Who Is at Fault in a Lane-Splitting Accident in Virginia?

Jul 13, 2021 | Auto Accidents


Rather than sit in traffic, motorcycle riders straddle the dotted lines between the lanes on multi-lane roads. This is known as lane-splitting. A legislative measure to legalize lane-splitting, a practice also known as lane filtering, died in committee in 2020. So, as of Summer 2021, lane-splitting is illegal in Virginia. Therefore, if a lane-splitting motorcycle rider is involved in an accident, insurance adjusters may assign fault to the rider.


However, the negligence per se rule usually does not apply in these cases. Sometimes, lane-splitting riders veer into vehicles. Much more commonly, the vehicles veer into the riders. If the other driver caused the crash, even if this driver properly signaled the lane change, a Richmond personal injury lawyer might be able to obtain compensation in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.


Motorcycle Wreck Injuries

During collisions, four-wheel vehicle occupants have steel cages and multiple restraint layers to protect them from serious injury. But motorcyclists have no such protection. So, riders are twenty-nine times more likely to die in these wrecks. 


Spine injuries are among the most catastrophic, and most common, motorcycle crash victim injuries. The motion of a crash and/or the trauma impact could cause a back injury.


The spine is not a single bone. Instead, the spine is made up of thirty-three small bones (vertebrae) which are connected by fluid joints (facets). Any sudden, jarring movement could knock the spine out of alignment. Once that happens, the vertebrae often pinch the nerve, causing intense pain. Procedures are typically very expensive.


The same violent, jarring motion could cause a head injury as well. That motion causes the brain to repeatedly slam against the inside of the skull.


Some motorcycle riders wear helmets to protect their heads. But no one wears a back brace or other device to protect the spine. Therefore, a hard landing could cause a bone bruise at best or a bone fracture at worst. Either injury could cause paralysis.


Motorcycle Accident Liability Issues

The medical bills alone in these cases could exceed $5 million. Compensation is available as mentioned above. But there are some legal and practical hurdles to overcome, especially in lane-splitting claims.


Legally, victim/plaintiffs must prove that the driver’s negligence, as opposed to the rider’s lane-splitting, substantially caused the wreck. Usually in this context, negligence is a failure to look before changing lanes. Many drivers are completely unaware that a lane-splitting rider might be approaching from behind when they change lanes. That unawareness, when coupled with the standard failure to watch for motorcycle riders, is usually sufficient to establish driver negligence.


Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is one of the most common defenses in these situations. This legal doctrine may enable the defending party to shift the accident blame from the driver to the victim. In Virginia, if you are found to be even 1% at fault for the accident, you are barred from recovering anything. Since the motorcycle rider is technically breaking the law in these claims, many jurors are willing to accept the contributory negligence defense.


Motorcycle Prejudice 

Something called “motorcycle prejudice” increases this likelihood. People may believe that motorcycle riders are reckless. Therefore, they are quick to blame riders for crashes, even if the evidence suggests otherwise. This is, of course, all the more reason why victims in a motorcycle accident should contact a lawyer. 


Call Today for Help From an Experienced Attorney

Car crash victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Richmond, contact Geoff McDonald & Associates, P.C. Lawyers can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.

Geoff McDonald and Associates: 804-888-8888.


No Fees Unless We Win

    How Are Truck Accidents Different From Car Accidents in Virginia?

    Power trucking accidents are one of the most dangerous types of road accidents, and they differ significantly from car accidents in several ways. The most apparent difference between a truck and a car is their size and weight. Trucks are much bigger and heavier than...

    What to Do if You’re Hurt in a Virginia Multi-Vehicle Crash

    Any car accident has the potential to cause catastrophic injuries and property damage, and multi-vehicle accidents can dramatically increase those risks.  Multiple-vehicle accidents involve three or more vehicles, which also complicates determining fault and...

    How Do I Know If I Have a Valid Truck Accident Case in Virginia?

    Truck accidents are some of the deadliest vehicle accidents that occur across Virginia, especially when commercial trucks collide with smaller vehicles. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a truck collision, you may ask, “Do I have a valid truck accident case?”...

    Is It Illegal to Tailgate Behind another Car in Virginia?

    Following too closely in Virginia is a traffic infraction punishable by a fine beginning at $81. Tailgating in Virginia is not only a moving traffic violation that could result in demerit points on your driver’s license, but is also dangerous to drivers and passengers...

    Our Case Results

    Industrial Plant Accident

    Attorneys for the Plaintiff: Jeffrey A. Breit and Justin M. Sheldon Our client was killed in an industrial accident when an unauthorized worker was operating an overhead crane and pinned our client between…

    Rear-End Crash

    Our client suffered a traumatic brain injury, facial trauma, a dislocated hip and severe abdominal trauma when she was rear-ended at a traffic light by a tractor trailer. Suit was commenced shortly after…

    Assault of Log Truck Driver

    Attorneys for the Plaintiff: Geoffrey R. McDonald, Frank H. Hupfl, Justin M. Sheldon.
    Our client suffered a traumatic brain injury after being assaulted and knocked to the ground while fueling his logging…

    Drunk Driving Crash

    Our client suffered neck/head trauma and a broken wrist after his vehicle was struck by a drunk driver while he was stopped at a traffic light. Upon rejection of a settlement offer of $325,000, our litigation…

    Rear-End Collision

    Attorneys for the Plaintiff: Justin M. Sheldon and Geoff R. McDonald, Richmond
    GMA’s client was injured as a result of a rear-end collision in the greater Richmond area. The crash occurred a little after…

    Client Reviews

    Cheryl and Rich were wonderful and patient with me throughout the case. All of my questions were answered. They really helped me through this tough time and made sure to let me know what was going on. I really thank Geoff…

    Troy Saxby

    My experience with GMA staff was first rate. They always represented in a professional way and made sure I had everything as far as paperwork. Kara and Theo made sure to answer all my questions, was always available and so…

    Shirley Brown

    Geoff McDonald & Associates is the team that you want on the field if you’re in need of top notch legal defense! Mr. Taj Henley demonstrated true customer service skills and his expertise made me feel comfortable throughout the…

    Julian Reeves

    Geoff McDonald & Associates: Thank you Taj Henley for all of your hard work and dedication! Very expeditious in my case and I was very satisfied with my settlement. Will recommend to all my friends and family!

    Shareema Williams

    Geoff is number one in my book and I especially appreciate the support of Mr Henley

    Ebony Conwell

    I was so pleased with the knowledge and support from Mr. Taj Henley

    Kideem Frierson

    Thank you Geoff McDonald &Associates. A special thank you to Mr. Taj Henley

    Denise Conwell

    Mr. Taj Henley displays exceptional professionalism for Geoff McDonald & Associates, along with commendable communication skills and customer service. By his work ethic and commitment to the people he serves his value to any…

    Justin Fitzgerald