Is Lane Splitting Legal in South Carolina?

South Carolina’s climate makes its roads great for riding motorcycles. So much so that Myrtle Beach hosts an annual bike rally that attracts hundreds of thousands of bikers every year. However, not all of these motorcyclists are aware of South Carolina’s laws concerning bikes.

A motorcycle’s narrow profile allows it to fit in tight spaces, sometimes leading riders to split lanes, a dangerous behavior that can cause accidents and injury. Is lane splitting legal in South Carolina? Our experienced Myrtle Beach motorcycle accident lawyers at Maguire Law Firm explain the state laws around this practice and how we can help if you sustain injuries in a lane splitting accident caused by someone else’s negligence.

What Is Lane Splitting?

The definition of lane splitting is riding on the lines that divide roadway lanes between two vehicles traveling side by side. The average lane width is 12 feet, with a car’s average width being 6’8”. Assuming that cars travel centered in their lanes, the space between them should be approximately five feet. That’s enough space for a motorcycle to fit.

Is Lane Splitting Legal in South Carolina?

Laws require motorcycle riders to follow the same rules of the road as cars, so it is not legal to lane split in South Carolina, either in moving traffic or during standstill conditions. Using part of an occupied lane to pass other vehicles is also illegal.

Splitting lanes does not necessarily prevent a biker from seeking compensation if another party’s negligence causes an accident. However, insurance companies may try to avoid paying your claim by placing the blame squarely on your shoulders if you were breaking the law. Your Maguire Law Firm legal team will ensure a fair proportioning of fault.

Lane splitting vs. lane sharing

When a group of bikers travels together, you’ll often see two riding side by side. Known as lane sharing, this practice is legal. Even the largest bikes are narrow enough for two to share a lane’s width safely.

Does Lane Splitting Have Advantages?

Some people believe that splitting lanes should be legal, stating some advantages to the practice. Many bikers split lanes to avoid traffic delays. In other cases, they attempt to avoid rear-end collisions by splitting lanes.

Legalizing lane splitting might reduce congestion in heavy traffic; however, other motorists who are stuck in traffic may become frustrated by the bike’s easy movement and progress. Drivers often angle their vehicles or open their doors to keep bikers from lane splitting, sometimes causing accidents. Opponents of the practice claim the risks of lane splitting far outweigh any benefits.

Is Lane Splitting Dangerous?

Lane splitting is dangerous, which is why South Carolina and almost every other state have laws making it illegal.

Drivers typically have a harder time spotting bikes because of their smaller size as compared to other motor vehicles, and this is exacerbated when they’re riding close to another vehicle. Car and truck drivers also don’t expect anyone to travel between lanes, which adds to the dangers.

Bikers often sustain severe injuries, even in low-speed accidents, because helmets and riding leathers do little to protect them.

What Should You Do After an Accident Involving Lane Splitting?

You should do several things after any kind of accident to safeguard your health and support your potential insurance claim. Your injuries, adrenaline, or shock may make it difficult to focus, but try to keep in mind these steps:

  1. Notify law enforcement and wait for first responders to arrive at the accident scene.
  2. Use your phone to take photos and record videos of all relevant details, including injuries, vehicle placement and damage, skid marks, road and weather conditions, and anything else that may have contributed to your accident. With permission, you can also record witness statements.
  3. Accept or seek medical treatment, even if you believe your injuries aren’t serious. Trained professionals can accurately evaluate your condition and identify unapparent injuries. In addition, they will create an official document that establishes your medical condition immediately after the accident.
  4. Never admit fault to anyone; don’t even apologize. Liable insurance companies can use these statements against you to minimize your compensation amount.
  5. Contact a competent motorcycle accident lawyer in the area. We can evaluate your accident, offer case-specific advice, and explain what you should expect during the next few hours, days, and weeks.

Lane splitting is not legal, but you may still qualify to obtain damages from at-fault parties. This kind of claim is sometimes challenging to handle alone. The Maguire Law Firm knows how to overcome potential challenges and fight for a favorable outcome.

How Does Lane Splitting Affect Accident Claims?

Whether a biker mistakenly believes that it is legal to lane split in South Carolina or chooses to ignore the laws, lane splitting doesn’t necessarily disqualify them from seeking compensation for accident-related damages. However, anyone’s eligibility to file an accident claim depends on their degree of fault.

For example, another driver may intentionally and suddenly move to block you from lane splitting. Their abrupt action can cause you to wreck, and you may qualify to file a claim against them. Your lane-splitting accident lawyer can tell you whether you have a valid claim.

What Is Negligence?

Negligence is the basis for most personal injury claims, including motorcycle accidents. Everyone who operates a motor vehicle, including motorcycles, has a legal obligation called a duty of care to follow safe driving practices to decrease the likelihood of harming themselves and others. Negligence is failing to act as a reasonable person would in the same situation.

Your Maguire Law Firm legal team will investigate your accident, looking for evidence that proves the other party’s negligence. We must show that:

  • Someone owed you a duty of care.
  • That party breached their duty of care.
  • You sustained injuries.
  • The breach directly caused your injuries and related damages.

Common instances of negligence include speeding, following too closely, improper merging or lane changes, failing to follow traffic signals, and distracted driving. These are all examples of human error, making most accidents caused by these behaviors avoidable.

Modified comparative negligence

South Carolina follows a modified comparative negligence law when more than one party shares fault in an injury accident to define who can seek compensation. You are typically eligible if your assigned degree of fault is less than 51%.

However, this law mandates a reduction in your payout that is proportional to your percentage of fault. For example, if you are 10% at fault, expect to receive only 90% of your total damages.

How Can a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Help You?

You probably know that an attorney can help you win compensation, but did you know we can often obtain a significantly higher settlement than if you handle your claim alone? We take our duties seriously, and we want to make the process as simple as possible for you. Maguire Law Firm will:

  • Offer information and explain legal options
  • Perform claim-related administrative tasks
  • Investigate your accident and gather evidence to support your claim
  • Handle all communications with insurance company representatives
  • Negotiate a reasonable settlement offer or take your case to trial

When you hire us, we will fiercely advocate for your right to fair compensation.

Motorcycle accident claims are often complex, and your physical and mental condition after an accident may prevent you from accomplishing the required tasks. Let us relieve you of that burden so you can concentrate your efforts on recovering from your injuries.

Why Choose the Maguire Law Firm After a Lane-Splitting Accident?

You need an experienced personal injury law firm if you hope for a favorable outcome. The Maguire Law Firm has successfully handled many motorcycle accident claims similar to yours, and we look forward to assisting you with your case.

Contact us today to request your free consultation or if you’d like more information about lane splitting in South Carolina. Someone is available 24/7 for your convenience. You won’t pay fees if we don’t recover compensation for you, so there is no risk but much to gain.

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