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In this week’s post we are going to discuss, what is for many, a very confusing principal of the law called, shared liability. In theory, it is a very simple matter to define this term. Shared liability in a personal injury case is the legal principle that two or more people could be jointly responsible for an incident occurring.

While this may sound simple enough, when brought into practice, by an experienced attorney, it can become a very valuable if often overlooked tool. I will illustrate.

This time of year, as most of the country starts getting ready to return to school, our area experiences a surge of vacationer traffic second only to that found in the spring. People from all across America flood Florida for one last fling before settling in for the winter. This results in traffic conditions that are often snarled and slow moving and leads some motorcyclist brothers to resort to lane splitting in order to make forward progress.

For those unfamiliar with the term, lane splitting is riding between two lanes of traffic. It is also sometimes called white lining in some areas, though legally the same, in practice, white lining is done in traffic moving at speed and lane splitting is through slow or stalled traffic. Now back to our example.

Lane splitting is a common occurrence that is legal in many states, but not in the State of Florida. Here it is considered an illegal maneuver and if a rider is splitting lanes and is involved in an accident they are considered at fault. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? You split lanes and hit someone or they hit you and it is your fault. You have to remember though that little, if anything is ever black and white within the law and this is where shared liability comes into play.

Suppose you are splitting lanes and a car starts changing lanes without signaling or negligently failed to look and clear the space they are pulling into and an accident ensues. You were performing an unsafe maneuver, but so were they. Now you have a case of shared liability and with proper legal counsel the opportunity to recover at least a portion of the damages you may have suffered as a result of the accident.

That is why it is important to seek the advice of a qualified attorney with experience in the type of situation you are involved in as soon as possible. They will know how to assess the facts, collect the evidence and present it to the court to prove that while you were not completely within the law, it was not your negligence, but the negligent actions of the other driver that actually caused the accident and thereby relieving you of all or part of the liability for damages.

Every case is different and to what extent or by what percentages the liability and damages may be divided will be up to the court, but if you don’t consult an attorney and then act on his advice you will definitely be left responsible for all damages and injuries resulting from the accident.

As always, be sure to choose an attorney that is experienced with cases similar to the one you are involved in. In our example, you would need not only a personal injury lawyer, but one specialized in handling motorcycle accidents and the unique situations that arise while riding.