A ride across the city or out in the country shouldn’t come at the price of your safety or your wellbeing. Philadelphia drivers are required to respect a motorcyclist’s right to the same lanes they use.
Often this respect is not observed and dangerous collisions can result. In some cases, a lane-splitting maneuver on the part of the rider may give at-fault drivers a false sense of security. They may think the motorcyclist will automatically be blamed for an accident, but in fact, motorists are still expected to take caution around someone on a motorcycle no matter where they may be traveling.
Pennsylvania Lane Splitting Laws
Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides in between lanes of traffic. This usually involves slowed or stopped traffic. A motorcyclist may be sharing the lane with another car or riding on the traffic lines between two vehicles.
At this point, California is the only state in the country that allows lane splitting. In 2019, Utah legalized a form of lane splitting in certain situations. They call it lane filtering, meaning riders can travel between stopped cars when there are two or more lanes going the same direction.
Many states don’t regard lane splitting as a legal move, but also don’t have any laws on the books that make it specifically illegal.
Pennsylvania is among those states that expressly prohibit lane splitting. This means that if a motorcyclist is injured in a collision while between lanes they will often be blamed for the accident and could be blocked from collecting damages from the other driver.
Getting Compensation in a Lane Splitting Accident
Generally, insurance companies like to blame motorcyclists in accidents cases no matter the circumstances. When lane splitting is involved the insurance agent may automatically assume their driver is in the clear. If this is allowed to stand, injured motorcyclists may be robbed of money to help with hospital bills and their time missed on their jobs.
Having an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer from The Pearce Law Firm of Philadelphia on your side could help you make a successful claim for damages. There are factors that can earn a settlement or court verdict in favor of the rider if certain factors are highlighted. If the motorist’s actions just before the accident were negligent or downright dangerous then a motorcyclist may be able to win compensation even though they were technically breaking a traffic law.
These circumstances may be helpful evidence in a motorcycle accident case:
- The driver was obviously distracted and moving erratically. Perhaps you or another witness observed them using a cell phone.
- The driver was careless and breaking other laws when the collision occurred. Drivers may have been straddling lanes themselves, speeding, or changing lanes without signaling.
- The motorcyclist was driving cautiously. Not using excessive speed.
- The motorcyclist is an experienced rider and has completed safety courses.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I was partially to blame for my motorcycle accident?
A motorcyclist may have been breaking the law, but he or she may still be able to win some compensation in a settlement. Pennsylvania is a comparative negligence state and that means drivers involved in a traffic accident can share the blame.
You may be assigned 30% of the blame for riding between lanes, but the other driver could be assigned 70% of the blame for their own reckless behavior in the incident. If you win compensation your percentage of blame would be subtracted from your total award. In Pennsylvania, you can be up to 50% at fault in an accident and still hope to receive compensation. If you are assigned 51% or more of the blame you won’t be allowed to collect damages.
What if I wasn’t wearing a helmet in my accident?
Pennsylvania doesn’t require riders wear a helmet if they are 21-years-old or older and have had proper experience or taken safety courses. But if you are injured in an accident, the lack of a helmet may cost you some of your compensation.
The concept of comparative negligence mentioned above would apply here also. You might be assigned a percentage of the liability for your injuries if a helmet would have protected you. Still, the other driver may have to pay out some compensation for their part of the blame.
If I was a passenger on a motorcycle during an accident, can I file a claim?
You can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance just like any other victim of an accident, even if it is the driver of the bike you were on. Any lawsuit you file would generally target the person’s insurance company, not the driver directly. That person pays insurance premiums for this purpose, to make sure victims in collisions are taken care of.
Contact a Philadelphia Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Whether you were lane splitting or not, you deserve safe passage on Pennsylvania roads. If a careless driver hit you and left you hurt and facing expensive medical bills, please talk to an attorney experienced in defending riders after tragic accidents. Our lawyers can make sure insurance companies can’t ignore or dismiss your claim for help with physical and financial hardships.
After any accident involving a serious injury, contact a highly rated Philadelphia Motorcycle Accident Lawyer such as Edith Pearce. Edith Pearce is personally involved in every case that we handle. She genuinely cares about her clients and you will not be treated like just another case or file.