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Motorcycle Accidents and Lane Splitting

By Norman Younker on June 01, 2014


Motorcycle Accidents Lane SplittingIn Utah, motorcycle accidents caused by lane splitting are relatively rare, largely because bikers in the state understand that the practice of lane splitting - or lane sharing - is:

  • Extremely hazardous
  • Illegal in most states, including Utah
  • Highly risky considering that the average Utah motorist is not used to sharing a lane with another vehicle and may not see the motorcycle or panic and react badly to seeing the motorcycle

That said, some inexperienced or reckless motorcyclists, or bikers visiting from a state where lane splitting is legal such as California, may attempt to ride in a lane occupied by a car, truck, van, or SUV in Utah. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC are committed to providing exceptional legal representation to those who are injured by the negligence of others. While lane splitting may be a dangerous and illegal practice in our state, that does not free other drivers from their obligation to be vigilant and exercise due caution in operating their vehicles. If you or a member of your family has been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by the unsafe or reckless driving of another driver, then you may be entitled to at least partial damages, even if lane splitting was involved.

The Doctrine of Comparative Negligence

Bikers who engage in lane splitting while operating their motorcycles are almost certainly going to be considered at least partially responsible for any accident that results. However, depending on the circumstances surrounding an individual case, our skilled motorcycle accident attorneys may be able to argue that the motorcyclist is still entitled to a portion of the damages he or she would be due if there had been no violation of the law on his or her part. The doctrine of comparative negligence allows injured victims to collect a percentage of the overall damages that would otherwise be awarded, adjusted according to the percentage to which they were at fault for the accident.

By way of example, imagine for a moment that there is a collision between a motorcycle and a truck. In slow-moving traffic, the biker rode forward by sharing lanes with other vehicles. While doing so, the driver of the truck tried to execute a lane change, colliding with the motorcycle in the process. It is discovered that the driver of the truck was operating his vehicle under the influence of alcohol. The biker takes civil action against the truck driver, filing a personal injury claim for damages. The court finds that the biker was 35 percent at fault for the accident due to his lane splitting, while the truck driver was 65 percent at fault for driving under the influence of alcohol and making an unsafe lane change. The biker would then be eligible to recover 65 percent of the damages he would be entitled to if he had not contributed to the accident.

It is important to note that, in the state of Utah, accident victims must be less than 50 percent at-fault for an accident in order to qualify for damages. Parties that are 50 percent or more at-fault for an accident cannot recover damages through Utah civil courts.

Contact Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC

To learn more about your legal rights as a biker, or to arrange for an evaluation of your case, please contact Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC today.

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