Get a Free Case Review -  Call Now (803) 471-4188

What to Do if “Lane Splitting” Caused an Accident in South Carolina

Lane splitting is common among motorcycle riders and involves driving between lanes of traffic. If you are in an accident caused by a lane-splitting rider, talk to a lawyer about how to recover damages.

Lane splitting often involves motorcycle riders traveling between lanes moving in the same direction, often on the white or yellow lines between lanes. In South Carolina, this kind of lane splitting is explicitly illegal. Motorcycle riders who practice lane splitting might cause accidents when drivers try to turn or change lanes, but a motorcycle is in their blind spot or right next to the car. Since lane splitting is illegal, the motorcycle riders involved in these accidents are often held liable. If you are involved in such an accident, call for help and speak to a lawyer as soon as you can.

Contact our Columbia, SC car accident attorneys at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers by calling (803) 451-4000 and make arrangements for a free, private case review to get started.

Is Lane Splitting Legal in South Carolina?

What exactly is lane splitting? Lane splitting occurs when motorcycle riders drive between traffic lanes going in the same direction. Often, they ride on the dotted white lines between lanes when traffic is slow or congested. On the one hand, it is relatively easy for motorcycles to maneuver between lanes like this because of their size. On the other hand, it can be risky, and accidents have been known to occur. If you were hurt in an accident caused by lane splitting, our South Carolina car accident lawyers can help you obtain fair compensation.

In South Carolina, lane splitting, as described above, is illegal under S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-3640. Motorcycle riders are not permitted to ride between lanes of traffic under any circumstances. This can be confusing for some, as not all states outlaw lane splitting. In fact, some states recognize lane splitting as a way to alleviate congested traffic. Remember, lane splitting in South Carolina is illegal.

However, there is another type of lane splitting that is not illegal and is specifically mentioned in the above statute as a perfectly fine way to drive. This form of lane splitting involves motorcycles riding side-by-side in the same lane. This form of lane splitting is legal. No more than two motorcycles can ride abreast in a single lane. Three or more motorcycles riding alongside each other is not permitted.

How Lane Splitting Might Cause an Accident in South Carolina

When motorcycles drive between lanes of traffic, they can cause serious accidents. One particularly serious issue is motorcycles operating in other people’s blind spots. If you drive a car, you know that not everything around you is visible from the driver’s seat. There are certain areas around your car that you cannot see. While mirrors can help, accidents are still possible. When motorcycles are riding between lanes, they might be caught in other driver’s blind spots.

Another big problem with lane splitting is that it interferes with other drivers turning or changing lanes. Drivers often do not expect motorcycles to be between lanes. When drivers try to make a turn, they might hit motorcycle riders. The same goes for when drivers try to switch lanes.

Motorcycles tend to travel faster than the vehicles around them when riding between lanes. This is common when motorcycle riders ride between lanes during heavy traffic congestion. Motorcycle riders often drive too fast, lose control of their bikes, and crash into other vehicles. Since lane splitting puts motorcycles very close to other cars, these accidents can be quite serious.

Who is Liable for Lane Splitting Accidents in South Carolina?

When accidents happen because of lane splitting, the motorcycle rider or riders who were driving between lanes will likely be held liable. Lane splitting is explicitly illegal and a violation of the traffic code. As such, any accident caused by lane splitting will probably be pinned on the negligent motorcycle riders.

The defendant might try to argue contributory negligence, meaning they believe you did something that somehow contributed to the crash. This is a common tactic used to shift blame. While plaintiffs might have done something negligent (e.g., turning without signaling before they hit the motorcycle rider), at the end of the day, we can help argue that most of the blame falls on the shoulder of the motorcycle rider. The fact that they were negligently riding between lanes of heavy traffic is likely the main causational factor of the accident.

While various factors might have influenced the accident, we must show that it likely would not have happened had it not been for the defendant’s lane splitting. As such, they should bear most or all of the responsibility and pay for your damages.

What to Do if Your Think Lane Splitting Caused Your Accident

Suppose you were injured in an accident and believe a negligent motorcycle rider caused it by riding between lanes of traffic. In that case, there are steps you can take to get help, protect your rights, and hopefully get fair compensation for your damages. A lawyer can help you get your case started.

Your very first step is to call for help. Make sure both the police and emergency medical responders are sent to the scene. Even if you do not feel badly injured, you should be examined by emergency medical personnel. The police will likely take statements from the people at the scene and begin drafting an accident report you and your lawyer can obtain later.

Once you have gotten medical treatment, call a lawyer. Explain that you were hurt in a car accident and that a motorcycle rider between lanes caused it. The sooner you can speak to a lawyer, the sooner they can get started on your case. Beginning as quickly as possible is crucial as important evidence and witnesses might be lost if we wait too long.

Call Our South Carolina Car Accident Attorneys for Help

Contact our Sumter, SC car accident lawyers at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers by calling (803) 451-4000 and make arrangements for a free, confidential case review to get started.