Determining Fault in a Car Accident with a Lane Passing Motorcycle


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One of the biggest risks associated with driving beside a motorcycle occurs when the motorcyclist decides to split a lane. This term, which literally means creating a third lane between two existing lanes, is a way for a motorcyclist to pass between two vehicles. Splitting lanes is one of the major reasons for motorcycle accidents and can also make determining fault in a car accident with a motorcycle very complex. 

Illegal or Legal Maneuver?

Although many drivers assume that lane splitting is illegal, it is not always so depending on the state in which the accident occurs. In some states there are specific statutes that prohibit lane splitting while other states evaluate the conditions and the techniques used by the motorcyclist to determine the legality of the maneuver. California is one of the few states that allows lane splitting and doesn't have any prohibitive laws; however the motorcyclist must be acting in a safe and responsible manner.

Determining Fault: Car Accident with Lane Splitting

If lane splitting is prohibited under motor vehicle laws, any motorcyclist that is involved in a car accident when lane splitting is going to be considered at fault. Keep in mind that if the driver was negligent in checking before changing lanes or turning he or she could also be found negligent. This determination of fault will be instrumental in influencing what settlement will be offered through the insurance company.

In California where lane splitting is legal, the motorcyclist or driver must prove the other's negligence or fault. Typically if the lane splitting was done irresponsibly and did not follow a safe lane splitting technique then the motorcyclist can be found at fault. Likewise a driver that failed to shoulder check or check the mirrors and blind spot of the vehicle before changing lanes may be found completely at fault for any collision that occurs.

Legal Advice

As either the driver of the vehicle or the driver of the motorcycle it is important to seek qualified legal help from a personal injury attorney. Proving the negligence of the other driver is a complex issue and one that will have a huge impact on your ability to obtain compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and repairs or replacement of the vehicle or motorcycle. This often grey area of the motor vehicle laws can be very complex and getting an attorney involved early in the case is essential.

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