While it is dangerous, motorcyclists in Missouri are permitted to split the lane with motor vehicles. You might have even been driving recently in Missouri and noticed a motorcyclist accelerating close to you and in the same lane, or weaving between lanes of cars stuck in traffic.
Lane-splitting is attractive because it often lets motorcyclists get to their destination faster. When accidents occur involving lane-splitting, however, motorcyclists and passenger vehicle drivers often have questions about fault or liability. The following are some important details to remember about lane-splitting motorcycle accidents in Missouri.
Is Lane-Splitting Legal in Missouri?
Missouri state law does not expressly prohibit lane-splitting. The activity, however, is still viewed as a dangerous driving pattern, and motorcyclists should do their best to avoid it. Some riders believe lane-splitting is safe due to the small size of their bikes, but in reality, many crashes occur each year due to lane-splitting. Because it is not against the law, motorcyclists who are injured while lane-splitting can still pursue legal action against negligent drivers. In these cases, however, the motorcyclist may face a more difficult time proving and demonstrating that the other driver was responsible for the crash.
Missouri’s Comparative Fault System
Based on how your crash occurred, the other party might present a defense that you are at least partially responsible for causing the crash and that your apportionment of fault should reduce the amount of compensation that you can now receive. This defense is referred to as the doctrine of comparative fault. For example, if a person is determined to be 20% responsible for causing a crash, that individual can still recover 80% of their damages from the other party.
Consequently, if a motorcyclist was lane-splitting, that rider might still be able to successfully argue that the other party in the crash was still fully (or partially) responsible for causing the accident. For example, even though a motorcyclist might have been lane-splitting at the time the crash occurred, the motorcyclist can still argue that a driver who was texting while driving was 100% at fault for the crash.
Factors that Influence Liability in Lane-Splitting Crashes
Liability in lane-splitting crashes is often a complex matter. Some of the factors that courts and juries will examine when deciding whether a motorcyclist is liable for a crash includes the following:
- How carefully (or carelessly) the motorcyclist was operating his or her motorcycle. While following the speed limit and adequately signaling often absolve a rider of liability, weaving suddenly and unpredictably between lanes or speeding are evidence that a motorcyclist was driving carelessly.
- The amount of experience that the motorcyclist has.
- Whether the motorcyclist has participated in any riding or safety classes.
Speak With an Experienced Missouri Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Missouri lane-splitting motorcycle crash caused by someone else, you likely feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what you can do to pursue compensation. Contact House Law LLC today to schedule a free case evaluation.