Lane-splitting refers to motorcyclists driving between the traffic lanes to pass slower-moving cars. This technique, while great for moving through congested areas quickly, is illegal in NYC. The relevant New York statute states, “No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”
NYC Lane Filtering, Lane Sharing, and Shoulder Surfing Laws
However, lane-splitting isn’t the only technique motorcyclists use to move through traffic quickly. Other techniques include:
- Lane filtering: Lane filtering is nearly identical to lane-splitting but entails driving around stopped cars to move to the front of an intersection.
- Shoulder surfing: Shoulder surfing is self-explanatory – it involves passing traffic via the road shoulder.
- Lane sharing: Lane sharing involves multiple motorcyclists driving in a cluster in the same lane.
Lane filtering and shoulder surfing, like lane-splitting, are illegal in NYC. If you’re stuck in traffic on a motorcycle, you must wait it out like the rest of the drivers on the road. Lane sharing is allowed in NYC, though, with a limit of two motorcyclists abreast per lane.
Motorcycle Use Laws
Additional motorcycle use laws in NYC include:
- You cannot drive a motorcycle while carrying a package that prevents you from keeping both hands on the handlebars.
- You cannot carry another person in a way that obstructs your view of the road.
- You cannot grab or cling to another car on the road while driving a motorcycle.
- You must always wear a helmet when driving a motorcycle.
Like lane-splitting rules, it’s best to always observe relevant motorcycle laws in NYC. Failing to comply could result in fines and brief jail sentences.
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Why Is Lane-Splitting Illegal in NYC?
NYC isn’t alone in outlawing lane-splitting. Nearly every state nationwide has banned this practice, deciding that the risks of lane-splitting outweigh the benefits.
Lane-splitting risks include:
- A driver not seeing or expecting a motorcyclist in the middle of the lane.
- A driver lane-changing into a motorcyclist who is in their blind spot.
- A driver lane-changing in front of a motorcyclist, causing an accident.
No-Fault Insurance and Motorcyclists in NYC
In NYC, most drivers must carry no-fault insurance via relevant laws. This insurance, also called personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, will cover your injuries after a car accident, regardless of fault. This law aims to reduce the occurrence of lawsuits and lower the burden on local courts. However, motorcyclists are exempt from this no-fault insurance law.
Remember that many motorcycle insurance policies, including mandatory liability insurance, will appear to have no-fault insurance (it will likely be called “personal injury protection” in your policy description). You just can’t access this type of insurance in the event of an accident if you are driving a motorcycle. There’s one advantage to this rule. Other drivers, who fall under the no-fault law, must prove they have a serious injury to file a claim against the responsible driver.
Motorcyclists, because they are exempt from no-fault regulations, are allowed to file a claim against a responsible driver even if their injuries don’t exactly meet the requirements of the No-Fault serious injury standards.
The New York Department of Financial Services describes this legal caveat: “If you are the operator or passenger of a motorcycle involved in an accident, you are excluded from No-Fault benefits (you may sue from first dollar loss).”
I Was Lane-Splitting Before My Motorcycle Accident. Can I Still Sue?
It depends on your case’s specifics. NYC adheres to a law known as comparative negligence. Under this law, the compensation you qualify for hinges on your degree of fault.
For example, say the court system determines you were 45% at fault for your motorcycle accident because you were lane-splitting before another car hit you. In this example, you would receive 55% of your initial settlement valuation. Therefore, a $100,000 potential settlement would be reduced to $55,000. Remember, lane-splitting or not, degrees of fault vary considerably from case to case.
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What do I Do After a Motorcycle Accident in NYC?
After a motorcycle accident in NYC, consider taking the following steps:
- Seek medical attention: If you suffered an injury, contact your doctor, and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. This way, you could receive a prompt diagnosis and secure verifiable documentation of your injuries.
- Gather evidence: If possible, gather evidence, including contact information for involved parties, proof of your post-accident expenses, and photographs and video from the crash scene.
- Do not communicate with insurers: Insurance companies exist to make a profit. They will try to reduce the compensation amount you receive. They may speak to you in a nice way, but they are always trying to figure out how to pay you as little as they can or nothing at all if possible. It is best to have your lawyer communicate with them.
- Consider hiring a lawyer: A motorcycle accident lawyer will review the details of your accident and build a legal strategy. They will advise you throughout the process and manage every aspect of your case.
Get Legal Help from a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in NYC
Were you lane-splitting before your motorcycle accident? Are you unsure if you qualify for compensation? Our team of NYC Personal injury lawyers at Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. offers a free case consultation so you can explore your legal options. During this initial meeting, we will discuss your goals and determine whether you have a case. You don’t need to manage the aftermath of a motorcycle accident alone. Call us today.