June 03, 2024

Is Lane Splitting Legal in Wisconsin?

Motorcycle lane splitting and motorcycle lane filtering are two similar practices that motorcycle riders often use on the roads. These actions involve riding on the center line between other vehicles, though both are explicitly illegal in Wisconsin. Currently, lane splitting is illegal in every state except California, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Lane splitting, which is often called white lining, and lane filtering are common causes of a motorcycle accident. When splitting lanes on a motorcycle, it is much easier to end up in an accident.

Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs, LLP, also known as GTW Lawyers, is a leading law firm in Wisconsin, focusing on providing personal injury representation for victims in motorcycle accident cases. In this article, we provide insights on lane-splitting laws in the state and how they can impact your case.

What to Know About Wisconsin Lane Splitting and Lane Filtering Laws

Many people ask, “Is lane splitting legal?” The answer is that the laws explicitly prohibit lane splitting. Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes of traffic heading in the same direction. Lane filtering is similar, though the vehicles a motorcycle is riding between are stopped or moving slowly. The laws set by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation specifically mention lane splitting as an illegal action. The reason the law prohibits lane splitting is that this dangerous action can lead to a motorcycle accident.

Lane sharing is a different issue than lane splitting or lane filtering. It is when two motorcycles in the same lane are in a staggered formation; however, lane sharing with two motorcycles riding side by side in the same traffic lane is not prohibited.

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Can Lane Splitting Affect Compensation in a Motorcycle Accident Case?

Now that we’ve answered the question, “Is lane splitting legal,” it is time to address what could happen if you are in a motorcycle accident where lane splitting or lane filtering were factors. In Wisconsin, contributory negligence laws will be considered when a lane splitting accident is investigated.

This means that in a lane split, which is forbidden by the motorcycle laws of the state, you may be deemed partially at fault in an accident. You must be deemed 50% or less at fault for causing the accident or you will be barred from recovering compensation. The insurance company will try to find a way to blame you because you were lane splitting. It is always best to consult a personal injury attorney who can help protect your legal rights.

In short, if you were engaged in lane splitting between traffic lanes, it is illegal. Even though lane splitting is a common practice despite these specific laws, they will claim your behavior played a role in your injuries.

Steps to Take After a Wisconsin Lane Splitting Accident

It is important to remember that even if you are obeying traffic laws and the speed limit, if you get into an accident on your motorcycle, you could be blamed. When you engage in lane splitting between traffic lanes, even if you are going at the ambient traffic speed while you split lanes, it is illegal.

Still, other motorists in the surrounding traffic are often the ones who fail to pay attention to motorcyclists, especially when you are lane-splitting in Wisconsin. The only state that permits this action on a motorcycle is California.

When you are in an accident due to lane splitting, it is important to follow proper protocol. These steps will help you preserve your legal options in a lane splitting accident.

Seek Medical Care

After any accident, you should call the police to report the accident. You should request emergency medical services if you are hurt. You may not notice any injuries, but it is still necessary to get treated to address any known or unknown injuries.

Exchange Info with Other Motorists

All traffic laws require those involved in a crash to exchange information. This should also be done with any witnesses.

Gather Evidence

If you are able to take photos or videos of the accident scene, they may be able to help your case.

Learn More About Your Legal Rights with a Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Lane splitting between one traffic lane and the next is not legal in Wisconsin. Whether you are being accused of this action or you were engaged in a lane split when your accident occurred, it is vital that you speak with an attorney who is well-versed in the state’s motorcycle laws.

Another driver may have acted negligently, which would make them liable for your injuries. Contact GTW Lawyers to schedule a free initial consultation.

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