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Lane splitting allows motorcycles, scooters, and other small vehicles to ride between lanes during slow traffic. It is a common practice in Europe where French and Italian drivers are more than accustomed to smaller vehicles passing them on the center lines.
However, this practice is not legal in Maryland. Most American drivers are not accustomed to lane splitting so if you take a chance and lane-split anyway, you risk an accident. Here is what you need to know about lane splitting and the effect it will have on your accident claim if you are injured while attempting it.
In Maryland, motorcycles are allowed the full use of a lane, just like larger motorized vehicles. They may even ride two abreast, a practice known as lane sharing. (There are states that do not allow lane sharing or lane splitting, so it is a good idea to check the laws before you and a friend take that multi-state road trip on your matching Harley-Davidsons.)
However, the only state where lane splitting is legal is California. Nevada nearly succeeded in legalizing it and Oregon is looking into similar legislation. But here on the East Coast, it appears lane splitting will not be considered for legalization anytime soon.
Lane splitting has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. There are well-documented studies that point out both sides.
A recent study from UC Berkeley indicates that lane splitting is safer for motorcycles and scooters. It reduces the incident of motorcycles causing rear-end collisions since sudden stops can place riders in danger. There are also fewer incidents in California of cars rear-ending motorcycles which decreases the rate of catastrophic injuries, including head trauma.
There is also a positive impact on congestion. Since lane splitting removes scooters and motorcycles from the regular traffic flow, it reduces congestion and gives smaller vehicles a larger buffer zone from cars and trucks.
However, this study concedes that the benefits are only present if traffic is moving at 50 mph or less and motorcycles do not exceed 15 mph. Other studies reveal that motorcyclists frequently drive too fast while lane splitting and common injuries arise from hitting side mirrors. Injuries may range from mild scratches to traumatic brain injuries after an impact causes the motorcycle to tumble and ricochet through traffic.
There are also visibility issues. As stated earlier, Americans are not accustomed to watching for motorcycles on the center lane. This is less of an issue with slow traffic, but if a rider is using lane splitting as a way to pass quickly, the chance of an accident increases. Also, on city streets, motorcyclists and scooter riders risk colliding with open vehicle doors, vehicles making a turn or being invisible to large trucks and vehicles making sudden lane changes.
Unfortunately, while lane splitting has advantages, your chances of an accident while doing it are fairly high. That often means injuries and insurance claims as even a low-impact accident can become serious when a motorcycle is involved.
Since lane splitting is illegal in Maryland, any accidents that occur while you do it will likely be presumed to be your fault. This is especially true if an officer reports to the scene and issues a ticket to you.
However, you may collect some damages if the other driver also behaved recklessly. For example, you may be waiting a light between lanes and a driver makes a sudden lane change. If that driver would have hit you even if you were in the lane properly, liability may be assigned primarily to that driver. For example, fault could be contributed 80 percent to that driver and 20 percent to you–allowing you to collect 80 percent of your allowed damages.
Even with that possibility, insurance companies will not give up easier. They want fault to lie with you entirely. Your settlement process will move slower than in more cut-and-dry cases as liability remains in dispute. It is much more likely that the opposing insurance company will take your claim to court rather than settle.
If you sustained injuries while lane splitting on your scooter or motorcycle, consult with a personal injury attorney before you admit fault or accept a settlement. DuBoff & Associates, Chtd. are trial lawyers who are dedicated to helping motorcycles receive compensation for accident injuries. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
Parts of Maryland and surrounding areas, including Washington, DC, are very walkable. It is easy for pedestrians and cyclists to get around the city, even commute to work, by walking, running, or riding their bikes. The walkability of these areas also makes it very appealing for people who enjoy outdoor fitness activities. This means that there is a lot of foot traffic on the City streets. Cyclists are abundant in the area as well and it isn’t unusual to see accidents involving cars and pedestrians or cyclists.
Accidents like this can be traumatic and the injuries can be quite dramatic and catastrophic. Filing an insurance claim can compound the difficulty and stress when the victim seeks compensation for damages or injury. Most states recognize these difficulties and maintain a “comparative fault” policy when a crash occurs. However, a handful of states, Maryland and DC included, have long maintained a “contributory negligence” policy. This has changed in DC for certain persons but not all. Maryland meanwhile has tried but not passed anything as of this legislative term through the Annapolis legislature.
In most states, comparative negligence is used when judging personal injury cases. lt looks at both the defendant and claimant, weighs the negligence of each, and bases the damages awarded on the percentage of the fault of each side. For instance, if the claimant was found to be 25 percent responsible for an accident, they would recover 75 percent of the damages they sought instead of 100 percent. In some states, if the court finds the claimant to be at least 50 percent at fault, they are not entitled to any damages.
