Steven A. Bagen | April 7, 2023 | Motorcycle accident
Lane-splitting is illegal in Florida and most states except California. Florida Statute 316.209 (3) states, “no person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.” Most motorcyclists refrain from these actions, but collisions still happen even when no lane splitting occurs.
Other drivers regularly engage in unlawful conduct that leads them to hit bikers. These drivers will attempt to blame motorcyclists by alleging they were lane splitting or being reckless instead of admitting to their actions. If you suffered injuries, immediately discuss your options with a Florida motorcycle accident lawyer to hold the proper parties responsible.
Lane splitting explained
The term refers to motorcycles maneuvering between two lanes of traffic. Typically the vehicles in the traffic lanes are moving very slowly or at a standstill. Some people confuse lane splitting with lane sharing, but these are two different actions. Lane sharing is when two bikers ride side by side in one traffic lane, and Florida law allows lane sharing if both riders agree to it.
The main reason why lane splitting is unlawful is that safety advocates believe it can put the rider and others in danger. Conversely, many people argue that lane splitting can alleviate traffic and can be safe when motorcyclists do it properly.
Some studies have shown that lane splitting is safe in some instances; for example, if vehicles drive slower than 50 miles an hour. However, riders must have adequate training and experience to make these maneuvers because inexperience can lead to mistakes.
Regardless, the law stands in Florida. Even when motorcyclists follow their traffic laws, other drivers might violate the law and safety standards. Even the safest and most law-abiding motorcyclist can suffer serious injuries due to a negligent driver.
Lane-splitting statistics can change the conversation
When creating or amending traffic laws, government officials should review data. Lane splitting statistics are not easy to collect, but the numbers push for legalizing lane-splitting. In recent years, 8,694 motorcycle accidents resulted in 544 fatalities and over 10,000 injuries.
To limit motorcycle injury and death, Florida might want to consider changing lane-splitting laws. Statistics show fewer motorcyclist get hurt in areas where lane-splitting is legal.
Allegations of lane splitting in Florida motorcycle accident claims
Depending on the county you are driving in, the penalties for alleged lane splitting will vary. However, any motorcyclist pulled over can get a ticket and face fines of $100 or more. If lane splitting results in a collision, the biker is responsible for any damages. However, most motorcycle crashes do not result from lane splitting, as most are not the fault of the motorcyclist.
As a responsible rider, you refrain from lane splitting, but since drivers know they can use the excuse of lane splitting to try to avoid consequences, they will. A driver might rear-end a bike and allege the biker was lane splitting to prevent liability. Motorcyclists should not face penalties or liability in an accident if they were acting within the law.
Injured motorcyclists must fight against false allegations of lane splitting in their accident claims. You need a skilled motorcycle accident attorney who can prove what really happened and challenge accusations of wrongdoing on your part.
Too many people believe they can call motorcyclists reckless and get away with causing harm in an accident. This should never happen, as motorcyclists deserve to share the road safely like anyone else and obtain justice when they suffer injuries due to a driver’s negligence.
Seek help from a motorcycle accident lawyer in Florida today.
Other motorcycle safety laws in Florida
In addition to prohibitions on lane splitting, Florida has other laws aiming to keep motorcyclists safe. These laws should not be weapons for drivers trying to avoid liability for injuries, however.
Motorcycle helmet laws:
Florida requires vehicle occupants to wear seatbelts, and since motorcycles don’t have seatbelts, the law instead requires helmets for certain riders. Helmet laws in Florida require anyone under 21 to wear a helmet. Those over 21 do not have to wear a helmet if they have a minimum of $10,000 in medical insurance to cover potential collision-related injuries.
Whether the law requires it or not, you should wear a helmet for your safety. A helmet can help protect against head injuries in many situations, though no motorcyclist has 100 percent protection from traumatic brain injuries and other trauma.
Many motorcyclists fear they have no rights if they aren’t wearing a helmet when a collision occurs. Insurance companies might try to avoid covering injuries if you did not have a helmet on. However, you can still seek compensation for your losses if you did not wear a helmet. You must speak to a Florida motorcycle accident attorney about helmet laws and discuss how your helmet usage might affect your case.
Motorcycle equipment laws:
Your motorcycle must also have specific equipment to hit the open road, or you can get a ticket and suffer other penalties. Bikers should wear eye protection approved by the Department of Transportation. All lights and mirrors on the vehicle must be in working order, including tail lights, headlights, turn signals, reflectors, and all mirrors. Bike passengers must have a seat and footrest.
Handlebars cannot be higher than a person’s shoulders. Lastly, you should have a license plate like all other vehicles. Riders under 21 will have a different color license plate than riders over 21.
Drivers also have many laws they must follow regarding their vehicles. Even if you maintain your motorcycle in proper order, other drivers might still crash into you and cause serious injuries.
