Motorcycle Accidents Caused by Blind Spots and Lane Splitting

Riding a motorcycle offers a thrilling sense of freedom and adventure but also involves inherent risks. Motorcyclists are far more vulnerable than occupants of passenger vehicles, and accidents involving bikes often result in catastrophic injuries. Two common and hazardous scenarios motorcyclists face are collisions caused by blind spots and lane splitting. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries in one of these crashes, it is crucial to understand your legal rights and options.

The Dangers of Blind Spots for Motorcyclists

Every vehicle has blind spots—areas the driver cannot see in their rearview or side mirrors. However, blind spots pose an outsized threat to motorcyclists because bikes are smaller and more accessible to overlook than cars or trucks. A driver who fails to check their blind spots thoroughly before changing lanes or merging can easily collide with an unseen motorcycle, often with devastating consequences.

Motorcycles lack the protective metal framework, seatbelts, and airbags that shield passenger vehicle occupants during a crash. When a car or truck sideswipes a bike or runs a motorcycle off the road, the rider can suffer severe “road rash,” broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Even riders who wear helmets and protective gear are at risk of life-altering harm.

Lane Splitting: Controversial and Hazardous

Lane splitting refers to motorcyclists riding between lanes of slower-moving or stopped traffic, usually during heavy congestion. While some riders argue that lane splitting is safer than leaving the bike exposed to rear-end collisions in stop-and-go traffic, the practice remains illegal in Illinois and most other states.

Opponents of lane splitting argue that it is inherently dangerous for motorcyclists since there is little room to maneuver between lanes, and cars do not expect vehicles to pass them in slowed or stopped traffic. If a driver suddenly changes lanes without signaling or opens their door without checking for approaching bikes, they can easily strike a motorcyclist attempting to ride between lanes. The resulting crash can throw the rider from their bike and into the path of oncoming traffic.

Determining Fault in Blind Spot and Lane Splitting Crashes

Liability for blind spot and lane-splitting accidents often rests with drivers who fail to check their surroundings before changing lanes or opening a door. Under Illinois law, drivers must ensure the maneuver is safe before merging, changing lanes, or opening a vehicle door into traffic. All motorists are also legally obligated to watch for and share the road safely with motorcyclists.

However, establishing fault can be challenging in these cases. The driver may claim they did not see the motorcycle or assert that the rider’s behavior made the crash unavoidable. Insurance companies frequently try to shift blame to motorcyclists to reduce their financial liability. They may also pressure riders to accept lowball settlement offers that fail to cover the full extent of their losses.

It is crucial to conduct a thorough accident investigation as soon as possible to combat these tactics. Your legal team will work to locate and preserve potentially valuable evidence, such as:

  • Police accident reports
  • Photos and video of the accident scene
  • Surveillance or traffic camera footage
  • Dashcam video from the involved vehicles or bystanders
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Vehicle damage and skid mark analysis
  • Data from the vehicles’ electronic control modules
  • Cell phone records that may show driver distraction
  • The other driver’s history of unsafe behavior or moving violations

Your lawyer will also gather extensive documentation of the injuries you sustained in the motorcycle crash, the medical treatment you need, and the impact on your life. This may include:

  • Emergency room records and follow-up care notes
  • Test results like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs
  • Surgical reports and physical therapy records
  • Psychological evaluations diagnosing conditions like PTSD
  • Testimony from medical and occupational experts
  • Statements from loved ones about your day-to-day challenges

Compassionate Counsel for Injured Motorcyclists

If you have been injured in a blind spot or lane-splitting accident in Northbrook, contact the seasoned Illinois motorcycle accident lawyers at Stein & Shulman, LLC today for a free consultation. We will listen to your story with empathy, thoroughly explain your rights, and explain how we can help you pursue the justice and full financial recovery you deserve.