Lane Splitting Accidents

Tulsa Lane Splitting Accidents

In Tulsa, lane splitting accidents involving motorcycles often leave the rider with critical and life-threatening injuries. Many motorists do not actively look for motorcycles. Due to their small size compared to passenger cars and trucks, motorcycles are easy to overlook or hide in a blind spot.

What is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting is when motorcycles ride between two lanes of traffic going in the same direction. Generally, motorcycle riders will split the lanes if traffic is moving slowly or has come to a stop. Lane splitting is also known as “whitelining” and “stripe-riding.”

Lane splitting is controversial. Many supporters of lane splitting argue that it is safer for the rider. Rear-end motorcycle accidents are often deadly for a biker. Since they lack the protection of motor vehicles, heavy traffic congestion poses a unique threat and increases the risk of a motorcyclist being crushed in a rear-end accident.

Opponents point out that lane-splitting can be equally as dangerous as a rear-end accident. Bikers can side-swipe a car mirror and lose control. In addition, cars and trucks tend to change lanes quickly whether the traffic is heavy or light. A stopped motorist may open a car door to pour out a beverage. Unsuspecting motorcycle riders could run into an open vehicle door or a turning car.

Many motorcycle riders travel 15 mph faster than traffic or more while lane splitting. Even motorists who check for bikers may not see one that is fast approaching. If a driver turns into a motorcyclist or a rider hits a car changing lanes, the consequences are severe.

Is Lane Splitting Legal in Oklahoma?

Lane splitting is not legal in Oklahoma. Currently, lane splitting is legal in California, Connecticut, Utah, Arizona, and Montana. Most states prohibit lane splitting, including South Carolina and Georgia. Other states have no lane splitting laws on the books.

Due to studies showing the safety and other benefits of lane splitting, legislation has been proposed in a number of other states. Currently, Washington and Virginia are considering allowing motorcycle riders full use of the lanes. Oregon proposed legalizing lane splitting recently, though it was vetoed by the governor.

Oklahoma proposed similar legislation to legalize lane splitting. The “lane filtering” bill is currently advancing through the legislative process.

Can a Motorcycle Rider Still File a Personal Injury Claim if They Were Illegally Lane Splitting?

If a motorcyclist fails to follow traffic laws and is injured in a lane splitting accident, they may still be entitled to recover damages and file an injury claim.

Liability in a lane splitting accident is not automatically assigned. If a motorist acts negligently and causes the accident, a biker can still file a personal injury claim. However, engaging in lane splitting can affect the value of an injury claim.

An insurance company or court may find that a motorcyclist is partially responsible for a lane splitting accident. While a rider may not be able to recover the full value of their claim, under Oklahoma’s comparative negligence law, they may be entitled to partial damages.

How Does Comparative Negligence Affect Personal Injury Claims?

Comparative negligence is a doctrine that allows multiple parties to share liability in a motor vehicle accident. Under a modified comparative fault system, responsibility in a collision is reflected as a percentage.

For example, if a motorist turns into a rider without looking, they may be found 90% responsible for the accident. The motorcyclist may be found 10% at fault. If a person or entity is found to be less than 50% responsible for a traffic collision, they are entitled to recover damages minus their share of liability.

Common Injuries Sustained in Lane Splitting Accidents

Lane splitting accidents injure motorcyclists disproportionately to motorists. Cars and trucks serve to protect drivers and passengers from a significant amount of damage in a collision with a motorcycle.

Bikers, on the other hand, are exposed to the elements. A helmet and leather jacket are typically all that a motorcyclist has to protect them from serious injuries in a lane splitting crash.

In addition, motorcycle riders suffer multiple impacts compared to motorists. In a lane splitting car crash, vehicles usually only experience one hit when striking a motorcycle. Bikers experience two impacts, the initial hit from the car and the force from striking the ground. In many cases, a motorcyclist may be knocked into other vehicles, street signs, or other objects before landing on the ground.

