If you’re injured in a motorcycle crash caused by “lane splitting,” arrange at once to discuss your rights with a Houston motorcycle accident attorney. Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist rides between rows or lanes of halted or slow-moving traffic heading the same direction.
Lane splitting is legal in several states, and it is a common practice on streets and highways in Europe and Asia. However, lane splitting is not legal in the State of Texas. Motorcyclists in Texas who cause an accident by lane splitting will be considered at-fault, wholly or partially.
What is the Definition of Lane Splitting?
A motorcyclist is lane splitting when he or she crosses the painted lines in the road to move between and past slow moving vehicles. The practice is used extensively by many experienced motorcyclists. Lane splitting reduces riding time, but the precise definition varies in each state.
Several states have legalized lane splitting under particular conditions. It remains against the law in Texas, where vehicles may only move within a single marked lane. A $175 fine is the typical penalty for lane splitting in this state.
What Is “Comparative Negligence” in Texas?
If a collision happens when a motorcyclist is lane splitting, the other party may insist that the motorcyclist was at least partly responsible for the accident, and as Texas is a “comparative negligence” state, the motorcyclist could have his or her compensation for the accident reduced.
Under the comparative negligence principle in this state, each party in a traffic collision is assigned a percentage of the fault. Let’s say that Driver A makes a sudden and reckless lane change and crashes into Motorcyclist B, who was lane splitting.
An auto insurance company – or a judge or jury, if the case goes to trial – might find that Driver A was sixty percent responsible for the collision because of the reckless lane change and that Motorcyclist B was forty percent responsible for the collision because of lane splitting.
If Motorcyclist B is injured and the damages amount to $100,000, under comparative negligence, Motorcyclist B’s compensation would be reduced by forty percent, and Motorcyclist B would recover $60,000 in damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and related losses.
What Are the Dangers of Lane Splitting?
Tickets and fines are not the only consequences of lane splitting in Texas. The dangers of lane splitting – which can cause severe accidents – include:
- car doors opening unexpectedly
- hands or objects coming unexpectedly out of car windows
- drivers who are turning while unaware of a motorcyclist’s presence
- drivers unexpectedly changing lanes without using blinkers
Even if lane splitting becomes legal in Texas, every driver and motorcyclist will still be responsible to make sure that lane changes are made safely.
How Can Drivers Avoid Collisions With Motorcyclists?
Automobile, bus, and truck drivers can decrease the chances of a collision with a motorcyclist by adhering to these safety recommendations:
- Give motorcycles sufficient space. Motorcyclists have to look for hazards that car and truck drivers seldom notice: potholes and trash or debris in the roadway. Always leave sufficient space for motorcyclists to make safety maneuvers.
- Leaving sufficient space also means not following a motorcycle too closely. Braking distances for motorcycles vary with the driving conditions and even between different motorcycle models and makes. Keep an adequate distance in front of your vehicle.
- Watch for motorcyclists splitting lanes. Texas courts may hold a motorcyclist liable for splitting lanes, but if a car or truck driver is negligent in a collision with a motorcyclist who was lane splitting, a percentage of the fault may be assigned to the driver.
If You Are Involved in a Motorcycle Accident
No matter how safely you drive, you may be involved in a motorcycle accident. If you sustain a personal injury in a motorcycle crash, whether you are the motorcyclist or the other driver, seek or summon medical attention at once, and then call a Houston motorcycle accident lawyer.
Even if you feel fine, if you’re not treated at the scene or taken to the ER, submit to a medical examination within twenty-four hours of any accident. That examination detects any latent injury you’ve suffered, and it also protects you legally, if you need to take legal action later.
If you do not submit to a medical exam immediately after a motorcycle accident, it might be impossible to link your injury directly to that specific collision, and the other party’s insurance company may claim that you were injured in some other way.
How Will a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Help You?
A Houston motorcycle accident attorney will review the evidence to determine how an accident happened and who was at fault. Was the other driver distracted or driving recklessly? Were there eyewitnesses or nearby security cameras? Your attorney will find out.
Your attorney will work with your health care providers to understand your injuries and your future medical needs. The testimony of medical experts can sometimes make the difference in motorcycle accident cases.
How Are Motorcycle Injury Claims Resolved in Texas?
Your attorney will negotiate out-of-court with the other party’s insurance company for the best possible resolution of your injury claim. Most motorcycle injury claims are resolved in this way – privately – and most injury victims do not even have to appear in court.
However, if your injury claim is disputed, if liability for the accident is disputed, or if no reasonable settlement offer is forthcoming in the private negotiations, your Houston motorcycle accident lawyer will take the case to trial.
The deadline (statute of limitations) for filing a motorcycle accident injury claim is two years in Texas, but you can’t wait that long to speak with a lawyer. Don’t even wait two weeks. As soon as you have been examined and/or treated by a medical professional, contact an injury attorney.
What Happens in a Personal Injury Trial?
At a trial, your accident attorney will explain to a jury how you were injured and the extent of your injuries. Your attorney will then ask the jurors to order the payment of your compensation.
The injured victims of negligent motorists may recover compensation for their current and projected future medical expenses, their current and future lost wages, pain and suffering, and related losses.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash in the Houston area, it costs nothing to find out more. Your first meeting with an accident attorney is provided with no cost or obligation, and you’ll pay no lawyer’s fee unless and until your lawyer recovers the compensation you need.