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Does lane-splitting mean hurt motorcyclists can’t file lawsuits?

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2021 | Auto Accident Injuries |

Most crashes that occur between motorcycles and larger passenger vehicles have obvious causes. Someone merges right into a motorcyclist because they didn’t notice them, or a driver runs a red light and tragedy ensues.

Such clear-cut cases can make it easy for people to seek compensation through civil lawsuits and lead to straightforward insurance claims. However, sometimes there are situations where fault isn’t as clear.

For example, what happens when a driver strikes a motorcyclist but that motorcyclist made a questionable or even illegal maneuver right before the crash? Lane-splitting is a way for motorcycle riders to move quickly through traffic. Will it affect their rights if they get hurt in a crash?

Lane-splitting is not legal in New York

Every state has different rules for traffic, but one of the most universal motorcycle rules is the rule against lane-splitting. A motorcycle cannot share a lane with another vehicle, even if there is space for them to maneuver there. Such maneuvers are only legal in California.

Lane-splitting is popular because it allows a motorcyclist to capitalize on the size of their vehicle by moving quickly through multiple lanes of traffic. Such maneuvers, unfortunately, make it difficult for nearby drivers to predict someone’s next move. If a police officer sees someone lane splitting on a motorcycle, they might stop that person and issue a citation.

What effect does lane-splitting have on a personal injury claim?

New York recognizes the concept of contributory negligence in personal injury lawsuits. A person can be partially responsible for a situation without being fully at fault, and their partial fault doesn’t absolve the other party of all responsibility.

Someone with contributory negligence, such as a biker who was lane-splitting immediately prior to a motorcycle crash, still has the right to ask for compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

However, the courts will have to evaluate their impact on circumstances and will likely reduce whatever compensation they receive by the percentage of fault or contributory negligence that the courts assigns. The better you understand motorcycle laws and personal injury claims, the easier it will be to ask for the compensation you deserve after a motorcycle crash.


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