Lane-splitting – or the act of a motorcyclist riding the dotted lines between lanes of traffic on a street or highway – is not specifically prohibited by statute in New Jersey, nor is it specifically allowed either. That said, the New Jersey state driver’s manual implies that it is not allowed, and New Jersey law enforcement can cite motorcyclists for failing to stay in a lane.
At the same time, however, many motorcycle advocacy groups point out how lane-splitting can protect the safety of motorcyclists who are worried about being rear-ended by careless drivers, and can even promote traffic efficiency by not taking up a full space in a lane.
Lane-splitting of course does not fully prevent motorcycle accidents from occurring, especially where a careless driver swerves across lanes without noticing the motorcyclist. When such an accident occurs, the driver and/or his insurance company (or attorney) may try to argue that the motorcyclist cannot recover in a New Jersey motorcycle accident personal injury lawsuit, but this is not necessarily the case.
Why Lane-Splitting May Not Bar Your New Jersey Motorcycle Accident Recovery
When a motorcycle accident collision occurs with a car or truck, there are generally three possibilities for why it occurred:
- It was the fault of the driver
- It was the fault of the motorcyclist
- It was the fault of both the driver and the motorcyclist
“Fault” here means that there was a careless and/or unlawful action taken which led to the collision. This could include drunk driving, changing lanes without a turn signal, speeding, swerving, texting while driving, and other traffic violations. Again, whether or not lane-splitting is necessarily going to be considered careless is somewhat vague in New Jersey.
But let’s assume for a moment that it is determined that lane-splitting is careless, such that the collision was at least partly the fault of the motorcycle. If the driver was also careless in causing the accident – such as by not using a turn signal or failing to notice the motorcyclist – then both the motorcyclist and the driver could be considered at fault.
In such shared-fault cases, New Jersey employs what is called “modified comparative negligence” to determine whether a motorcyclist can recover, and for how much of his injuries. Under this rule, the motorcyclist can still recover in a personal injury lawsuit so long as his fault was not greater than that of the driver who also played a part in causing the accident.
That said, the motorcyclist’s recovery will be reduced by his portion of fault. Thus, if a motorcyclist suffers $100,000 in injuries (based on calculation of medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering), but it is determined he was 30% at fault, then he can recover $70,000.
Obviously, determining who was at fault and by what percentage in a split-second motorcycle accident can be quite complex, and, thus, if you are injured in a New Jersey motorcycle accident, you are encouraged to reach out to a New Jersey personal injury attorney as soon as possible to begin the process of investigating the matter and building your best case for recovery.
Call a New Jersey / New York Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
The experienced personal injury attorneys at SK Law have won over millions in compensation for our clients, and we are here to stand by your side as your allies and champions in winning the recovery you deserve from all potential defendants. Contact us today to speak to a personal injury attorney about your motorcycle accident.