It is not uncommon to see a motorcyclist riding on the center line between two lanes of traffic. This is especially common when traffic comes to a standstill.
While lane splitting like this was not legal in Texas, it was not illegal, either. The new motorcycle law, HB-4122, changed this for motorcyclists throughout the state. However, the new law has highlighted a few exceptions to the rule.
One is two motorcycles riding beside each other in the same lane. Another is for police officers while performing official duties.
The new law has clarified what is and is not legal regarding lane splitting.
Understanding the Dangers of Lane Splitting
While lane splitting may seem effective for motorcyclists to get through congested traffic, it presents several risks. Knowing what these are can help everyone understand why it is best avoided.
Unpredictability of Other Drivers
One of the main dangers of lane splitting is the unpredictability of other drivers. Motorists may not anticipate a motorcycle moving between lanes, leading to sudden lane changes or door openings that can cause serious accidents.
Reduced Space for Maneuvering
Lane splitting significantly reduces the space available for motorcyclists to maneuver. This limited space and proximity to other vehicles increase the risk of side-swiping and other types of collisions.
Higher Speed Differential
Lane splitting often occurs when other vehicles are moving slowly or stopped. The speed differential between the motorcycle and the other vehicles can be dangerous, as it reduces the reaction time for both the motorcyclist and the drivers of the surrounding vehicles.
Legal Implications and the Role of a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
As mentioned above, lane splitting is now illegal in Texas. Because of this, if an accident occurs while a motorcyclist engages in this, determining liability can be challenging.
If a motorcyclist is involved in an accident while lane splitting, they may face challenges in seeking compensation due to the illegal nature of the maneuver. This is where a motorcycle accident lawyer can provide guidance. The attorney hired can gather evidence to determine fault and negotiate with insurance companies to secure fair compensation.
Common Injuries Seen in Lane Splitting Accidents
When lane-splitting accidents occur, the motorcyclist involved often sustains serious injuries. These accidents can even be fatal.
Some of the most common injuries seen with lane-splitting accidents include:
Head and Brain Injuries
One of the most severe categories of injuries in lane-splitting accidents involves head and brain trauma. Motorcyclists, even with helmets, are at significant risk of concussions or traumatic brain injuries. In some cases, these impacts can lead to skull fractures or internal bleeding, requiring immediate medical attention.
Upper Body Injuries
Accidents during lane splitting can also result in serious upper-body injuries. These include fractured or broken collarbones and shoulders, often caused by direct impact on vehicles or the road. Neck injuries, such as whiplash, are also common due to the sudden jarring movements during a collision. Additionally, spinal cord injuries can occur, which are particularly concerning as they can lead to long-term paralysis or mobility issues.
Lower Body Injuries
The lower body is equally vulnerable in lane-splitting accidents. Motorcyclists often suffer from broken or fractured legs and knees due to collisions with vehicles or as they fall. Ankles and hips are also at risk, with injuries ranging from sprains and fractures to dislocations.
Abrasions and Road Rash
A very common result of lane-splitting accidents is abrasions or road rash. These injuries occur when a motorcyclist slides across the pavement, leading to severe skin abrasions. Sometimes, these can be deep enough to require stitches or even surgery.
Lastly, internal injuries are a serious concern in lane-splitting accidents. These can include internal bleeding, organ damage, punctured lungs, or rib fractures. Such injuries are particularly dangerous because they may not be immediately apparent yet require urgent medical care.
Compensation for Lane Splitting Accidents under Texas Law
In Texas, the legal landscape surrounding compensation for lane-splitting accidents is complex, primarily due to the state’s stance. As lane splitting is illegal in Texas, this can significantly impact a motorcyclist’s ability to seek compensation following an accident.
Comparative Fault System
Texas operates under a modified comparative fault system. This means that if a motorcyclist is found partially at fault for an accident due to lane splitting, their ability to recover damages may be reduced proportionally to their degree of fault. If the motorcyclist is more than 50% at fault, they may be barred from recovering any compensation.
Impact on Insurance Claims
When a motorcyclist is involved in a lane-splitting accident, insurance companies may be reluctant to provide compensation, citing the illegal nature of lane-splitting. This can make negotiating with insurance companies particularly challenging.
While seeking compensation for a lane-splitting accident is challenging due to the state’s traffic laws, it is not impossible.
The Role of a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Being involved in a motorcycle accident can be overwhelming. You may have serious injuries and be focused on your recovery. However, it is still necessary to consider the legal side of your case.
There are specific time limitations in Corpus Christi regarding filing an accident claim. Hiring an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help you meet this deadline and help with other parts of the legal process.
Legal Representation and Advice
Legal representation is vital if you’re involved in an accident while lane splitting. A motorcycle accident lawyer can offer advice on how to proceed, considering the specific circumstances of your case and the laws in Texas.
Investigating the Accident
An experienced lawyer will thoroughly investigate the accident, gathering evidence to build a strong case. This may include reviewing traffic camera footage, interviewing witnesses, and consulting accident reconstruction experts.
Negotiating with Insurance Companies
Motorcycle accident lawyers are adept at negotiating with insurance companies. They understand the tactics insurers may use to minimize payouts and can advocate for fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
In cases where lane splitting leads to an accident, determining liability can be complex. A motorcycle accident lawyer will work to prove negligence on the part of the other involved parties and pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
Your Legal Rights and Options After a Lane Splitting Accident
You may think recovering compensation is impossible if you are involved in an accident while engaging in lane splitting. While this can be challenging, you should not give up hope.
At Burkett Law Firm, we have represented motorcycle accident victims for years and can help you with your case. The first step is to call our office to schedule an appointment.