What differentiates e-bikes from their bicycle counterparts is that they pair a fully operable pedal system with an electric motor that can propel the bike in some shape or fashion. Normally, this entails a structure powered by a lithium-ion battery that is limited to 750 watts of maximum power

The Common E-Bike Classification System 

In the majority of the 44 US states that have some form of e-bike specific legislation in place, there is a similar three-class electric bike classification system in place. Within the three separate tiers, multiple types of electric bikes are categorized based on the functionality of their electric motor.

Class 1 E-Bikes

  • Operated using pedal assisted technology
  • Motor cannot provide assistance or boost independent from a rider’s use of the pedals
  • Top speed of motorized boost doesn’t exceed 20mph

Class 2 E-Bikes

  • Have pedal assisted technology
  • Motor can provide assistance without a rider’s use of the pedals
  • Top speed of motorized boost doesn’t exceed 20mph

Class 3 E-Bikes

  • Operated using same pedal assisted as Class 1 e-bikes
  • No motorized boost or assistance independent from a rider’s pedal use
  • Top speed of motorized boost doesn’t exceed 28mph
  • Bicycle must be equipped with a speedometer 

E-Bike Accident Compensation

Because of the ambiguity of electric bike legislation from state-to-state, it can be confusing to navigate an e-bike related accident. Much like any other vehicle or bicycle accident, your ability to pursue a form of financial compensation largely depends on who the at fault party is determined to be. Here’s an example of some of the compensation available to electric bicycle accident victims:

  • Coverage of medical bills related to the accident
  • Past and future wage loss when unable to work due to an accident
  • Coverage of physical therapy or recovery treatment needed 
  • Pain and suffering damages or expenses
  • Gross negligence or intentional act resulting in punitive damage compensation 

In states that don’t define e-bikes with their own unique legislation, e-bikes may require the same registration and insurance requirements of other motorized vehicles. Regardless, it’s important to research and understand your state’s e-bike laws in order to ensure your compliance in the event of an accident. 

In states like California, the driver proved to be negligent assumes responsibility for any and all of the compensation related to the accident they caused. This is due to California’s pure comparative negligence law. When navigating an e-bike related insurance claim or lawsuit, consulting with a qualified attorney can help determine the full extent of your accident’s context and right to compensation.