Sometimes actions that are allowed under the law are still harmful to you in court. One common example of this in motorcycling is lane splitting. Lane splitting is different from lane sharing: rather than riding side-by-side with a similar vehicle, lane splitting involves riding in between two full lanes of traffic. In some cases, it is used to bypass slow-moving or stopped traffic by moving through or around a traffic jam.
In other cases, it is used at intersections to move up between the lanes of vehicles waiting at the light. Sometimes this can be safer than stopping at the end of a lane of cars, which may expose you to drivers rear-ending your motorcycle because they didn’t notice it at the back of the line. Unfortunately, even in cases where lane splitting seems to be physically safer, it puts you at risk of having your injury claim denied.
Lane Splitting Under Law
North Carolina law is somewhat fuzzy on the subject of lane splitting. Splitting lanes is not actually illegal but the state does not have any laws on the books to protect motorcycle riders who choose to do it, as some other states do. There are also a handful of laws that a lawyer defending against your claim might bring up because they can be interpreted in ways that would make lane splitting illegal; the best example of this is the regulation that forbids passing another vehicle on the right unless it is in a left turn lane. As long as you avoid breaking other laws while you are splitting lanes, though, you should be on firm ground legally.
If you are hurt in a motorcycle accident while splitting lanes, it is likely that liability for the accident will be assigned to you, since insurance providers often consider this to be reckless behavior. Since North Carolina is a contributory defense state, any negligence attributed to you can prevent you from receiving any damages at all.
Defending Your Claim
While lane splitting can seriously damage your claim, there are ways to defend it. If the car or truck driver involved in the accident behaved carelessly or recklessly, they may be considered liable for the accident, as long as whatever they did was more reckless and more dangerous than your own actions. If you or your motorcycle accident attorney can show that you were exercising caution at the time of the accident (splitting lanes carefully rather than weaving or driving above the speed limit), this can further bolster your claim. Witness statements and police reports are helpful in this regard. It is also useful to provide documentation showing that you are an experienced motorcyclist or that you have completed a course in motorcycle safety and riding, especially if you have made a habit of taking refresher courses in safety every now and then.
How to Split Lanes Safely
Your number one best defense if you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident is the ability to prove that you were driving safely. Exercise caution the whole time, keep your speed just above the flow of traffic (not too high above but not too close either), stay alert for cars that are about to change lanes, avoid blind spots and vehicles that have poor lane position or are too close to other vehicles. Keep your headlights on and wear something bright and easily visible, such as reflective clothing. If you are hurt in a motorcycle accident, especially if your claim has weaknesses like lane splitting, start collecting documentation and get in contact with a competent motorcycle accident attorney right away.