Alabama is a great place to ride a motorcycle. At the same time, motorcycles also have the potential to be extremely dangerous without proper safety precautions. According to data from the Alabama Department of Transportation, 1,213 motorcyclists were injured and 90 were killed in the state in 2020 alone. Riders were injured in more than 70% of reported motorcycle crashes.
At Lewis & Feldman, LLC, we are strong advocates for motorcycle safety. Our personal injury law firm represents riders injured in collisions. Every motorcyclist should know their rights and responsibilities under state law. In this article, our Birmingham motorcycle accident lawyer provides a comprehensive guide to the motorcycle laws in Alabama.
Your Responsibilities Under Alabama’s Motorcycle Laws
Alabama imposes certain obligations on motorcycle riders. Before you get on a bike, it is essential that you have a full understanding of your duties under state law. Here are three key things to know about your legal responsibilities as a motorcyclist in Alabama:
- Motorcyclists Must Obtain a License: You cannot lawfully operate a motorcycle on public roads in Alabama without the proper license. Alabama law requires individuals to obtain a class M driver license to operate a motorcycle. To get a motorcycle license in Alabama, you must pass the knowledge and skills tests.
- Motorcyclists Must Wear a Helmet: In Alabama, all motorcyclists and motorcycle passengers are required to wear protective headgear (Alabama Code § 32-5A-245). There is no exception for riders over the age of 21 who wish to opt out. Motorcycle helmets are mandatory and they save lives. Some studies have shown that a proper fitting motorcycle helmet reduces the risk of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) by as much as 75%.
- Lane-Splitting is Prohibited: Similar to most other U.S. states, motorcycle lane splitting is barred in Alabama. In effect, this means that motorcyclists cannot ride in between lanes to navigate slow-moving traffic. Even if traffic is going at a snail’s pace, lane-splitting is still a prohibited practice.
Your Rights Under Alabama’s Motorcycle Laws
As a motorcyclist, you have the right to use the roads and highways in Alabama. Far too many drivers and truckers in our general region fail to properly respect the rights of bikers. Here are three things to know about your rights as a motorcyclist in Alabama:
- You Have the Right to Control an Entire Lane: Motorcycles are not inferior to automobiles in Alabama. As a motorcyclist, you have the right to control an entire lane. All other drivers on the road must give you adequate space to operate your bike in a safe manner.
- You are Permitted to Share a Lane With Another Motorcycle: Although motorcycle lane-splitting is a prohibited practice in Alabama, state law does allow motorcyclists to ride side-by-side. While you are not required to do so, you have the right to ride next to another motorcycle in the same lane as long as it is done in a safe manner.
- You are Owed a Duty of Care By Others: All drivers, road users, motorcycle manufacturers, and other parties owe a general duty of care to motorcyclists. That is to say that these parties have a general legal responsibility to avoid causing undue risk to motorcyclists through negligence.
An Overview of Motorcycle Accident Liability in Alabama
If you or your family member was hurt in a motorcycle accident in Birmingham, it is imperative that you know what will happen next. Your motorcycle accident claim will be governed by the state’s liability laws. Key things to understand about motorcycle accident liability in Alabama include:
- Motorcycle Accidents that Result in Injuries Must Be Reported: All injury crashes, including motorcycle collisions that result in injuries, must be reported to law enforcement. If you were hurt in a motorcycle crash in Jefferson County or anywhere else in Alabama, make sure your crash is properly reported.
- A Two-Year Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accident Injury Claims: You can file a personal injury claim after a serious motorcycle accident. However, you must do so within the applicable statute of limitations. In Alabama, there is a two-year statute of limitations for most motorcycle accident injury claims. Do not wait too long to start the claims process after an accident. Call a Birmingham, AL motorcycle accident attorney right away.
- Motorcycle Accident Liability is Based on Fault: Alabama is a fault-based motor vehicle accident state. The fault-based standard of liability applies to all types of highway collisions, including motorcycle accidents. The party at-fault for causing your motorcycle crash—a careless driver, a negligent trucking company, etc—should be held accountable.
- Alabama is a Contributory Negligence State: Unlike most other places in the United States, Alabama still uses a contributory negligence standard. It is a harsh system for victims. In effect, you will be denied an opportunity to pursue compensation for your injuries if you are at fault for even a small share of your own motorcycle accident. All motorcycle accidents should be thoroughly investigated. Do not rely on an insurance company to protect your best interests.
- You May Seek Financial Compensation for Your Damages: Through a motorcycle accident injury claim in Alabama, victims have a right to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Along with other types of losses, injured motorcyclists in Birmingham may be entitled to recovery for: motorcycle repairs or replacement, emergency room treatment, medical bills, lost wages, diminished ability to earn, pain and suffering, permanent scarring, and long term disability.
Call Our Birmingham, AL Motorcycle Accident Attorney for Immediate Help
At Lewis & Feldman, LLC, our Birmingham motorcycle accident lawyer fights aggressively to protect the rights and interests of injured riders. If you or your loved one was hurt in a motorcycle crash, we are here to help. Get in touch with us by phone at 205-896-6410 or send us a message for your free, no-obligation consultation. From our Birmingham office, we represent motorcycle accident victims throughout the whole region, including in Jefferson County, Shelby County, and Walker County.