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E-bikes: Court rules on the right of compensation following a crash

E-bikes: Court rules on the right of compensation following a crash
E-bikes: Court rules on the right of compensation following a crash

A cyclist who crashed while riding an e-bike in Belgium years ago has been pushed into the spotlight to determine the right to compensation. Legal experts had to determine whether the cyclist’s family is entitled to automatic compensation for being a “vulnerable road user.”

The man was struck by a car and sustained serious injuries. He died months later. A dispute arose regarding the legal classification of the electric bicycle. Can it be regarded as a vehicle? The court papers confirm that this cyclist’s bike merely provided pedal assistance, including through a ‘boost’ function. 

“The ‘boost’ function could be activated only after the use of muscular power (by pedaling, by walking with the bicycle, or by pushing it). The legal classification of the bicycle in question is crucial in order to determine whether the victim was the driver of a ‘motor vehicle’ or whether he was entitled to automatic compensation as a ‘vulnerable road user’ under Belgian law.”

Court rules

Belgian Court of Cassation decided to refer a question to the Court of Justice of the European Union to rule on the interpretation of the concept.

A ruling was made in favor of the cyclist, finding that “that objective does not require that electric bicycles be covered by the concept of a ‘vehicle,’ within the meaning of the directive.” 

This landmark case impacts many delivery drivers and companies who require compensation from their insurance companies. The court found that an e-bike, which can only accelerate to 20km/h without pedaling, is not capable of causing bodily or material damage to a third party. Therefore, it can’t be classified in the same category as a car, truck, or motorcycle. These type of vehicles can reach a much higher speed within seconds. 

ALSO READ: France bans e-scooters: What does it mean?

The court papers read: “The directive does not indicate whether a ‘vehicle’ must be propelled exclusively by mechanical power two. The directive refers to ‘motor insurance,’ traditionally refers to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of devices. Such as motorcycles, cars, and trucks that are propelled exclusively by means of mechanical power.”

Crash prevalence among e-bikers

Paramedics and emergency workers are warning about the safety of e-bikes. There has been a surge in e-bike sales and the number of injuries. “I honestly believe that we probably are only seeing the tip of the iceberg,” Dr. Marko Bukur, a medical director of trauma at New York’s Bellevue Hospital, told Fortune. According to the publication’s research, 900,00 e-bikes were sold in 2021in the US alone. That’s nearly double the sales compared to 2020.

Last year, Singapore introduced new regulations to combat the number of crashes involving e-bikes. Users have to pass an online theory test before setting a wheel on the road. However, despite efforts to minimize the risks, which include speed limits, the number of accidents is still increasing.

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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