The subject of lane splitting in Indiana stirs up a lot of opinions — both from motorcycle enthusiasts and other motorists. Some believe that it’s unsafe for motorcyclists to drive between lanes during traffic jams, while others argue in its favor. Whether you think it’s a good idea or not, everyone on the road needs to follow the rules.
What Is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting refers to the practice where bikers ride between lanes of slow-moving traffic on roads or highways. You may have seen this before where riders use the space between vehicles to steer through the congestion. Since they are driving over the white lines painted on the road that separates one lane from another, it’s sometimes also referred to as “white-lining”.
Notably, lane splitting is different from other similar-sounding behaviors:
- Lane filtering: This is moving between lanes of stopped traffic, to reach the front of a queue at a light or intersection.
- Lane sharing: This is when two or more bikers ride side-by-side in the same lane.
- Shoulder surfing: This refers to riding on the road shoulder, usually to bypass traffic.
Is it Legal to Split Lanes in Indiana?
In Indiana, it is illegal for motorcycles to pass vehicles in the same lane. The state has also outlawed the practice of lane filtering and driving on the shoulder for motorcycles. The shoulder is meant for emergencies and not for regular travel or bypassing traffic.
Lane sharing, on the other hand, is generally allowed in Indiana.
Bikers in Indiana are required to occupy a full lane, just like any other vehicle — they are not allowed to split lanes as per Indiana Code § 9-21-10-6. Lane splitting, by its very nature, encroaches on the space of other drivers, denying them full use of their lanes. Motorcyclists must stay within the bounds of a single lane and not weave between lanes.
What if Lane Splitting Results in an Accident?
You were driving your car, following all the traffic rules, and a biker suddenly came out of nowhere in a hurry to pass through the traffic. If this results in you crashing your car and getting injured, you have two legal options to seek compensation:
File an insurance claim
Indiana follows a fault-based system for motor vehicle accidents, i.e., the person at fault for the collision is responsible for the damages. Since lane splitting is illegal in Indiana, the motorcyclist would be considered at fault.
Ideally, you would file a claim directly with the biker’s insurance company. If the claim is successful, you can recover damages without involving your own insurance policy. But this can sometimes be complicated, as they may dispute your claim or offer a lower settlement than what you believe your claim is worth.
Another option is to file a claim with your own insurer. If you have Collision Coverage or Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage, you can file a claim with them and they will then seek reimbursement from the at-fault party’s insurer — this process is known as subrogation. This can be a much quicker way to get compensation, especially if liability is clear.
File a personal injury lawsuit
If the insurance claim does not cover all your damages, or if the motorcyclist is uninsured, you may consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. In this case, you will need to prove that their lane splitting caused the accident and your resulting injuries. An attorney experienced in personal injury law in Indiana can provide valuable guidance. Most offer free initial consultations to discuss the specifics of your case and advise on the best course of action.
Your case will likely settle out of court through negotiations between your attorney and the defendant or their insurer. But if it does not, you will have to go to trial, where a judge or jury will review the evidence and decide on liability and damages.
If you win, the court may award you compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other related costs.
What if You Were Splitting Lanes When the Accident Happened?
When you file a claim for a motorcycle accident, the act of lane splitting can play a significant role in whether you can get compensation. If there was a crash and other drivers contributed to it, you may have the option to seek compensation from them. Under Indiana law, you are eligible for financial reimbursement if all of the following apply:
- The other driver was obligated to be cautious while driving.
- They acted unsafely, i.e., they did not behave as thoughtfully as most drivers would have done in those conditions.
- That driver’s lack of safety directly led to the accident.
- You suffered injuries because of the crash.
Of course, a rider who was splitting lanes is likely to be considered to have been acting negligently. This might prevent them from successfully claiming injury compensation.
That said, just because a rider is white-lining illegally, it does not give other drivers the excuse to ignore their duty of care. If another driver could have seen the motorcyclist but was not paying attention or was speeding and hit the rider, that driver might also be held partly at fault for the accident.
Consult with Our Experienced Auto Accident Attorneys in Indiana Today
If your life has been turned upside down by a lane-splitting accident, whether you are the biker caught in the split-second decision or a motorist impacted by such a maneuver, you may have a right to claim damages from the at-fault party. At Wagner Reese, LLP, our skilled and experienced auto accident lawyers can work to prove the liability of the defendants and pursue the highest possible compensation for your injuries and losses.