You’re out on your bike and traffic is moving at a snail’s pace, so you pull between the lanes and maneuver your way toward freedom. You’re just about there when a motorist crosses into your path or sideswipes you. Can you still try to recover compensation for your losses with a personal injury lawsuit? Will the fact that you were lane splitting at the time of the accident prevent you from recovery? Would it make a difference if you received a ticket?
The fact that you were lane splitting at the time of an accident (regardless of whether you received a ticket) will not disqualify you from filing a personal injury lawsuit or seeking compensation/damages for any losses you’ve suffered. Lane splitting is not expressly prohibited by New Jersey law, nor is it clearly permitted. In fact, you can be cited for engaging in lane splitting (though it won’t be called that).
In a personal injury lawsuit, you can always allege that the defendant (person from whom you seek compensation) acted with intent, but that’s the exception to the rule. Most personal injury claims are based on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence requires that you show that another person failed to act reasonably at the time of an accident, causing the accident and resulting in actual losses by you. In New Jersey, as in other states, both parties may be (and often are) found to be responsible for causing an accident. While a traffic citation may be evidence that you were not acting reasonably, it won’t automatically disqualify you for recovery. However, if the jury finds that your responsibility is greater than 50%, you will not be able to recover anything.
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