Lane splitting, where riders maneuver between lanes of traffic, is often seen as a way to navigate through congestion. However, Indiana’s stance on this is clear and unambiguous. According to the law, lane splitting is prohibited to ensure the safety of all road users, including motorcyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers.
If we consider that there are hundreds of motorcycle-related accidents each year in Indiana, understanding the regulations that affect motorcyclists is key if you are involved in an accident
Why It Is Dangerous to Split the Lane
The act of lane splitting poses several risks, primarily due to the reduced space for maneuvering and the limited reaction time available to motorcyclists. When riders split lanes, they are closer to other vehicles than usual, increasing the likelihood of collisions in situations like sudden stops or lane changes.
One of the most severe outcomes of such accidents is traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). TBIs range from mild concussions to severe brain damage, affecting not just physical health but also cognitive and emotional well-being. On the other hand, we also have assisted victims of motorcycle accidents suffering other catastrophic, life-altering injuries who need to pursue compensation to recover.
Legality of Lane Splitting in Indiana
Indiana’s prohibition of lane splitting is stated in the Indiana Code and is designed to protect motorcyclists and other road users as well. The law reflects a commitment to road safety and aims to reduce the risks associated with motorcycle riding, as this practice can lead to dangerous situations.
Motorcyclists must familiarize themselves with state laws and practice safe riding habits to ensure their safety and the safety of others on the road. But, what happens when a negligent motorcyclist causes an accident due to lane splitting? If you unfortunately find this scenario familiar, then the law allows you to take legal action against the negligent party.
Lane Splitting and Comparative Fault
Comparative fault comes into play when determining liability in an accident as this principle acknowledges that more than one party can be at fault in an accident. For instance, if a motorcyclist is lane splitting and an accident occurs, the motorcyclist may bear a significant portion of the fault. However, if the other driver involved was also engaging in negligent behavior, such as texting while driving or making an unsafe lane change, the fault may be shared.
This shared fault is crucial in personal injury claims arising from such incidents. Under Indiana’s comparative fault system, the amount of compensation a victim can receive is reduced by their percentage of fault in the accident. Therefore, if a motorcyclist engaged in illegal lane splitting is found to be 40% at fault for an accident, and the other driver 60%, the motorcyclist’s potential compensation will be reduced accordingly.
Types of Accidents Related to Lane Splitting
These motorcycle accidents usually occur due to the reduced space for maneuvering and the close proximity to other vehicles, which can lead to a variety of collision types:
- Rear-end collisions: Occur when a vehicle abruptly stops, and a lane splitting motorcyclist cannot react in time, leading to a collision with the back of the vehicle.
- Sideswipe accidents: Happen when a motorcyclist attempts to pass between two vehicles, but misjudges the available space or a vehicle unexpectedly changes lanes.
- Opening door accidents: These accidents take place in urban settings, where a parked car’s door is opened into the path of a lane splitting motorcyclist.
- Angle collisions: Occur at intersections where a vehicle turns into the path of a lane splitting motorcyclist, often due to misjudgment of the motorcycle’s speed or not noticing the motorcycle at all.
- Head-on collisions: While less common, these can occur in situations where a lane splitting motorcyclist moves into oncoming traffic to bypass congestion.
The dynamics of lane splitting create unique risks, not just for the motorcyclist but also for other road users, including drivers and pedestrians.
Legal Options Against a Negligent Motorcyclist
In the event of an accident caused by lane splitting, determining liability is a key factor. Since lane splitting is not permitted under Indiana law, the motorcyclist may be found at fault for the accident, and you can claim compensation for the associated damages. However, each case has its unique aspects, and liability may not always be straightforward. For instance, if another driver’s negligence also contributed to the accident, there might be shared liability and you might not have a chance to win.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
If you have a motorcycle accident case, chances are your lawyers consider filing a personal injury claim against the negligent driver. Personal injury claims in lane splitting cases can involve seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The process of filing these claims requires a thorough understanding of Indiana’s traffic and personal injury laws, and successful claims often hinge on demonstrating how the other party’s actions contributed to the accident.
Alternative Legal Recourse – Insurance Claims
In addition to filing a personal injury claim against the negligent driver, another option you can consider is filing an insurance claim. If you have comprehensive insurance coverage, it may provide coverage for damages and injuries sustained in an accident caused by a lane splitting motorcyclist.
By filing an insurance claim, you may be able to recover compensation for medical expenses, property damage, and other losses without going through a formal legal process. However, it’s important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney at Christie Farrell & Lee Bell to review your insurance policy and determine the best course of action for your specific situation.
The Role of an Attorney in Assisting You Following a Lane Splitting Incident
A skilled attorney can provide guidance through the complexities of the legal system and help protect your rights against insurance companies. We have seen how often these companies offer low settlements that don’t represent the real losses of the victims, taking advantage of such vulnerable situations.
If you’ve been involved in a lane splitting incident and need legal assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team is equipped to provide the support and representation you need to navigate the legal aspects of your situation.