In Arizona, and elsewhere, motorcyclists sometimes attempt to split lanes in an effort to cut through traffic and avoid the gridlock. This is perfectly natural, of course — many motorcyclists see lane splitting as a maneuver that is meant to take advantage of the unique dimensions of a two-wheeled vehicle. Motorcyclists (like most others on the road) tend to also see themselves as exemplary operators and may therefore find any restriction on lane splitting to be questionable.
In reality, however, lane splitting can expose both motorcyclists and others to a significant risk of injury. It should come as no surprise that Arizona and most other states have regulated lane splitting in an effort to minimize the occurrence of motorcycle accidents (and the injury claims that may result from such behaviors). As per section 28-903 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, the state imposes a complete ban on motorcycle lane splitting.
How does this effect damage recovery in a motorcycle accident? Let’s take a look.
Recovering Damages in a Lane Splitting Accident
Given that lane splitting is banned in Arizona by statute, if you are involved in an accident while you are splitting a lane (i.e., riding between two lanes of traffic or between adjacent rows of vehicles), then you will be found negligent per se.
Importantly, however, the fact that you are negligent for violating the lane splitting prohibition is not — in and of itself — enough to prevent you from successfully recovering damages in an accident. Arizona implements the pure comparative fault doctrine, which allows injured plaintiffs to recover damages even if they acted negligently and thus contributed to their own injuries. The total damages will simply be reduced in proportion to their own fault contribution.
For example, if you are found 50 percent at-fault in a lane splitting accident where the damages total $100,000, then you would be entitled to recover $50,000.
The fundamental question in a lane splitting accident, then, is whether the defendant is responsible — even partially — for your injuries. The defendant is still required to exercise reasonable care given the circumstances. For example, if the defendant can see that you are lane splitting (despite it being against the law in Arizona), then they must act accordingly and avoid blocking your path. If they do so, then it’s likely that a court would find the defendant negligent, and therefore liable.
Contact Our Experienced Phoenix Motorcycle Accident Attorneys for Guidance
If you have suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident — whether or not you were lane splitting at the time of the accident — then Arizona law may give you a right of action against the defendant for damages. Motorcycle accident litigation can be quite challenging in situations where there are lingering concerns over the injured motorcyclist’s own contribution to the accident, however.
Here at Hirsch & Lyon, our attorneys have more than 65 years of combined experience representing injury victims in a range of auto accident disputes, including motorcycle accidents.
Interested in speaking to an attorney directly? Call 602-535-1900 or submit an online claim form through our website to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our seasoned Phoenix motorcycle accident attorneys.