Missouri Law on Motorcycle Lane-Splitting
Motorcycles continue to grow in popularity throughout Missouri and the Midwest region. Bikers often note the liberating feeling from riding on a beautiful day on the open highway.
Unfortunately, in our experience representing individuals who are injured in motorcycle accidents, the same qualities that attract Missourians to motorcycles also expose riders to the risk of serious injury. Unlike the cars and trucks that are on the same roads, motorcycles provide riders with little protection from collisions, and their size and speed can lend themselves to being placed in dangerous positions and places that are not noticed or seen by other drivers until too late.
Lane-splitting is a dangerous activity where motorcycle riders "split" or ride the white lines between two lanes of traffic. Missouri law does not expressly ban lane-splitting, but it is a dangerous practice that should be avoided.
Nevertheless, the fact that it is not illegal under Missouri state law to lane-split on a motorcycle has caused some riders to ask whether they can still recover money from a motorcycle accident in Missouri if the accident occurred while they were line-splitting on a motorcycle.
As with many legal questions, the precise answer depends on the circumstances. But in general, it is possible to recover compensation for injuries suffered from a motorcycle crash, even if you were injured while lane-splitting.
Missouri Motorcycle Accidents With Lane-Splitting
Since lane-splitting is not illegal in Missouri, you are not prevented from filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit solely because you were injured while lane-splitting. However, the practice of lane-splitting is well-known to be unsafe. As a result, even if you are not precluded from pursuing a claim, the fact that you placed yourself in a relatively unsafe position will likely be taken into account by the other party, the insurance adjuster, and - if the case goes to trial - a jury.
Missouri's Comparative Fault System
Depending on the circumstances, the other party may assert a defense that you are at least partially at fault for causing the accident by placing yourself in harm's way, and this can have an impact on the amount you are entitled to recover under Missouri law.
This defense is known as the doctrine of comparative fault, and in Missouri, the successful use of this defense at trial can result in your recovery being reduced by the percentage of which you are found to be at fault. For instance, if you were found to be 90 percent at fault in causing the collision, you may still recover 10 percent of the damages at issue from the other driver.
However, even if you were lane-splitting, you also may be able to prove that the other driver was either entirely or mostly at fault for causing the collision. For instance, if the other driver was distracted (texting while driving), or impaired (under the use of alcohol or drugs), driving recklessly or speeding, or violating any other traffic laws when the collision occurred, you may successfully rebut their defense and establish that the other driver was negligent in causing the wreck.
By doing so, you would have the right to compensation for your damages, which may include property loss, past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement or permanent disability.
Safety Should Be A Motorcyclist's Top Priority
Missouri motorcyclists need to take every safety precaution to avoid injury on the road. Due to the dangerous conditions and lack of protection for bikers, 79% of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death, and there is a 37% increase in the likelihood of death if the rider is not wearing a helmet.
Most obvious, motorcyclists should wear safety equipment, like helmets. Missouri law requires all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet law. Not all states have such a law. For instance, Kansas has no helmet law. You should find and wear a helmet that is approved by the Department of Transportation. These helmets save hundreds of lives every year.
In addition to helmets, protective or leather outerwear can help mitigate injuries if a motorcyclist is thrown or falls from a motorcycle to the ground. Road rash is caused by the friction of your body with the asphalt. This can a serious injury even at relatively low speeds with painful recovery and lifelong scars.
Bikers should also drive defensively and take a proactive approach to ensure they are as visible to drivers of cars and trucks and not in a blind spot. Reflective tape or gear can help, especially at dusk or evening.
Lastly, motorcyclists should follow the traffic laws. Obeying traffic laws is smart for two reasons. It will reduce your risk of getting into a dangerous position or potential collision, and it also protects you from any legal liability. If you are involved in a motorcycle crash while lane-splitting, you may still be able to win your case and recover compensation for your damages and injuries if you can prove that you were following the law and are a safe, responsible motorcyclist.
Lane splitting may not be banned under Missouri law, but it should still be avoided because it dangerous and can put you at a higher risk of a motorcycle crash. Lane-splitting can also make it more difficult to recover damages on your behalf if you were injured.
Contact Our Kansas City Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident, you need to contact a personal injury attorney who has experience in motorcycle accidents. Our Kansas City motorcycle accident attorney can help you understand your rights to compensation and help you determine whether a lawsuit should be pursued.
Our legal team can review your individual case with a free, no-obligation consultation. Call our office at 816-203-0143 today.