The Joys and Perils Of E-Bikes

With electric bike (“E-Bike”) sales having boomed since the pandemic, people are heading out in droves to enjoy the benefits that come with these cost-effective alternatives to crowed public transit options.

Despite the health and environmental benefits of riding e-bikes, there are some legal risks that come with these e-bikes both for e-bike riders themselves and other users of the road who are injured by e-bikes.

No Insurance Required:

E-bikes are not considered motor vehicles under the Highway Traffic Act, which means that motor vehicle insurance is not required. Because motor vehicle insurance is not required for e-bikes, those injured by e-bikes may be without recourse to insurance funded treatment. For example, a pedestrian struck by an e-bike may not be able to access insurance coverage for treatment they may require or for the income replacement they may require. Had the incident involved a vehicle for which insurance was mandated (i.e. a motorcycle or car), the injured pedestrian (or e-bike rider) would be able to claim accident benefits (no-fault insurance) through the appropriate insurer.

Similarly, should an injured pedestrian need to sue the e-bike operator for negligence as a result of damages suffered, the e-bike operator would not likely have automobile insurance coverage behind them to access for the purposes of the lawsuit. It could mean the injured party would be dealing with an impecunious party. 

However, assuming the e-bike operator possesses home or tenant insurance, the e-bike operator may be able to rely on that coverage to pay out injuries to the injured party. While useful to have, not all e-bike riders may possess this coverage which can leave injured parties without recourse when pursuing claims against impecunious defendants. 

On the contrary, had the incident involved a vehicle for which insurance was mandated, insurance would be available to respond to the lawsuit. This would ensure that the injured claimant have a “pocket of money to access” without concerns about the defending party being impecunious.

E-Bikes Can Be Hazardous and Legally Complicated:

Although not considered a “motor vehicle”, make no mistake that e-bikes can cause serious injury to unsuspecting pedestrians, cyclists or other users of the road—even to riders of the e-bikes themselves. They tend to be quiet and harder to hear coming. Yet, they can travel up to 32 km/h and with a typical e-bike weighing at well over 200 pounds, this can be a recipe for disaster.

E-Bike riders themselves who lose control or other users of the road can become seriously injured in e-bike accidents. Unfortunately, injuries caused through the use of e-bikes pose legal challenges both for those injured by e-bikes and those on e-bikes who cause injury to others.

For Those Injured Through Use of an E-Bike:

Where the accident only involves an e-bike (without involvement of another car, truck or motorcycle), injured parties may have limited recourse through insurance.

The involvement of another motor vehicle in the same accident (that requires mandatory insurance to be in place) may simplify the legal complexities in accessing insurance coverage for your injuries/losses. This would extend to accident benefits coverage (to obtain no-fault benefits) and to third party coverage (to claim against the at fault party).

Some e-bikes may have optional insurance coverage in place which can be accessed. This means that if you were to be injured by an e-bike, the operator of the e-bike in some situations may have an insurance policy (although optional) that can provide some coverage in the event you were to claim against them.

Injured parties may also be able to obtain compensation against the e-bike operator through the operator’s home or tenant insurance liability policies which may provide for coverage in these instances.

If you are seriously injured through the use of an e-bike, it is important that you speak with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.

For E-Bike Riders Who Cause Harm To Others:

As an e-bike rider who has caused injury to another user of the road (i.e. pedestrian, cyclist or another driver), beware of personal liability exposure that you may face!

This is not something that owners and operators of insured vehicles need to worry about because they have insurance that would respond to any such claim.

The prudent thing to do would be to obtain insurance to cover yourself in the event of such a lawsuit either through home, tenant or specific optional e-bike policies, which may be available.


The cost savings of an e-bike and convenience of them must be weighed against the risks of being injured through their use.

The risks associated with negligence operation of an e-bike causing harm or damage to others must also be taken into account, especially where no optional, home or tenant insurance is taken out.

Written by

Lawson is the founding lawyer of Hennick Law.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from York University, and then attended University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law graduating with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 2009 before being called to the Ontario Bar in 2010.

Lawson articled with a boutique litigation firm where he gained experience in a variety of practice areas including representing Indian Residential School survivors to obtain compensation through the Independent Assessment Process for sexual and physical harms suffered.

Since his call to the bar, Lawson has devoted his legal practice exclusively to the area of personal injury and employment law. He started his firm in 2019 and regularly acts for clients on injury claims including motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, product liability, dog bite cases and employment law disputes. He regularly appears before the Superior Court of Justice and has also appeared before the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) and License Appeal Tribunal.