Is Lane-Splitting Illegal in Illinois?

When traffic backs up, some motorcycle riders straddle two lanes to move through the back-up. Lane-splitting is legal in a few states, most notably California. Illinois law does not specifically allow the practice, but it does not specifically prohibit it either. However, 625 ILCS 5/11-703 contains a number of right-of-way and other prohibitions which basically prohibit lane splitting.

Significantly, there is a difference between lane-splitting and lane-sharing. Lane-splitting is moving through traffic to avoid a back up. Lane-sharing is riding side by side in the same lane. Many confuse these two things, especially if one rider straddle the lane dividing line.

Given all this confusion, if you were hurt in a motorcycle crash, it is always a good idea to contact a Chicago motorcycle accident attorney. Otherwise, you may lose important rights.

Motorcyclist lane-splitting on city road

How Lane-Splitting Affects Your Case

Any moving violation usually triggers the contributory negligence defense. If the victim received a traffic ticket, it is easier for the insurance company to shift blame for the crash from the negligent driver to the victim. The motorcycle prejudice sometimes comes into play here as well. Many emergency responders assume that motorcycle riders are reckless by nature. Many jurors assume the same thing.

Commonly, a motorcycle rider is lane-splitting and a negligent driver changes lanes without yielding the right-of-way to the oncoming motorcycle. In situations like these, an personal injury attorney has two chances to debunk the contributory negligence defense.

First, the insurance company must convince the judge that the victim’s lane-splitting significantly contributed to the crash. Most motorcycle riders operate very slowly and carefully when they lane split, so the negligent driver should have seen the rider. Next, the insurance company must convince the jury of the same thing. Then, based on the evidence, the jury must divide fault between the victim and negligent driver.

Illinois is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if the jury says the victim was 49 percent responsible for the crash, the victim still receives a proportional share of damages.

What to Do After a Lane-Splitting Motorcycle Crash

Since there is so much uncertainty in this area of law, the police accident report is often complex. Even the most experienced first responder is not an accident reconstruction engineer. Furthermore, if the motorcycle crash victim was seriously injured or killed, the police report only contains one side of the story.

So, regardless of the police report’s conclusions, it is always important to reach out to an attorney after a serious crash. An attorney can properly evaluate the law and the facts.

Do Not Apologize

There are some things that victims can do on their own. For example, never apologize to the other driver. Many times, saying “I’m sorry” expresses sympathy. But in this context, an apology could be construed as an admission of liability. So, it’s better to not say anything.

Keep Conversation Short with the Insurance Company

For the same reason, do not talk to the other driver’s insurance company. Telephone adjusters know how to extract damaging information from victims when they are still disoriented and not thinking clearly. These admissions can hurt your claim for damages.

Visit a Doctor

Finally, always see a doctor after the crash, even if you do not feel hurt. If finances are an issue, an attorney can usually convince doctors to defer billing until the claim is resolved. So, victims pay nothing upfront for the medical treatment they need.

Reach Out to Experienced Lawyers

Illegal or quasi-legal driving activities, like lane-splitting, often affect damage claims. For a free consultation with an experienced accident attorney in Chicago, contact Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates. Home and hospital visits are available.