Motorcycles have a lot more flexibility when it comes to maneuvering through traffic. One of the ways this is sometimes done, especially when traffic is slow-moving, is lane splitting. But not only is this dangerous and may cause a motorcycle accident, but it’s also against the law in Pennsylvania.
An Overview of Lane Splitting
The act of lane splitting is when a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of traffic. So while cars might be stopped or slowed, a motorcycle easily can navigate through backed-up traffic. There are two issues at hand with lane splitting. The first is the danger with this type of driving maneuver and the second is the law.
It is dangerous for a motorcycle to move in between vehicles. When other drivers aren’t expecting someone to come up from behind, a lane change or turn could result in a collision if a driver decides to change lanes suddenly. Also, the motorcycle could be in the driver’s blind spot.
Although some states allow lane splitting, that isn’t the case in Pennsylvania, which bans the practice of driving between lanes of traffic.
Fault in an Accident Involving Lane Splitting
If there is a collision between a motorcycle and another vehicle, it would need to be determined whether a motorcyclist or driver was at fault. Although a rider could be given a citation for violating this traffic law, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she is completely at fault.
Let’s say another motorist made a sudden lane change without using the turn signal or checking for other vehicles. Although it doesn’t detract from the violation of lane-splitting laws, it could be considered a contributing factor in the accident.
Another example would be if the driver of a vehicle is intoxicated, and as a result, drifts in and out of the lane. If a motorcycle is driving between lanes and gets struck, the impaired driver still may be considered at fault.
In situations such as this, often both parties would be in the wrong. Because Pennsylvania follows modified comparative fault (51 percent) negligence rules, each party involved could be assigned a degree of responsibility. However, for a motorcyclist to be entitled to any damages, his/her fault would need to be 50 percent or less. Any percentage of fault higher than that wouldn’t entitle the motorcyclist to compensation.
Whatever degree of fault is assigned will impact the amount of damages that can be recovered. If, for example, the motorcyclist’s damages amounted to $50,000, but he/she was found to be 15 percent liable for the accident due to lane splitting, the award would be reduced by $7,500.
But if the other driver was not found to have done anything wrong, then lane splitting could be determined as the cause of the accident. As a result, the motorcyclist would not be entitled to damages, no matter how severe his/her injuries.
Damages in a Motorcycle Accident
When a motorcyclist has been seriously injured in a crash and another driver is partially or completely at fault, different types of damages may be available. Generally these include medical and hospital expenses, property damage and lost income. But there may be additional losses addressed in an accident claim such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, disability, and more.
However, if lane splitting was an issue in the accident, then it will be important to seek legal counsel. An attorney will investigate the matter and determine if there were other contributing factors. To learn more about one’s rights when seriously injured in a crash, don’t delay in contacting an attorney at Cordisco & Saile LLC.