No. Motorcycle lane splitting is not legal in South Carolina. The South Carolina Code of Laws expressly prohibits it.
Several states around the U.S. don’t take a stance on lane-splitting. Lane-splitting is outlawed in South Carolina because it is an inherently risky practice that can cause a collision.
But even so, motorcyclists who get hurt in South Carolina lane-splitting accidents may still have the right to receive compensation for their injuries and losses. Violating a traffic law does not bar you from seeking payment from at-fault drivers and others whose careless, reckless, or intentional misconduct contributed to your wreck. Talk to an experienced South Carolina motorcycle accident lawyer today to learn more.
Lane Splitting Is Illegal in South Carolina
Section 56-5-3640(c) of the South Carolina Code of Laws provides that “[n]o person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic, or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.” This constitutes an express prohibition on motorcycle lane splitting in the state. Only California currently permits the practice.
Violating the law generally constitutes a misdemeanor that may expose the offending rider to a loss of riding privileges, a fine, or a term of incarceration.
Lane Splitting Does Not Bar You From Seeking Compensation
Despite the legal prohibition on lane splitting in the Palmetto State, it still happens here. Some riders even insist that it’s a safer practice than sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic with often distracted drivers. Even so, sometimes lane-splitting motorcyclists get into accidents and sustain severe or fatal injuries. And often, those crashes are not entirely (or even partially) a biker’s fault.
You might think that violating South Carolina law by lane splitting would prevent someone from seeking monetary damages from the drivers or other parties who were partially responsible for causing your wreck. But that’s not the case.
South Carolina law permits you to pursue legal action for compensation even if your lane-splitting played a role in triggering the accident, so long as another party was at least as at fault for it as you were. In other words, you can be up to 50% at fault for causing a motorcycle crash that injured you and still sue others for their share of your damages.
To illustrate, if a motorcyclist is lane-splitting in slow traffic on I-77 and collides with a car and suffers injuries, the other driver’s actions are still examined. If the car’s driver cut the motorcyclist off after failing to signal a lane change or check their blind spot, then both parties could each be 50% at fault. In this case, South Carolina allows the motorcyclist to claim compensation from the driver for their share (50%) of the damages they sustained.
Why You Need a Lawyer After a Lane Splitting Accident
However, having the right to sue for damages after a lane-splitting accident does not amount to automatic or guaranteed payment — far from it.
As you may know, insurance companies and at-fault drivers’ defense lawyers already have a bias against paying fair compensation to bikers like you after an accident. The fact that you crashed while violating a traffic law will only amplify their resistance to paying for your losses.
To level the playing field, you need a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer to fight back on your behalf. Someone who understands South Carolina law and knows how to hold motorists and other at-fault parties accountable for their role in causing your wreck, even if you also bear some of the blame for what happened.
An experienced attorney can gather the evidence to prove other parties’ liability, show insurance companies and courts that you were at most 50% at fault, and ensure you receive fair payment for the losses you suffered because of someone else’s wrongdoing.
Contact a South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Lawyer at the Elrod Pope Law Firm Today
Lane splitting is illegal in South Carolina, but doing it doesn’t bar you from receiving compensation after getting hurt in a lane-splitting accident. In many cases, a skilled motorcycle accident injury attorney can handle your claim and secure payment for the share of your losses that were not your fault.
FAQs About Lane Splitting Motorcycle Accidents
Who decides my percentage of fault for a lane-splitting accident?
Initially, lawyers and insurance companies try to find common ground on each party’s degree of fault. But if they can’t agree, a judge or jury might have to decide after a trial of your claim.
Can a biker get compensation if they’re charged criminally for lane splitting?
Yes. Any criminal exposure for lane splitting is separate and distinct from an at-fault party’s liability for an injured biker’s damages.