent in posting the correct signage or keeping sidewalks safe, it may be held partially or fully liable for resulting injuries and damages. The same may hold true if surfaces are riddled with debris or potholes.

The Role of Insurance Companies

Most cases we handle usually end in a settlement because it is the most efficient way to address them; it leaves both parties satisfied or at the very least, content with the resolution. A settlement is when both parties sit down and agree on who is liable, how much liability is assigned to each party, and a final compensation amount. A settlement may take place between two parties directly, with their attorneys, or one party and their attorney with the opposing party’s insurance.

Most of the time settlements are paid by the liable party’s insurance. That’s because typically what comes before the settlement is an insurance claim and/or a lawsuit filed by the injured person’s attorney. However, a settlement can also happen completely on its own if the parties decide to resolve the issue directly through a settlement.

An insurance company’s goal in these settlements is to end up paying an insurance policy holder the least possible amount and prevent them from seeking action through the courts, which could lead them to pay far more than what a settlement could result in. The insurance adjusters and agents involved in this process are expert negotiators and one should not try to go through this process on their own. An attorney will have great knowledge and experience not only with the law, but also in dealing with insurance companies and their negotiation tactics.

How an Attorney Can Help

Navigating the legal world of recovering compensation for an injury, time away from work, and other possible compensation from a responsible party or their insurance company is challenging and time-consuming. Insurance companies look to settle for the absolute lowest amount possible.

Apart from the difficulties of negotiating with insurance companies, if a settlement isn’t reached, a lawsuit will need to be filed. In order to prepare all of the proper paperwork, evidence, legal arguments, and potential witnesses and experts, it’s best to involve an attorney as soon as possible after an accident. They will also have the legal education and experience necessary to persuade a jury and adhere to court procedures.

Lawyers go to school for several years solely for the study of law. Furthermore, a personal injury attorney who has practiced for many years will have successfully argued similar cases, both in and out of the courtroom. They will be able to either get a fair settlement from the insurance company through negotiation, or take the case to court and get the justice deserved.

Related Facts and Statistics

The following are some facts and statistics regarding e-bikes, e-scooters, and moped accidents:

  • There were 190,000 emergency room visits due to e-mobility devices in the United States from 2017 to 2020.
    • This represents a 70% increase from previous years previous.
    • Much of this increase is attributed to e-scooters.
  • Physical injuries due to e-mobility devices usually happen in the limbs, head, and neck.
  • In 2020, there were 25,400 attributable emergency room visits related to e-scooter use alone.
  • There were 71 confirmed fatalities associated with micro-mobility products from 2017 to 2020.
  • According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, electric scooter share programs have spread to over 100 cities since 2017.
  • In New York City, anyone above the age of 16 is allowed to ride an e-bike or e-scooter.
  • Only e-bikes and e-scooters are permitted in bike lanes in New York City, not mopeds.
  • If you are age 16 or 17 and your bike can go more than 20mph, a helmet is required by law.
  • Electric scooter share programs saw a total ride surge of 130% to 88.5 million in 2019 from the previous year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Could the companies who own the shared transportation devices be held liable for my injury?

It depends. If the accident was caused by the user, then the company may not be held liable. If the accident was at least in part caused by a manufacturer defect in the transportation device, then they may be held liable.

Can’t I just contact the responsible party’s insurance on my own and try to negotiate a settlement before I contact an attorney?

You should never try to engage in negotiations or communication about your own case with the responsible party’s insurance company. We advise against it because most people do not have the legal and negotiation experience to get the settlement they deserve. Insurance companies will try their best to give you the least amount of money they possibly can, and they do this through negotiation experts that may have decades of experience in doing so. Having an expert attorney on your side, with your best interest in mind, will give you the absolute best chance at getting the compensation you deserve.

How do I know the regulations of my specific type of e-bike and/or moped, and what laws and regulations I should be aware of?

We have laid out some of the specifications and laws regarding these transportation devices in this article, but for more information on this, click here for the New York City Department of Transportation’s specifications on e-bike and moped classifications and the rules governing them.

Where can I learn about safety and operation of some of these modes of transportation?

The New York City Department of Transportation has biker safety information, helmet fittings and giveaways, and information about e-bikes & more. This information and many of New York City’s resources therein is open to the public.

Who Should You Contact?

No one expects to be involved in an accident in their day-to-day lives. Normally, we walk out of our doors expecting our normal daily routines to unfold. Unfortunately, we know that unforeseen events can occur and cause you or a loved one injuries. Rest assured, if you or a loved one are the victim of an e-bike, e-scooter, and/or moped accident, we are here to help you get the compensation you deserve. If you are someone who likes to be in the loop about your legal casework, treated like family, and be represented by the best of the best, reach out to us at Rosenblum Law. For decades, we have successfully represented clients in a wide variety of legal areas. Call us today at 888-815-3649 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Other Resources

New York City Department of Transportation On E-Bikes and Mopeds

New York Times: As E-Scooters and E-Bikes Proliferate, Safety Challenges Grow

United States Consumer Product Safety Commission

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