California is the only state that legalized lane splitting by motorcycles. However, riders in Florida, where it is illegal, may receive a moving vehicle citation under Section 316.209 of the Florida Traffic Statutes.
Motorcyclists injured in an accident while lane splitting can also face challenges when attempting to collect damages from a negligent party. They might argue that the rider bears partial responsibility for the accident, which could lead to reduced damages or even a complete denial of an accident claim.
If you have suffered serious injuries while riding your bike in Florida, call us at Kogan & DiSalvo to consult with a motorcycle accident attorney. We understand the dynamics of riding and why, at times, a motorcyclist might have a good reason to ride between designated traffic lanes. Our firm is the Gold Standard for motorcycle personal injury law in Southern Florida. We fight to get the full damages awards that our clients need to help them get back on their bikes.
How are lane splitting and lane filtering defined?
A motorcyclist is lane splitting when they ride between clearly marked traffic lanes in the same direction of travel. A rider is lane filtering when they move between stopped vehicles at an intersection with traffic signals. It is technically a form of lane splitting. However, a rider might do this as a last resort to avoid being rear-ended by other traffic in stop-and-go conditions.
In any case, the rider’s reasons and motivations for these actions will be an important consideration in an accident and negligence lawsuit where they are seeking to recover damages for injuries.
How do a motorcyclist’s actions affect a negligence lawsuit?
Florida applies a modified comparative negligence standard to assess liability in auto accidents and motorcycle collisions. Under these standards, a rider’s right to collect compensation will be reduced in proportion to their liability up to 50%. If they are found liable beyond 50%, they are barred from recovery entirely. For example, a motorcyclist who crashes while lane splitting might be deemed 20% liable. If they suffer $100,000 in damages, that amount will be reduced by their liability. Alternatively, if they are found to be 60% liable, they will be unable to recover anything at all.
A knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer will use all of the facts and circumstances to demonstrate that the motorcyclist was taking all possible actions to stay visible and avoid the accident–even if it involved lane splitting or lane filtering. They will be able to collect a larger damages award when their lawyer can show that they were not responsible for the accident.
How does a motorcycle accident lawyer show that a motorcyclist was operating safely?
Although there is a continuing debate over whether lane splitting is safe, liability insurers and others consider it dangerous. This is because a rider who falls off their bike while lane splitting is more likely to be seriously hurt. Therefore, your opportunity to recover a larger damages award will be greater when you can demonstrate that you consistently adhere to motorcycle safety standards which include:
- Remaining hypervigilant about surroundings and riding conditions
- Avoiding riding while roadways are wet or when inclement weather is likely
- Wearing a helmet and other appropriate safety gear (Florida exempts riders over the age of 21 from wearing a helmet if they carry adequate medical liability insurance)
- Operating a bike that matches the rider’s skill level and riding it within its limits
- Using appropriate signals
- Maintaining your bike’s tires, brakes, and mechanical systems.
Call Kogan & DiSalvo for a free consultation
At Kogan & DiSalvo appreciate the allure of riding on Southern Florida’s roads and highways. However, we always recommend that our motorcyclist clients follow all traffic laws and avoid unsafe lane splitting practices. We also realize that motorcycle accidents do happen despite their efforts to ride as safely as possible. Therefore, when accidents do happen, we fight tirelessly to get our clients the compensation they need to enable their recovery and to get them back on their bikes as quickly as possible.
Contact us promptly after your Southern Florida motorcycle accident for a complimentary consultation, answers to your lane splitting questions, and recommendations on how you can collect the largest damages awards in your motorcycle accident case.