The most common injuries motorcycle riders suffer in a lane splitting accident include:

  • Bone injures: Bikers often break or fracture their bones during a collision. In some cases, broken pelvis and upper leg bones must be set with pins and rods in surgery. Severe fractures can lead to infections. Bones are also dislocated on impact.
  • Head injuries: Even with a helmet, motorcyclists can sustain serious and critical head injuries. Deep lacerations are common. Fractured skulls are often an indication of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). TBIs are especially dangerous after a lane splitting accident. A TBI can lead to permanent brain damage or death. Some TBIs present with delayed symptoms. It is important for bikers to have their heads looked over by an emergency room doctor following a collision.
  • Back and neck injuries: The spinal cord is a very delicate system of bones and nerves. Bikers can become partially or permanently paralyzed from a spinal cord injury. Even minor motorcycle accidents can lead to severe neck injuries. A neck sprain, otherwise known as “whiplash,” can be excruciating for weeks while in recovery.
What You Should Do After an Oklahoma Lane Splitting Accident

Motorcycle accidents are terrifying. Riders are often thrown from their bikes onto the road. In many cases, motorcyclists skid along the pavement, sustaining severe road rash.

Lane splitting accidents are especially hazardous. Thrown motorcyclists are hurled into traffic, hitting other vehicles and objects until finally landing on the ground. If other cars are not careful, they can easily run over a fallen biker.

After a lane splitting crash, it is imperative that a motorcyclist gets to safety if conscious and able. To best protect themselves and their right to file an injury claim, following the proper steps after a collision is critical.

Never Remove Safety Gear

Once safely off the road, all motorcycle injury victims should keep all their safety gear and clothes in place. Removing a helmet could worsen any head or neck injuries. In addition, a common complication of road rash is infection. Removing a jacket or other protective gear before the paramedics arrive can allow more debris to enter the wounds.

Contact Emergency Services

Call emergency personnel or allow a bystander to contact law enforcement and medical services. Even if the lane splitting accident is minor, a police report is needed to file an injury claim. In addition, it is important that medical treatment is sought immediately. If a motorcyclist declines medical services at the scene only to discover delayed injury a few days later, a personal injury claim is likely to be denied. To support the legitimacy of a claim, it is imperative to seek medical attention immediately following the lane splitting accident.

Move Motorcycle Off the Road and Away from Traffic

If able, motorcyclists should move their bikes off the road. Unattended motorcycles are extremely hazardous on the road. Bikes turned over on the street are very small and difficult for motorists to see. If a motorcycle is left in traffic and causes an additional collision, the rider can be held liable.

Gather Critical Evidence

Motor vehicle crashes are rarely simple. There are many variables that can affect fault in an accident. Motorcyclists are at a disadvantage in a lane splitting accident. Since lane splitting is currently illegal in Oklahoma, without sufficient evidence supporting another driver’s negligence, a rider may be blamed for the motorcycle crash.

To protect the right to recover compensation for injuries and property damage, it is critical to collect as much evidence as possible, including:

  • Pictures of the motorcycle from different angles
  • Photos of the scene from different angles, making sure to include debris, streetlights, and signs
  • Police report
  • Pictures of other cars involved in the collision from varying angles
  • Close up images of the damage to other motor vehicles and property
  • Witness statements and contact information
  • Photographs of injuries and the healing process
  • Medical records and doctor statements

Gather evidence at the site of the crash and maintain evidence records throughout the claims process, taking special note of injuries, treatment, and recovery.

Collect Information from Those Involved in the Lane Splitting Accident

Exchange information with other motorists or motorcycle riders involved in the crash. Take pictures of ID cards, license plates, and insurance information.
During the exchange, it is also imperative that motorcycle riders refrain from discussing the accident. No matter how innocent, any statement may be used by the insurance company to deny an injury claim. Most importantly, bikers should never apologize or use the word “sorry” during any exchange with the other motorists or law enforcement.

At Graves McLain, a personal injury attorney can assist lane splitting motorcycle accident victims with the claims process. Schedule a free consultation with a motorcycle accident attorney today by calling (918) 359-6600.

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