Bicycle or electric bicycle accidents – when are you entitled to compensation? (legal information)
How do you file a claim for damage caused in an electric bicycle accident? After a precedent ruling that stated that electric bicycles are not a motor vehicle, cyclists are considered pedestrians and can claim compensation as such from the driver of the vehicle that hit them, or from the state.
Unfortunately, bicycle accidents, and especially electric bicycle accidents, have become very common in Israel. The number of cyclists is increasing, but the infrastructure has not been fully adapted to cycling. This poor state of affairs leads to thousands of bicycle accidents every year, many of which have a tragic ending, involving serious injury and sometimes even death. It is important to be aware not only of the dangers faced by cyclists, but also of the rights of bicycle accident victims in cases where, God forbid, an actual accident occurred. An expert on tort law and compensation for car accident victims from our firm will explain this below.
The lawyers from our firm, with offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specialize in tort law and insurance law. The lawyers from our office have extensive experience in providing consulting services and legal representation in a variety of issues, including compensation for victims of road accidents, physical injuries, mental injuries, and more. Our firm accompanies its clients and provides them with a comprehensive and optimal response throughout all stages of the tort procedure, in a manner adapted to their needs and the requirements of each procedure individually.
Why does the number of bicycle accidents in Israel increase every year?
There are many cyclists in Israel. The choice of bicycles is only natural, in light of the favorable weather conditions most of the year and the roads comfortable for cycling (especially in the Gush Dan area and the center of the country), and the high car and fuel prices. However, despite the great demand and the efforts made in recent years to make the roads in Israel more accessible to cyclists, the infrastructure in many places in the country is still not optimal for cycling. This leads to many accidents involving cyclists. Unfortunately, data shows that the number of fatal accidents continues to rise over the years, as a direct result of the above. The number of accidents illustrates how important it is to know the legal situation concerning cycling, especially electric bicycles, in view of their increasing popularity in the last decade.
The legal problem of bicycle accident claims and their solutions
For many years, Israeli law did not provide a clear answer to the question of whether bicycles or electric bicycles constitute a vehicle as defined in the law on compensation for victims of road accidents. In a precedential ruling of the Supreme Court from 2020, the court ruled on this important question and explicitly stated that an electric bicycle is not considered a motor vehicle. Notwithstanding the above, this does not mean that damages cannot be claimed for bicycle accidents. When a vehicle (car or motorcycle) hits a bicycle, the cyclist will be considered a pedestrian and will be able to claim compensation from the offending driver’s insurance company, or from the state (if the driver is uninsured or in case of a hit-and-run accident).
Below are examples of a number of recent rulings on the subject: In a ruling by the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court (case no. 33225-04-19) damages were awarded in the amount of 145 thousand ILS to an electric bicycle rider who was injured in an accident with a car, and as a result of the accident suffered orthopedic damage and disability rates. In another judgment given in the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court in 2019, damages totaling 280,000 ILS were awarded to a cyclist due to severe physical injury he suffered when his bicycle ran into a taxi, when the taxi door was opened. The court recognized the incident as a car accident. Another ruling from the Kfar Saba Magistrate Court dealt with the unfortunate case of a boy who died in a car accident while he was riding an electric bicycle. Damages of approximately 909,000 ILS were awarded to his legal heirs from the insurance company of the offending vehicle driver.
Private bicycle accidents – when and how can damages be claimed?
There may be other grounds for a claim concerning an accident that was not caused by a vehicle, against different parties. This depends, to a large extent, on the circumstances of the case. In many cases the courts are willing to award high compensation awards to bicycle accident victims. For example, in a judgment held in 2021, the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court awarded damages in the amount of 600,000 ILS to a plaintiff who rode a bicycle he rented from the bicycle rental service of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality (“Tel Ofan”). The claimant was injured due to damage to the bicycle that led to the locking of the front wheel. This case illustrates that it is possible to claim compensation from rental companies, and this is also true when it comes to renting electric bicycles.
Similarly, it is sometimes possible to sue the municipality for falling with the bicycle on the street if the accident was caused by a safety hazard in a public area within the municipality’s domain. Moreover, an accident that occurred during a routine bicycle ride on the way to or from work may be considered a work accident. When it comes to teenagers who were injured while cycling, they may be entitled to damages under their personal accident insurance. There may be other circumstances that involve other ways of claiming damages. It is important to examine the issue in depth, and it is highly recommended to consult a lawyer who specializes in tort law soon after the accident.
What about a pedestrian run over by an electric bicycle?
Although electric bicycles may weigh much more than normal bicycles, and even normal bicycles can cause injuries, fractures, and even death in certain circumstances, as stated above, bicycles are not defined as vehicles. Therefore, the victim of a collision with a bicycle cannot receive compensation according to the Road Accident Victims Compensation Law. On the other hand, you can file a personal claim with the National Insurance or find other parties to sue according to the circumstances (the municipality, rental company, work accident, personal accident insurance in case of a minor, and more).
Contact a lawyer who specializes in tort and traffic accidents
If you have specific questions about insurance, our law firm, who specializes in tort and insurance law, is available for you. The lawyers from our office have a lot of experience in providing comprehensive legal support to victims of car accidents and other accidents as part of their claim for compensation and the rights they are entitled to. Please contact us using the phone numbers or e-mail address listed below, in order to schedule a consultation with a lawyer in our office in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.