When motorcycles are lane splitting and an accident occurs, who should be held responsible?
Lane splitting is when a motorcycle drives between two lanes of slowly moving cars especially in traffic jams. If an accident occurs during lane splitting, whether the car or the motorcycle should be held responsible depends on the views of the police and the judge regarding lane splitting, if lane splitting is legal and the actions of the rider and the driver before the accident happened.
Many states frown on motorcycles splitting lanes but they also don’t prohibit it. The police and courts however view lane splitting as an unlawful act.
When Motorcycles Are Lane Splitting And An Accident Occurs, Who Should Be Held Liable?
Lane splitting causes many accidents probably due to the fact that motorcycles and cars are usually at close proximity. It also contributes to accidents because drivers don’t expect other cars to pass them in slowed traffic and the fact that the space to maneuver is reduced.
If an accident does occur when a motorcycle rider is lane splitting, then chances are very high that the rider will be blamed for the accident. If you do file for damages, you may not be able to recover anything if the insurance company and the court find that the accident was as a result of your carelessness.
However, if you can show that the accident was as a result of the car driver’s negligence, then you may be fully or partially compensated for property damage and injuries. If the driver was changing lanes and hit you or they were on the phone while they were driving, then you are entitled to compensation. These factors can help you prove your claim:
- The driver did something that was even more dangerous than splitting lanes such as switching lanes abruptly or drifting from lane to lane.
- You are an experienced rider and you finished a course on motorcycle riding
- You were riding carefully without weaving in and out of lanes or over speeding.
If at all it is possible, support your side of the story with witness statements and police reports.
How To Split Lanes Safely
If you are going to split lanes, make sure it is legal and you do it in a safe manner. Evidence of your safe riding behavior is what will ensure that you get compensated in the event that you get into an accident. If you want to increase your safety when splitting lanes, do the following:
- Get back into the lane when traffic speeds up to 30mph
- If cars get too close to you, honk. Only pass through cars when the distance between them is safe.
- Look for signs that a car may want to change lanes. For example, a driver looking into the side or rear view mirror is a good indicator that they may want to change lanes.
- If you are in a car’s blind spot, you should be extra careful
- If you want to split lanes, make sure that both lanes of cars are moving at the same speed. If one lane is moving faster than the other, cars are more likely to abruptly switch lanes and they may hit you in the process.
- Wear reflective clothing and ride with your headlights on
- Always be aware and alert of the cars around you in traffic.
Prejudice Against Motorcyclists
Due to the driving conduct of many motorcyclists such as racing a Harley Davidson, many people generally have a negative attitude towards them. Prejudice against motorcyclists emerges partly from TV, fiction, stereotypes from movies and misperception. This normally leads people to assume that it’s a motorcyclist’s fault when an accident occurs even if the driver’s negligence largely contributed to the accident.
It is very common for drivers to say that they didn’t see the motorcyclist before the collision. Motorcyclists are likely to suffer very serious injuries when they are involved in a crash. This can be attributed to the fact that they are largely unprotected. Even the best boots, leathers and helmet can only provide so much protection.
Get Legal Help
Due to the public perceptions of motorcyclists and increased risk of serious injury, if you are injured in an accident between your motorcycle and a car, you will generally benefit from hiring an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer.
Call our Cape Cod, Massachusetts or Rhode Island Lawyer today at (800)200-7752 or fill out our contact form.