Is Lane-Splitting in Florida Legal?
Lane-splitting refers to a motorcycle-operator maneuver that involves driving the bike between two lanes of slower-moving or stopped vehicles. In some states, such as California, the operation is legal as it serves to keep traffic moving. However, in Florida, lane-splitting is illegal, and if a motorcyclist causes an accident because he or she is trying to get around traffic by performing this illegal maneuver, he or she can be held liable for damages and injuries caused. This is important to bear in mind if you were involved in a motorcycle accident in Florida.
Why It Is Important to Understand Comparative Fault in These Cases
Florida is a comparative fault state, meaning that an accident victim’s recovery will be reduced by the amount of fault that is assigned to him or her. In motorcycle-passenger vehicle lane-splitting accidents, the motorcyclist is likely to sustain more serious and costly injuries, while the passenger vehicle is likely to acquire nothing but a dent. If the motorcyclist’s auto coverage and personal injury protection policy is not enough to cover the cost of damages, he or she may try to pursue additional compensation from the driver of the passenger vehicle and/or his or her insurance company. If the motorcycle operator goes this route, whether or not the driver of the passenger vehicle should foot the bill comes down to who was more at fault: the motorcyclist or the driver?
If you were involved in a lane-splitting accident, the opposing parties will review your conduct as well as the motorcycle operator’s. Were you talking on the phone at the time of the accident? Did you fail to use your blinker before changing lanes? Did you change lanes on a section of road where changing lanes is forbidden? If the motorcyclist and his or her insurer can prove that you were more careless than the motorcycle operator, you may be held liable for damages. However, the amount of damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the biker.
On the other hand, if you and your insurer can prove that the motorcyclist was more careless than you—as in, that he or she shared at least 50 percent of responsibility for the accident—then he or she will not be able to recover compensation at all.
Because motorcyclists often sustain much more serious damages and injuries in car accidents, it can be easy to assume that the driver of the passenger vehicle should be held liable for damages. However, the law is not designed to award the most injured party damages, but rather, the more innocent party. If you were involved in a motorcycle/car accident caused by lane-splitting, you may feel as if the whole incident was your fault, but know that it probably was not. Unless you too broke the law in some way, the majority of liability is likely to rest with the biker.
Contact Barbas, Nuñez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian Today
If you were involved in a car accident caused by a motorcyclist who was splitting lanes, and if you were contacted regarding a motorcycle accident claim, contact our Tampa car accident law firm today for the help you need to set the record straight. Call Barbas, Nuñez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian today to get started.