Florida requires you to have a Motorcycle Only license or an endorsement on your driver’s license. You can obtain these endorsements by completing a Basic Rider Course, having a valid ID, and paying an endorsement fee. These are necessary to ride in Florida, and you should take steps to ride safely. You will also need these endorsements when on an out-of-state road trip.
Again, even if you follow all relevant motorcycle safety laws, you cannot prevent others from causing serious collisions. Showing you were in compliance with the law helps to prove that you were not the liable party for your crash.
Contributing factors in Florida motorcycle accidents
While drivers might try to use lane splitting as an excuse to blame riders, driver negligence is usually why motorcycle accidents happen. Drivers cause crashes when they change lanes without looking, slam on their brakes, and back up without checking for motorcycles first.
Other examples of ways drivers cause motorcycle accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Not staying aware of motorcycles nearby
- Not checking mirrors enough
- Impaired driving
- Reckless driving
- Improper turns
When riding, you cannot always foresee when a driver will be negligent, and their carelessness can lead to serious injury in an instant. As a victim, you will need to seek compensation with the help of a Florida motorcycle accident attorney.
Severe injuries in motorcycle accidents
Severe injuries to motorcyclists are prevalent when drivers are negligent. Passenger vehicles have the advantage of size and many safety features, but motorcycles do not provide this level of protection. That means you are more susceptible to suffering a severe injury.
Motorcycle injuries often lead to overwhelming losses and can lead to permanent disability.
Some common motorcycle accident injuries include:
- Road rash
- Broken bones
- Lacerations and contusions
- Soft tissue damage
- Back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Injuries from a motorcycle accident will change your life mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. Healing will be a long road, and getting medical attention and following all doctor recommendations is essential. You need support during this time, and our Florida motorcycle accident lawyers are here to help with the legal process.
Compensation in a motorcycle accident claim
After a motorcycle accident, you can file an insurance claim or lawsuit seeking compensation for your losses. You can seek economic and non-economic damages that you incur from your collision.
- Lost income
- Loss of consortium
- Diminished earning capacity and future lost income
- Medical devices
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Vocational rehabilitation programs
- Disability assistance
- Short and long-term medical care
- Property damage
These and many more damages might be available to injury victims. Each collision is unique, and you need a Florida motorcycle accident lawyer who can determine what compensation you are eligible to seek.
Wrongful death compensation
Motorcycle crashes can be traumatic; sometimes, the rider never makes it home to their families. Loved ones have the right to seek compensation for losing a loved one. You will have two years from the accident date to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer and seek compensation for wrongful death in Florida.
Grieving families can seek wrongful death compensation for:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of guidance
- Loss of household contributions
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of inheritance
Calculating losses in a wrongful death accident can present many challenges, but your lawyer will have the resources to calculate these losses and find a strategy to help you seek damages. There are specific rules for filing wrongful death claims, including who is eligible to file, and your attorney can guide you through this process.
Compensation is not automatic
While a lot of potential compensation is available, you will not receive it automatically. Injury victims must file the right claims and prove they are eligible for the damages they seek. You will have to prove your injuries, fault, and the damage you will incur in the future. You will also have to review insurance policies and find the proper sources of payment. These are all challenging processes that your Florida motorcycle accident lawyer can handle for you.
Accepting compensation offers
The at-fault driver’s insurance company might try to offer you a settlement quickly if they cannot put the blame on you. Do not accept the insurance company’s first offer without legal guidance because it is often much lower than you need. When you sign a settlement agreement, you conclude the case and release the insurer from further liability. You cannot get further compensation after you accept a settlement, even if you later learn it was inadequate.
Knowing the extent of your injuries and other losses can take weeks or months. There is also uncertainty about when you might return to work and if you need restrictions. With these considerations, you must wait before accepting an offer. Review any offer with your Florida motorcycle accident lawyer, and never accept anything without professional advice.
How long until I settle?
The time it takes to settle a motorcycle crash claim will vary and is contingent on individual circumstances surrounding the collision. Some cases resolve within months, and others take much longer. The case value, parties involved, disputed facts, and injuries will all play a role in the case duration. Often, waiting longer is worth obtaining the full compensation you deserve. Work with your Florida motorcycle crash lawyer to weigh the benefits of settling sooner or later and ensure you do not rush the matter.
Suing after a crash
If you do not settle with the other party for your injuries and losses, you have the option to sue the negligent party for your losses. Whether you should pursue this option depends on your circumstances and injuries. You will typically have four years to file a lawsuit, which gives you time to assess your options with a legal professional and try to resolve the matter through other legal actions.
Speak with a local motorcycle accident lawyer
Most motorcyclists drive safely and follow all traffic laws. Sadly, many people still have a bias against riders that can lead them to blame the biker for a crash. Do not let drivers accuse you of lane splitting or other negligence to lower your compensation. Instead, work with motorcycle accident lawyer who knows the law and can protect your rights. Get your initial consultation from Gainesville personal injury lawyer today to discuss your options.