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Who Is At Fault In A Lane Splitting Accident?

There are over 8 million registered private, public, and commercial motorcycles in the U.S. Many people enjoy the freedom and flexibility that bikes provide, and they are usually more economical than cars.

Almost 90,000 motorcycle accidents happen in the U.S. every year, and many of them are due to negligence. These collisions are often traumatic and extremely harmful to bikers. Motorcycles are much smaller than most other vehicles on the roads, making them more difficult to see. At times, biker behaviors cause crashes.

Lane splitting is a somewhat controversial subject, and many people wonder who is at fault in lane splitting accidents. The personal injury attorneys at Fielding Law explain this subject and can help you if you sustained injuries in an accident.

What Is Lane Splitting?

Motorcycles are narrow and can fit between cars traveling in adjacent lanes. Lane splitting refers to motorcyclists maneuvering between two rows of vehicles headed in the same direction, either moving or stopped. Motorcycles basically use the dotted line between lanes as their own express lane.

Is Lane Splitting Legal?

In the U.S., lane splitting is illegal in most states. However, some groups, including the American Motorcyclist Association, want lawmakers to make it legal. Proponents state that congested stop-and-go traffic and the frustrated, distracted drivers who go with it pose a dangerous threat to motorcyclists.

Many drivers disapprove of lane splitting and perceive it as bikers being reckless. A bike suddenly appearing right beside you while you’re driving on the interstate is startling and can make you swerve into other traffic to avoid it.

Are Motorcycle Accident Injuries Severe?

Riders wear helmets and other protective gear, but when it comes down to it, motorcycle accidents typically produce severe or life-threatening injuries. Common injuries caused by motorcycle accidents include:

Bikers often face extended medical treatments and time lost from work, especially for those traveling at higher speeds.

Why Is Lane Splitting Dangerous?

Standard lanes on U.S. Interstates are 12 feet wide, and other kinds of roads can have narrower lanes. Passenger and commercial vehicles have varying average widths:

If two semis are traveling beside each other in the center of their lanes, there are 7 feet between them. The average standard motorcycle width is 2.6 feet wide. A biker has only 2.2 feet on each side to pass between the two trucks, which isn’t much room.

Many things can cause vehicles to change their trajectory slightly, decreasing the amount of space between them. Drivers might steer to avoid obstacles, and wind can shift high-profile vehicles. Motorcycles are vulnerable to hazardous road and weather conditions, such as potholes, debris, wind, rain, and slick spots.

You can’t depend on a motorcycle and two vehicles maintaining a straight course. If a semi-truck shifts towards the dotted line, the bike will shift away from it. That can cause the motorcycle to collide with the other vehicle, or that vehicle might swerve to avoid crashing into the bike but hit someone else.

Are There Different Kinds of Lane Splitting Accidents?

There are a few common types of accidents caused by lane splitting:

  • The motorcycle hits a vehicle.
  • A vehicle hits a motorcycle.
  • The lane-splitting motorcyclist isn’t hit but causes other vehicles to collide.

Especially in congested traffic, a lane-splitting motorcycle can cause many kinds of wrecks, including multiple vehicle crashes.

Who Is At Fault In Lane Splitting Accidents?

You might think that the biker is always responsible for crashes caused by lane splitting, but other drivers are sometimes partially to blame as well. Driver negligence determines fault, and a single accident can have many negligent participants.

To prove negligence, you need to show that the following elements are true:

  • Duty — someone owed you a duty of care. All drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles safely to minimize the risks of causing accidents.
  • Breach — that person breached the duty of care. Examples of this related to driving include speeding, distracted or fatigued driving, and failing to follow traffic laws.
  • Causation — the breach directly caused your accident.
  • Damages — the injuries you sustained in the accident produced economic and non-economic damages.

In cases where more than one party is responsible for causing an accident, proving that your fault is minimal is critical. Without an experienced personal injury attorney on your side, insurance companies will try to take advantage of you. Fielding Law won’t let that happen.

Can You Always Recover Damages?

Texas and Utah use modified comparative negligence to decide if you can receive compensation for your injuries after a lane-splitting accident. If you are over 50% responsible for causing the accident, you can’t recover damages.

Suppose you are 20% responsible for causing the collision, and the total damages are $100,000. The most you can receive is $80,000 because your percentage of fault reduces compensation by the same amount. $100,000 – 20% ($20,000) = $80,000.

What Kinds of Damages Are Available?

Lane splitting accident claims are personal injury cases. Every state can set regulations about the kinds of compensation injured accident victims can obtain.

Economic Damages

Lane splitting accidents can cause many financial difficulties for the victims injured in the crash. Economic damages may pay for certain expenses, including:

  • Medical treatments
  • Lost wages due to missing work
  • Costs of hiring a caregiver
  • Medications, rehabilitation, and medical equipment
  • Vehicle or motorcycle repair or replacement
  • Lost earning capacity for those who can’t return to work for extended periods or permanently

Keep your bills and receipts for these expenses because your attorney will use them to calculate your economic damages.

Non-Economic Damages

Not all injuries have a corresponding dollar amount but can still significantly impact your life. Non-economic damages attempt to compensate victims for things like:

  • Emotional, mental, and physical pain and suffering
  • PTSD, anxiety, and depression
  • Inconvenience
  • Damage to personal relationships
  • Diminished enjoyment of life

How severely these issues affect you plays a part in how much compensation you might get.

Punitive Damages

These damages don’t apply to all cases. If the at-fault party is reckless or malicious, they may have to pay punitive damages to their victims. These damages intend to punish the guilty party further and try to prevent them and others from repeating the same types of behavior in the future.

If you think your accident involved these behaviors, tell your attorney from Fielding Law. We will investigate and seek these damages if your case qualifies.

Why Should You Choose Fielding Law?

We focus on personal injury law, so we understand the sometimes-challenging situations you may face if you sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident. Not only do you need to focus on healing without worrying about legal issues, but you also have financial concerns. Don’t worry; Fielding Law is here to help you.

With our firm, all our clients receive a personal touch. We:

  • Provide direct access to your attorney
  • Keep you updated about your claim
  • Respond to your questions promptly
  • Give each case the attention it deserves
  • Effectively process your claim
  • Seek maximum compensation for your damages

Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation. Call us or use live chat 24/7, or submit our online form. We have offices in Texas and Utah for your convenience.