Is Lane-Splitting Legal on a Motorcycle in New York?

Motorcyclists experience a thrill on the road that is unknown to drivers of cars and other large vehicles. There’s a sense of freedom and power that comes from operating a motorcycle.

However, riding a motorcycle in traffic can put the rider at risk of serious injury. Motorcycles lack the protective armor that a car provides. Even when following all the rules of the road and using proper safety equipment, accidents can have lasting consequences for motorcyclists.

Motorcycles are also hard for passenger vehicles to see. In congested traffic situations, drivers may be so focused on getting to the next open space that they fail to notice a motorcyclist is actually occupying it.

Alternatively, motorcyclists can put themselves at risk by using a maneuver commonly known as lane-splitting. Taking advantage of the small footprint of their bike, motorcyclists ride between lanes of traffic, along the painted line separating lanes. This helps them continue to move through traffic during times of traffic congestion.

Illegal in New York

Motorcyclists have full and legal use of their lane in New York. However, there is a specific state Statute that makes lane-splitting illegal. When operating a motorcycle in New York, you cannot move your bike between adjacent lines, rows, or lanes of vehicles.

This Statute is under debate because the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) suggests lane-splitting improves safety. When using a motorcycle in congested traffic, lane-splitting protects the motorcyclist from being rear-ended and suffering significant injury as a result. The MSF believes that the safety advantages outweigh the risks when lane splitting is done consistently and correctly.

Lane-splitting is different from lane sharing. Lane sharing is when two motorcycles ride side by side in the same traffic lane. This is not illegal in New York.

Accident Liability in New York

If you have been in a lane-splitting accident, it’s critical to determine who is at fault for the crash. New York State law allows you to seek compensation for your injuries and damages even if you are 99% at fault.

More than one person can be held liable for any crash in New York. If road conditions or faulty equipment contributed to your accident, the government responsible for maintaining the road or manufacturer of the equipment could potentially be held liable. Other drivers involved in your accident can be held accountable if they were texting or otherwise distracted or negligent.

All the contributing factors for your accident need to be investigated and documented. This evidence helps determine who can be held liable for any damages sustained during an accident. Turning to the experienced New York motorcycle accident attorneys at Catalano Law can help build your case.

Motorcyclists Lack Personal Injury Protection

All motor vehicles in New York are required to have personal injury protection insurance. This is also known as no-fault insurance. When you are in an accident, your PIP (personal injury protection) coverage will pay for certain damages like medical costs and lost income. However, motorcycles aren’t, by legal definition, considered motor vehicles in New York.

If you are injured when riding a motorcycle, you will not have any PIP coverage to help cover your personal damages. Your liability insurance will only cover others injured in the accident. This can cause significant financial hardship for motorcyclists after an accident. The law compensates for this by lowering the threshold for personal injury cases. If you are injured, you won’t have to pass the serious injury threshold before filing a personal injury claim.

Lane-Splitting Complications

Accidents involving lane-splitting on a motorcycle can get complicated. Since lane splitting is illegal in New York, most insurance companies will attempt to find the motorcyclist the sole cause of the accident. If you have been involved in a lane-splitting accident, you should contact a motorcycle accident lawyer right away.

A lawyer can prevent you from being unfairly discriminated against simply because you were riding a motorcycle. Your attorney will work to prove that you weren’t at fault for your accident or reduce your assigned degree of fault. When the opposition is working against you, it’s vital to have an experienced legal advocate in your corner.

Discuss Your Case with a New York Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today

Don’t try to face the aftermath of a motorcycle accident alone. The knowledgeable lawyers at Catalano Law are ready to support you through this difficult time. With years of experience representing motorcycle accident victims, our attorneys can quickly assess your case and begin gathering critical evidence. We won’t let you be mistreated due to the bias others have against motorcyclists. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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