Do Motorcycles Have the Right of Way?

by Paula A. Wyatt | June 28, 2022 | Blog, Personal Injury | 0 comments

Do Motorcycles Have the Right of Way? Like other vehicles on the road, there are right of way laws that apply to motorcycles. While many passenger vehicles assume that motorcycles do not have any right to the road, they do. Depending on where you reside, the rules for sharing the road with motorcycles will vary slightly. When you get your motorcycle license, you will undergo driving and written exams to understand the road rules. While other drivers will undergo similar training, they will not always act appropriately, which causes an accident. A right-of-way accident will heavily injure the motorcycle rider. The Insurance Information Institute reports that cars failing to yield the right of way for a motorcycle cause 7 percent of all fatal motorcycle collisions nationwide. Most right-of-way accidents result in permanent injury or death. When a right-of-way accident injures you on your motorcycle, you may file a claim and obtain compensation from the other entity whose negligent actions led to your accident. However, speak with a motorcycle accident attorney near you right now.

Traffic control devices and uncontrolled intersections

Lawyer for Motorcycle Accident and Know about the Right ofThere are two intersections, those with traffic control devices and those without. When you reach an intersection without a traffic control device, the general rule is the first vehicle to enter the intersection has the right of way; when two cars arrive simultaneously, the vehicle on the left yields the right of way to the car on the right. Right of way changes when there are traffic control devices in place. When there is a stop sign on one side and not the other, the vehicles that have a stop must yield to the others. When the intersection has a four-way stop, each vehicle will stop, and the first vehicle will go first, and each car will follow sequentially by order of appearance. Traffic lights make right of way easier since they give clear directions on which vehicles can enter the intersection. When lights are inoperable, a traffic control officer will likely be present to allow the right vehicles to go when it is their time. If there is not a traffic officer present, the intersection will have the same rules as a four-way stop. The key is to stay alert and pay attention to the signals that other vehicles around you are giving.

Left turns

The most common driving maneuver to cause an accident is turning left. When The intersection has a light, there will be an indicator to show when vehicles can turn left and when they can go straight. If there is no indicator, then the turning left car will yield the road to any vehicles going straight. Motorcyclists need caution when turning left into a shopping center because other vehicles will try to get around the bike and enter the shopping center simultaneously. Passing is legal in certain places, but even when it is not, vehicles will attempt to pass on the left and ignore the safety of others. If you suffer an accident because of a negligent driver, you must contact a right-of-way accident lawyer to hold the other party liable.

Pedestrians and crosswalks

When it comes to pedestrians, they will have priority over a motorcycle. Pedestrians will typically enter the road using crosswalks. A pedestrian can cross without a crosswalk, so you should always be alert. Look out for individuals on skateboards and bicycles as they are pedestrians on the road. Motorcycles will not have the right of way over a pedestrian on a sidewalk.

Entering from a private road

When exiting a driveway, alley, or shopping center, a motorist must yield to all approaching vehicles. When you see enough space to enter the highway or roadway safely, you can proceed with caution.

Sharing the road with specialized vehicles

You must yield the right of way to emergency vehicles. Every motor vehicle on the road will need to pull to the right of the road to allow emergency vehicles with active lights and sirens to pass. The vehicles cannot move onto the road until the emergency vehicle passes. Motorists must safely pass other vehicles, such as stationary sanitation or utility vehicles, on the left-hand side. You must slow down when you pass these vehicles and ensure no other vehicles are approaching.

Riding on the highway

A motorcycle on the highway can essentially ride in any lane they choose. Most riders will opt for the left lane for safety and convenience. When other drivers are around, they must ensure they share the road with a motorcycle. They should not try to share the same lane as this can cause the bike to veer off the road and cause serious injury. The best way drivers can keep motorcyclists safe is by sharing the road. They must look at the motorcycle like any other vehicle on the road and not as a vehicle with fewer rights.

HOV lanes

Federal law allows motorcycles to use HOV lanes. The motorcyclist can carry a singular passenger to use this lane. While this is federal law, some states will have laws that override this, so it is best to check. Motorists in the HOV lane do not expect to see a motorcycle in the carpool lane and become agitated by sharing the road with a motorcycle. It is your right to use the highway just like them, and you should not feel intimidated by their actions.

How do right-of-way accidents happen?

