Motorcycles are very different from passenger cars, trucks, and other larger motor vehicles. They are smaller, lighter, offer less protection from personal injury, handle differently on the road, and require a specific set of skills to operate safely. For these reasons, motorcycle riders must follow Indiana’s general traffic laws and laws specific to motorcycles.
If injured in an accident, it is important to contact an Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyer immediately. An attorney with our firm can help you understand more about Indianapolis motorcycle laws and your rights after a collision.
Indiana Motorcycle Licensing
To lawfully operate a motorcycle on Indiana’s streets and highways, a motorcyclist must hold a valid motorcycle endorsement on their Indiana driver’s license. There are two ways to obtain an endorsement, according to Ride Safe Indiana (RSI):
- Residents at least 16 years and 90 days of age who have a valid Indiana driver’s license must successfully complete an RSI-approved Motorcycle Safety Course and present their graduation document at their local Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). The Entry Level Safety Course provides 10 hours of practical riding instruction and teaches motorcycle basics, including types of motorcycles, basic layout and operation, and safety gear. More experienced riders can choose to take an Advanced Skills Motorcycle Training Course.
- Residents at least 16 years and 270 days of age can bypass the Motorcycle Safety Course if they choose. However, to obtain an endorsement, they must complete a written exam at their local BMV, a motorcycle riding skills exam at an RSI training location, and pass a standard vision screening exam.
Indiana Motorcycle Equipment Requirements
According to IC § 9-19-7-1, all motorcycle riders or operators traveling on the streets or highways who are under 18 years of age are legally required to:
- Wear a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet; and
- Wear protective goggles, glasses, or transparent face shields (a full-face helmet provides eye/face protection).
Motorcyclists who are 18 years old or older with a valid motorcycle endorsement are not required to wear a DOT-approved helmet or any helmet. However, the state highly encourages riders to wear a helmet, as it is a key piece of protection that can mean the difference between injury and death in the event of a crash.
Furthermore, the motorcycle itself must also have certain equipment to be lawfully driven along Indiana’s roads. A resident of Indiana may operate a motorcycle on its streets and highways if the motorcycle has:
- No higher than shoulder-height handlebars;
- Front and rear wheel brakes that are in good working order;
- Both operator and passenger footrests or pegs;
- DOT-approved lamps and reflectors;
- A rearview mirror;
- A speedometer; and
- Mechanical or electric turn signals.
There is an exception. According to IC § 9-19-7-2, a motorcycle manufactured before January 1, 1956 may still operate on Indiana roads without lamps and reflectors, a rearview mirror, speedometer, or turn signals.
Financial Responsibility for Accidents in Indianapolis
Any Indiana resident who registers or operates any motor vehicle on Indiana’s public roads must meet a minimum amount of financial responsibility in the form of liability insurance.
According to the Indiana Department of Insurance, you must have at least $25,000 for bodily injury or death to an individual, $50,000 for bodily injury or death to two or more individuals in a single accident, and $25,000 for property damage or destruction in a single accident. These minimums are also referred to as 25/50/25.
Motorcycle riders under age 18 must provide the BMV with an Agreement of Financial Liability signed by a parent or guardian.
Motorcycle Rules of the Road
In addition to Indiana traffic laws that apply to all motor vehicle drivers, motorcyclists must obey motorcycle-specific laws found in IC § 9-21-10, which include the following:
- A motorcycle that has only two wheels in contact with the ground may carry only one passenger and only on a firmly attached seat designed for passenger use;
- A motorcycle may not carry any passenger if said passenger interferes with the driver’s ability to operate the motorcycle or obstructs the view of the person operating the motorcycle;
- A motorcycle operator may not carry any package or bundle that prevents them from keeping both hands on the handlebars;
- Any rider of a motorcycle, whether an operator or a passenger, must sit astride the seat;
- Headlamps must be on while the motorcycle is in operation, day or night; and
- Motorcyclists are entitled to full use of a traffic lane, but with rider consent, may also travel two abreast within one lane.
According to IN § 9-21-10-6, lane-splitting is illegal, not to mention dangerous, in Indiana. If you’re lane-splitting, you could be in other drivers’ blind spots. As a result, you may suffer crushing injuries, broken bones, or traumatic brain injuries if they try to switch lanes or drift into another lane and strike you. Avoid riding between lanes—pick one and stay in it.
No Aggressive Driving
The rules of the road apply to you just as much as they do it everyone else. That means no aggressive driving. According to IC § 9-21-8-55, committing at least three of the following behaviors constitute aggressive driving.
- Unsafe stopping or slowing down
- Repeatedly flashing your lights
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Failure to yield
- Failure to obey traffic control
- Overtaking another vehicle on the right and driving off the road
- Unnecessarily honking your horn
Indiana outlaws all forms of unsafe driving. For motorcycle riders, that also includes doing wheelies. Keep both wheels on the ground at all times.
Indianapolis Motorcycle Accidents
According to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, there were more than 1,800 injuries and 100 fatalities resulting from motorcycle collisions in Indiana in 2019.
If you or a loved one sustained physical harm or property damages in a crash on Highway 60, Interstate 70, or anywhere else in Indianapolis, our firm can help you seek compensation from the liable party.
Damages You Can Seek Following a Motorcycle Crash
You have the right to seek financial awards for damages stemming from another driver’s negligent actions. If you qualify for an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, we can help you recover:
- Past and future medical expenses, including the cost of emergency transportation and treatment, hospitalizations, doctor fees, physical therapy and rehabilitation, medications, medical devices and equipment, and any other necessary treatment related to your accident
- Pain and suffering, including monetary awards for physical pain, emotional suffering, mental anguish, depression, anxiety, and loss of enjoyment of life
- Lost wages, including benefits, tips, bonuses, and loss of your future earning capacity if your injuries prevent you from returning to your previous job
- Property damages, including motorcycle repair or replacement costs
- Wrongful death compensation, including awards for your loved one’s medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, lost income, and loss of the deceased’s care, love, support, and guidance
Contact Sevenish Law Firm, P.C.
As an avid motorcyclist with over 35 years of legal experience, attorney Randall Sevenish knows the importance of following the law while riding. Unfortunately, all the safety education, rider training, and defensive driving in the world may not protect you from the negligent actions of other motorists who do not know how to share the road with motorcycles.
As a dedicated Indiana motorcycle law lawyer, as well as an experienced rider, Randy Sevenish and his team have the necessary knowledge and resources to help injured victims recover so they can get back on their bikes. We offer free consultations and can take your case on contingency. Contact us to learn more. Don’t wait too long to reach out to us since IC § 34-11-2-4 and IC § 34-23-1-1 enforce strict deadlines for filing lawsuits.