In personal injury claims, contributory negligence refers to behavior or action of the plaintiff that contributed to the accident, thus causing the injury. The plaintiff could be partly responsible or wholly responsible for their injuries or damage. For instance, if a person was crossing against the light at an intersection and they were hit by a car, they would be at least partially responsible because they were crossing against the light. If the pedestrian was in a crosswalk their claim may survive if the defendant driver then ignored the danger or gunned his engine.
In the 2018 Maryland General Assembly session, Senate Bill 465 was presented, establishing comparative negligence in the state. This would have been a huge sea change from Maryland’s long standing strict contributory negligence policy and it has been met with outright resistance from insurance companies as well as local governments and defense attorneys. The logic presented in the bill is that contributory negligence policies inhibit recovery of the plaintiff whereas comparative fault allows the plaintiff to recover at least part of the damages if they are partially at fault. This allows them the opportunity to recover from the accident.
This would definitely help pedestrians and cyclists who are on Maryland streets like what is allowed in Washington DC now! That would allow recovery now barred from recovery by the prohibitive confines of contributory negligence policies. Victims would be able to move forward and get the medical treatment and lost income recovery they need; lt seems the tide is turning, and the bill was gaining traction. The legislative session is over until next year but we will be back next year to encourage a fairer treatment for victims of negligence. Only time will time.
For decades Washington, DC was among the few states that had pure contributory negligence policies, but in November 2016 that changed. With the passage of the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of comparative negligence policies were put in place. Specifically, the Act allows a plaintiff to recover damages if they are less than 50 percent at fault in an accident with a vehicle. This was welcome news for all pedestrians and cyclists in one of the most walkable cities in the country. The Act covers all non-motorized users which not only includes bicycles, but also skateboards and Segway’s. This law was passed by the City council signed by the Mayor and approved by the United States Congress.
The few states that still subscribe to the harsh contributory negligence policy are receiving a lot of pressure from cyclist groups and others to come in line with the 46 state majority (92%) and offer more protection to cyclists and pedestrians. Whether or not they will follow suit is something we will just have to wait and see.
If you have been injured in a bicycle or pedestrian accident, you need legal representation right now. The laws surrounding these types of accidents are very complex and you shouldn’t try to go it alone. You may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries and an experience, knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help you get it. Contact DuBoff & Associates today and get the representation that you deserve.
Your initial consultation is free, and we will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum that you deserve. Don’t wait to see if things will work themselves out, let us take your case so you can get back to living your life and healing. We are handling these new D.C. comparative negligence cases right now.
On February 10, 2001, District of Columbia resident, 57-year-old Barbara Joyner’s life changed forever. That day, the retired duty nurse was a passenger on a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) bus. As a result of her decision to take the bus that day, she became severely injured and her life was irrevocably changed. One might assume her injuries came as a result of a bus crash since according to a 2010 study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, there was an average of 63,000 buses involved in crashes from 199 to 2005. In these accidents, there were 14,000 that caused injuries to the passengers. The study also found inter-city buses to have a higher risk of accidents. Therefore, to assume Barbara’s injury was a result of a bus crash of some type makes sense. However, a bus accident was not in fact what lead to the victim’s injuries in this case.
Maryland is a strict state when it comes to juvenile curfew laws. Defined as any individual under 17 years of age, juveniles are not allowed out unsupervised beginning at 11:59 PM on Friday and Saturday nights, and ending at 5:00 AM. During the week, the curfew is even earlier at 10:00 PM. While there are a number of exceptions, juveniles who are found out after curfew time can be stopped by police, and their name, address, and contact information for their parents will be gathered. The juvenile will receive a written warning, and then the parents of the juvenile receive a written warning in the mail from the Chief of Police. If the juvenile is found breaking curfew a second time, the juvenile can be brought into custody and the parents will be contacted.
Riding a motorcycle can be a dangerous way to get around. In more than half of crashes involving a motorcycle and a vehicle, the rider is not at fault. But lack of blame doesn’t make crashes less hazardous for motorcyclists: 75 percent of crashes result in an injury or fatality for the rider.
One of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of serious injury or death on your motorcycle is to wear a sturdy helmet. If you crash, a DOT-compliant helmet can help minimize head trauma, possibly saving your life. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that motorcyclists wearing helmets had a lower likelihood of injuries to the head and face in a crash, and they were less likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury.
In Maryland, helmets aren’t just a suggestion for motorcycle riders; they’re the law.