You’ve probably found yourself in traffic and seen a motorcycle skillfully moving between cars in traffic jams. Perhaps you’ve even been the motorcyclist utilizing lane splitting techniques. One thing on everybody’s mind in this scenario is, “What happens if lane splitting results in an accident? Who is at fault? Is that even legal?”
Motorcyclists, law enforcement personnel and traffic safety experts often disagree about the hazards of lane splitting. Many motorcyclists believe that lane splitting can save travel time and ease congestion in bumper-to-bumper traffic. However, several states have outlawed the practice, considering it dangerous for motorcycles and passenger vehicles.
Motorcyclists can be killed or seriously injured in a lane splitting accident because they have little protection from the impact of a crash. In addition, where lane splitting is against the law, the motorcyclist is usually held responsible for the accident.Do You Have a Case?
Let’s dig into what this maneuver is and how it might impact you legally if you should get into an accident.
Lane splitting, which most commonly occurs in traffic jams, is when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes of stopped or slowly moving cars. It is a common source of annoyance to drivers of passenger vehicles as well as a frequent cause of accidents. In addition to motorcycles, the term is used for scooters, mopeds, or any other narrow form of transportation such as bicycles or longboards.
Section 257.660 of the Michigan Vehicle Code prohibits motorcycles from passing between lanes of traffic. The statute also applies to mopeds, electric skateboards, electric personal assistive mobility devices and other low-speed vehicles.
California is currently the only state that specifically allows lane splitting. However, in several other states, the practice is neither permitted nor prohibited.
Therefore, if you are planning a motorcycle trip outside of Michigan, it is a good idea to check the lane splitting laws in the state(s) you will be visiting.
A motorcyclist who is injured in a crash does have the option to bring a lawsuit. However, the chances of success may be affected by the fact that lane splitting is illegal in Michigan. The police officer who responds to the scene of the crash may issue a ticket to the motorcyclist who was lane splitting. And, insurance companies are more likely to attribute fault to the driver (or motorcyclist) who receives a traffic violation. Further, judges and juries tend to look less favorably upon drivers who break the law and put other motorists at risk.
Michigan uses the concept of “modified comparative negligence” for personal injury lawsuits. This means the motorcyclist would have to be less than 50% at fault to recover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
A motorcyclist might prevail if the other driver involved in the accident did something more dangerous and/or illegal than lane splitting. For example, a motorist who changed lanes abruptly without signaling or drifted from one lane into another may also receive a ticket. Furthermore, a driver who was speeding, driving while impaired or using a cell phone behind the wheel could be found responsible for the lane splitting accident.
To help you navigate this process after being involved in a lane splitting accident, it’s important to hire an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer.
Lane filtering is when a motorcyclist moves from lane to lane to pass motor vehicles that have either stopped or are moving slowly. This is different from lane splitting, where the motorcyclist rides down the middle of two lanes of traffic. Lane sharing is when two motorcycles ride abreast in the same lane. Michigan law allows lane sharing as long as no more than two motorcycles are riding next to one another.
Lane splitting is a common cause of accidents for several reasons:
There is your short lesson on lane splitting and how the fault of your motorcycle accident is determined should you find yourself in this situation. If you or someone you loved experiences an injury due to a lane splitting accident, then it’s time to get the Bernstein Biker Advantage®.
As riders ourselves, we understand first-hand the joy and the challenges that bikers experience. And, we take these cases personally because we know how devastating a motorcycle accident can be.
Our entire legal team is well-versed in the complexities of motorcycle accident law. We know what it takes to win your case, and we are ready to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Motorcycle accident law is complicated, but finding the right attorney is simple.Do You Have a Case?
Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, remote no-obligation consultation from the safety of your home.
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