Who is At Fault in a Lane-Splitting Accident?
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- Who is At Fault in a Lane-Splitting Accident?
For motorcyclists and motorists alike, lane splitting tends to be a hot topic with a range of strong opinions. However, no matter our personal thoughts on the practice, the truth is a lane-splitting accident can cause a number of problems for all involved – whether physical, financial, or emotional.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a lane-splitting accident, it is important to have up-to-date, accurate information on your legal rights and the options available to you. When you work with one of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Phillips Law Group, you put your case in the hands of a team of legal professionals who can fight for you and your family to receive the full compensation you are owed.
Our law firm is proud to offer the legal advice and support that you need. We care about providing each client with the professional representation necessary after an accident. Contact us today at 1-800-706-3000 for a free consultation.
What Exactly is Lane Splitting?
There are a few terms for a motorcyclist who travels between lanes. These words and phrases are sometimes used interchangeably, easily leading to confusion.
For example, in some areas, the term for a motorcycle advancing past slow-moving or stopped vehicles is referred to as “lane splitting.”
In other states, though, this practice is referred to as “lane filtering.” In these areas, lane splitting only refers to the practice of a motorcycle weaving through traffic at a higher rate of speed by traveling between the lines.
Lane Splitting and Motorcycle Safety
One major concern of motorcyclists on the road is being involved in a rear-end collision. In Arizona in 2020, for example, rear-end accidents made up approximately 30 percent of all motorcycle crashes and 10 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents.
Whether lane splitting improves motorcycle safety is contested. Groups such as the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) endorse lane splitting, pointing to certain studies that show lane-splitting improves motorcyclist safety in congested traffic. In these cases, lane splitting is seen as a way for motorcyclists to avoid being caught in heavy, slow-moving traffic where drivers are more likely to be distracted and pin a motorcycle between two vehicles.
Others are more wary of lane splitting. After all, no practice, safe or not, completely eliminates the risk of an accident. Even the University of California Berkeley study – widely used to demonstrate the benefits of lane splitting – shows that between 2012 and 2013, California saw nearly 1000 motorcycle crashes that happened while the motorcycle was lane splitting.
Contact the motorcycle accident lawyers at Phillips Law Group today to start your free consultation.
Lane Splitting Legislation
When it comes to lane splitting, California became the only state to explicitly legalize the practice in 2016. Beforehand, as in many states, lane splitting was on neutral ground, with no legislation in place to either ban it or condone it. Since 2016, multiple other states have followed suit, drafting specific legislation to address and regulate lane splitting.
As of May 2022, some of the states that have legislation in place for lane splitting or lane filtering include:
In Arizona, for example, lane filtering was approved by legislation in May 2022. Rather than completely allowing all forms of lane splitting, this legislation established certain conditions in which lane filtering would be legal.
These conditions include:
- Lane filtering can only be done on roads with a speed limit of 45 miles per hour or less
- The motorcycle can only travel up to 15 miles per hour while lane splitting
- The street must have at least 2 lanes in the same direction
The motorcycle accident lawyers at Phillips Law Group understand how important it is to stay up to date on legislation and legal precedents surrounding personal injury law. Reach out to us today to learn more about local laws that could impact your potential claim.
How Fault is Determined After an Accident
One of the most important steps in a successful motorcycle accident claim is determining fault. The impact fault has on a potential accident claim depends on the state in which the accident occurred. In the case of a lane-splitting accident, the question of negligence on the part of the motorcyclist and the motorist is at play when it comes to compensation.
For example, is lane splitting or lane filtering considered legal in the state where the accident occurred? If so, was the motorcyclist or the motorist following the safety regulations and recommendations in place?
Depending on state law, the answers to these questions can either reduce the amount of compensation available to the injured parties or bar them from recovering compensation entirely. It depends whether the state in question applies comparative negligence, contributory negligence, or no-fault law.
Under comparative negligence, the amount of compensation a personal injury victim can recover is reduced by his or her level of fault. Comparative negligence is generally broken into two types:
- Pure comparative negligence: A personal injury victim can recover compensation no matter his or her level of fault. For example, someone who was 99 percent at fault for the accident could still recover 1 percent of damages. (Ex. Arizona, Florida, Missouri, and Washington).
- Modified comparative negligence: Most states operate under a modified comparative negligence system, meaning that injury victims can only recover compensation if they are under a specific limit of fault, either 50 or 51 percent. (Ex. Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada).
Under a contributory negligence system, a personal injury victim is only able to recover compensation if he or she had no fault in the accident. Even 1 percent fault is enough to stop an injured party from recovering any compensation. This strict system is only followed in a few states, such as Alabama, the District of Columbia, and Virginia.
A number of states also employ no-fault law. This means that each party’s personal insurance company is required to provide compensation for damages incurred in an accident. This system is in place to reduce the necessity of personal injury lawsuits in order to win compensation. States that apply this rule include New York, Minnesota, and Utah.
However, in many cases, personal injury lawsuits are possible and at times necessary even in states with no-fault insurance laws. For example, there are often limits to the insurance settlement that do not exist within personal injury law. Car accident victims may sometimes be able to recover additional compensation from the liable party through a lawsuit.
Contact the Team at Phillips Law Group After Any Motorcycle Accident
At Phillips Law Group, we want to ensure that injured victims receive the maximum compensation they are entitled to after an accident. We are familiar with the tactics insurance companies use to deny claims or in an attempt to reduce the potential settlement, and we work hard to protect our client’s legal rights.
If you or a family member has been involved in a lane-splitting accident, we are here to help. Our lawyers and legal professionals have decades of experience handling personal injury claims, recovering millions in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients.
By working on a contingency fee basis and offering a free consultation to prospective clients, we ensure that you can receive the legal help you need without an additional financial burden during a difficult time. Contact us today at 1-800-706-3000 for a free case review of your potential claim.
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