Is Lane-Splitting Legal on a Motorcycle in Missouri?
Riding motorcycles is becoming an increasingly popular pastime in Missouri. St. Louis is regarded as a very motorcycle-friendly city, with good quality infrastructure and well-kept roads. Missouri also has relatively strict rules when it comes to two-wheelers. Motorcyclists must wear a protective helmet and shatterproof face protection, such as a full-face helmet, goggles, or a face shield.
The Missouri government insists that all motorcycle riders have insurance. Motorcycle owners are expected to keep their vehicles in good condition. Components such as wheels, tires, brakes, exhausts systems, and lights must be in working order. However, hand signals are legal, and turning indicators are not essential. Despite this, many motorcycle accidents end in serious injury, including death, as a bike offers no protection when a rider falls.
Lane-splitting is where motorcycle riders drive between two lanes of traffic that are facing the same direction. They drive along the dividing line to get ahead of other road users. It is commonly practiced in traffic or when cars are stopped at traffic lights.
While lane-splitting on a motorcycle isn’t illegal in Missouri, it is regarded as an unsafe practice that motorists should avoid.
Comparative Fault Laws
When it comes to accidents resulting from lane-splitting, it’s important to consider comparative fault laws in Missouri. These laws help to determine negligence in an accident.
For example, if a motorcyclist runs a red light due to distraction, resulting in the injury of another driver or pedestrian, they are negligible and therefore liable for any injuries caused. Motorists (including car and motorcycle drivers) have a duty to one another to abide by the rules of the road and are therefore responsible for any injuries caused.
In most road injury lawsuits, negligence is the primary focus. This is particularly true with motorcycle cases, as drivers of other vehicles often forget to check their blind spots for bikers, leading to accidents. To determine negligence in an injury case, the defendant’s action or inaction is compared to a reasonable person’s standard.
Missouri adopts the legal doctrine of comparative negligence. This means that a plaintiff who is in some way responsible for their own injuries may only collect compensation in proportion to the degree of fault of the defendant. Therefore, if a motorcyclist contributes to an accident in which they’re injured, they are only entitled to compensation for the injuries caused by another driver.
Although many variables are involved in a motorcycle injury case, the factors used to determine negligence are relatively standard. The determination process involves five key considerations:
- The defendant had a duty to act or refrain from acting based on the rules of the road.
- The defendant then breached this duty.
- This duty breach caused injury to the plaintiff.
- The defendant is aware that their action or inaction may have caused injuries.
- The plaintiff suffered genuine injury or incurred damages resulting from the accident (e.g., loss of income, hospital bills, etc.)
As lane-splitting isn’t strictly illegal in Missouri, you may file an injury claim or lawsuit if you’re injured while lane-splitting. However, lane-splitting is regarded as unsafe. Therefore, it may be challenging to make a successful claim without legal help from motorcycle accident attorneys. Due to comparative fault laws, the opposing party may establish a defense claiming you’re at least partially at fault, which can reduce the amount of compensation you recover.
It’s also critical to consider that there is often an unfair bias against motorcyclists in accident cases, making it even more challenging to recover compensation. These biases stem from preconceived notions about motorbikes and the people who ride them, including the idea that they are difficult to see, drive too quickly, and are operated by reckless drivers. This can mean an injured biker must fight against false assumptions when seeking compensation, in addition to proving fault.
If you can prove another driver was entirely or mostly at fault during a lane-splitting accident, you may be able to recover significant compensation. For example, if the driver was using their phone, acted recklessly, or violated other traffic laws, they may be deemed negligent.
Contact Experienced Accident Attorneys
Since lane-splitting on a motorcycle is considered dangerous, it can be challenging to recover compensation from an accident that results from this practice, especially since motorcyclists regularly face unfair bias in vehicle accident cases. A skilled motorcycle lawyer at Cofman Townsley can help you gain the maximum compensation for your injuries.
If you’ve suffered due to an accident while lane-splitting, ensure you take appropriate legal action immediately. For more information on your legal rights or to schedule your free consultation, contact our law firm.