Now that you know some common right-of-way scenarios, you must be mindful of how right-of-way accidents happen. While all drivers know these laws and regulations, they do not always adhere to them. Other drivers are not used to sharing the road with smaller vehicles like motorcycles. These drivers will often ignore motorcyclists on the road, which leads to accidents. It is up to drivers to share the road and ensure that everyone around them stays safe. Some common reasons that a right-of-way accident happens are:

Drivers do not see motorcycles

When a driver does not see a motorcycle coming their way or in their lane, they can act as if no one is there, which leads to an accident. The motorcyclist proceeds but does not realize that the other vehicles do not see them. Catastrophe ensues. Since motorcycles are smaller vehicles, many drivers do not have it in their subconscious to look out for these types of vehicles. When you also consider fog, rain, sun glare, or other debilitating weather hazards, drivers’ line of sight is heavily blocked. While no one can control mother nature, it still does not excuse a driver from liability after a motorcycle accident. Motorists must pay attention to their surroundings, especially when they see reflective clothing. Inattentive or distracted drivers cause many of these accidents, which is a leading cause of fatal accidents across the county.

Drivers think they have the right of way

While many right-of-way laws are listed above and addressed on a driving exam, many drivers do not abide by them. When a passenger vehicle driver does not yield when they should, it can cause a fatal motorcycle accident. There are several reasons a driver thinks they have the right of way when they do not. Sometimes there is confusion regarding who got to an intersection first, and other times the driver does not think the motorcyclist has the right to the road. Both of these issues are the driver’s problem and have nothing to do with the motorcyclist’s actions. While a driver can attempt to plead ignorance, this does not relieve them of their accountability for causing you injury.

Drivers blatantly disrespect motorcyclists

While no one wants to believe that a driver will go out of their way to cause another person harm, sadly, it does happen. Drivers will resent a motorcycle rider for no apparent reason and consciously decide to drive erratically and put them in danger. The motorcyclist follows all road rules and is in a situation they cannot get out of. Unfortunately, while motorcyclists do not hold any responsibility for an accident, they will bear the brunt of the damage. Motorcycle accidents lead to severe injury and even death. You are not liable for these damages because of your transportation choice; when you are in a collision with a reckless or careless driver while on your motorcycle, you must contact a right-of-way accident attorney.

The catastrophic results of a motorcycle accident

When a motorcycle accident happens, the motorcyclists will sustain the brunt of the force due to their smaller size. This situation is unfair since the motorcycle rider did nothing to contribute to the accident. Unfortunately, injuries can affect all body parts and leave a rider permanently impaired. Even with protective equipment, the other driver's actions make some injuries unavoidable. Examples of catastrophic injuries a motorcycle rider will sustain include:
  • Neurological damage
  • Spinal cord trauma
  • Bone dislocations
  • Herniations
  • Neck injuries
  • Open head wounds
  • Neck injury
  • Whiplash
  • Ligament damage
  • Abrasions
  • Burns
  • Paralysis
  • Death
While medical treatment can make you more comfortable, many of these injuries will have life-altering effects and need ongoing medical care. You did not cause the accident. While you must face the physical challenges, you are not responsible for the financial implications. A right-of-way accident attorney will work diligently to hold the other party accountable for their actions.

Who to call after a motorcycle right-of-way accident

When you are safe and comfortable at home, immediately contact a local motorcycle accident attorney. A motorcycle accident attorney will work to get the liable party to pay for the medical treatment you need by building a case against the other party. Focus on healing and getting back to some semblance of normalcy. A qualified attorney can:
  • Identify the negligent party
  • Review insurance policies for the other party
  • Gather police reports and medical records
  • Calculate lost wages
  • Document your damages
  • Prove the other party was at fault
  • Negotiate with the insurance company
  • Advise you on your legal options and potential outcomes
  • Hire expert witnesses
  • Work with accident reconstruction experts
  • Represent you at trial
A lawyer will have a range of duties once you bring them onto your team. Your priority is healing, while an attorney is hyper-focused on recovery and holding parties liable for their damage. Determining what the cause of the accident is of the utmost importance. While you know the other driver was at fault, you may not realize how the accident happened. During an investigation, a motorcycle accident attorney will determine if any of these factors caused the accident:
  • Improper lane change
  • Aggressive driving
  • Fatigue
  • Distractions
  • Tailgating
  • Intoxication
  • Texting or using the phone
  • Intentional disregard of the motorcyclists
While these are unacceptable, they can all play different roles in your claim. The driver can face additional charges, and the insurance company will have further proof that their insured driver was a negligent or reckless party. The insurance company can even drop the driver for their egregious actions. Initially, however, the insurance company will work day and night to ensure you do not get the compensation you need to recover for your injuries and damages. They will find even the smallest detail to lower or deny a claim. You are in a vulnerable state, physically and mentally. The insurance company is like a vulture that will swoop in and feed off your vulnerability. They will attempt to force you to make a statement that harms your claim or will offer a settlement. You assume they want to help you, but they only want to help themselves. Do not make any statements to the insurance company or accept a settlement offer. Instead, call a lawyer who can handle your case effectively.


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