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The Legality and Liability of Laying the Bike Down

As a motorcyclist, when you’re telling a story about that time you had to lay the bike down to avoid a collision, what are some of the most frequent responses you get from your audience?

"Wow, dude!"

"You did what? That’s sick!"

"You’re a lucky guy/girl to walk away from that."

But what’s the most commonly-uttered phrase by someone who has just lain the bike down?


That’s one of the hard truths about motorcycles: there may come a time when you have no choice but to lay the bike down and turn your skin into road pizza if you want to avoid slamming into another vehicle. And yes – sometimes it happens because of those idiot cagers who act like they own the road and aren’t looking where they’re going.

But who is held liable when you lay the bike down? You? Or the moron behind the wheel of the car or truck?

The answer really depends on the circumstances of the motorcycle accident. If another motorist places you in what is known as "imminent risk" of harm, you have the right to take action to avoid that harm. So if a car swerves into your lane and you lay the bike down to avoid being hit, then the chances are good that the car’s driver would be held accountable for your injuries.

But if this happens in the left lane of a three-lane thoroughfare, and you could have swerved safely, then the blame for your fate might lie in your own hands. The same goes for you laying the bike down behind a truck stopped at a red light because you weren’t paying enough attention to start your braking soon enough to avoid a collision.

So while motorcyclists sometimes have good cause to lay the bike down, nothing is a good substitute for careful driving habits. And really, bike trips are usually more fun if you stay out of the emergency room.

Contact Naqvi Injury Law for more information.