Florida is one of just a few locations within the US where the weather is perfect for motorcycle riding throughout the year. The long riding season is perhaps why the state ranks high for accidents. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), there are around 9,000 motorcycle accidents every year. More than 23% occur in South Florida, leading to dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injured victims. Various causes and factors contribute to these collisions, including speeding, failure to yield, and other forms of driver negligence.
However, motorcyclists are required to abide by the same traffic laws as other motorists, so they can also be at fault in crashes. One maneuver used by some riders is the subject of some controversy — lane splitting. This practice is illegal in Florida, which is why it could affect your rights if you were hurt. A Miami motorcycle accidents lawyer can explain the details, but an overview is helpful.
Florida Traffic Rules on Motorcycle Operation
Motorcycle riders in Miami and throughout South Florida often split lanes when traffic has slowed or stopped, so they can easily move through heavy congestion. State law prohibits this practice, which is specifically defined as:
- Overtaking in the same lane as the vehicle you are passing; or,
- Operating a motorcycle between or adjacent to rows of vehicles.
The statute provides that police can issue a citation for a violation, but lane splitting is akin to speeding in some ways — people will skirt the law in certain traffic situations, hoping they do not get caught or willing to accept the consequences if they do.
Why Lane Splitting Matters in Motorcycle Collision Claims
Regardless of whether you accept the risk of a traffic ticket, you should understand how splitting lanes affects your rights in a motorcycle accident. In general, these cases are based upon negligence. To recover compensation, you must prove that you were hurt as the direct result of another motorist’s unsafe driving. In a successful claim, you can recover amounts for your medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
However, the at-fault driver’s conduct is just half the story. Under Florida personal injury laws, an injured victim also has the duty to exercise reasonable care. Part of this duty is following traffic laws that aim at safety, including the ban on lane splitting. If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident while driving in between cars, the statute on comparative fault may apply. Your compensation could be reduced by the amount of liability assigned to your own actions, on a percentage basis.
Our Miami Motorcycle Accidents Attorneys are Prepared for Challenges
For more information on lane splitting and how it impacts your rights, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA. We can schedule a free consultation with a motorcycle crash lawyer who can advise you on the details. You can reach our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, FL by calling (305) 371-6000 or Toll Free at (877) 475-2905.