California Lane Splitting Motorcycle Accidents

Did you know that there are more motorcycles registered in California than any other state? The reason for this is simple-- our combination of wonderful weather and lots of scenic roadways. The 405, 10, 101, and of course Pacific Coast Highway all make for great riding almost any day of the week. Of course motorcycle riders are not alone in their use and enjoyment of California roadways and the often crowded roads are worked around by riding in and out of lanes-- a practice known as lane splitting which is not illegal in California and the source of many motorcycle injuries and deaths.

California Lane Splitting Motorcycle Rules

The California Department of Motor Vehicles no longer provides guidelines on what is considered safe or unsafe lane splitting tactics but does provide some safety reminders for those riders that choose to lane split:

  • Blind spots: The bigger the car, the bigger the blind spot and every vehicle has blind spots so keep that in mind whenever you are riding your motorcycle.
  • Assume they don't see you: Riding a motorcycle in and out of lanes you should assume that the other drivers do not see you and act accordingly. 
  • Watch your speed: The ability to move in and out of lanes especially when cars are stuck in traffic means that you can go faster than you probably should, increasing the likelihood for serious injuries or death.

California Lane Splitting Motorcycle Injuries

 Most states outlaw lane splitting outright which then requires a motorcycle rider to ride in a lane like any other car or truck and when there is traffic, they are sitting in traffic too. The appeal of lane splitting in California is obvious-- it is a way to keep moving when all the cars around you aren't. The problem is that cars and trucks are not looking out for this quick maneuvering and can quickly and easily side swipe a motorcycle rider, causing serious injuries or death. While lane splitting is not expressly prohibited, the California Highway Patrol can still cite and ticket a rider for unsafe practices.

When an motorcycle accident happens when a rider is lane splitting, who is responsible? This is a complicated question because it requires proving that the other car or truck acted negligently in the process. At the most basic level, proving this requires showing that they had a duty to the motorcycle rider, they broke that duty and in doing so caused damages. Here's a look at a common scenario of how this can play out in a California motorcycle personal injury or wrongful death case:

  • The driver had a duty of the motorcycle rider: A car or truck driver has a duty to look and use their turn signal when they are changing lanes. This is an extremely common driving duty that is neglected by far too many-- some are driving recklessly and not thinking about turn signals, some think no one is around and don't do it and others simply forget. Whatever the reason for the failure to signal, this is nevertheless an important duty.
  • The driver breached their duty: Failing to signal and hitting a motorcycle rider would make the driver at least partially responsible for the motorcycle accident.
  • Damages/Injuries: Unlike a car or truck driver that can walk away from accident totally fine, motorcycle rides are usually not as lucky. The exposed nature of the motorcycle means that at the very least a rider will have some scrapes and bruises but most likely, much more extensive injuries. What a motorcycle accident case is worth has to do with the % of fault attributed to the  other party, the extent of injures and property damage and also the larger impact the accident has on the riders life. For instance, does the rider now have some sort or paralysis, missed work time or inability to work? All these things go into coming up with a figure.

 Have you been injured in a California motorcycle accident and not sure what your legal options are? Give Walch Law a call today to discuss your case further. Lane splitting and other types of motorcycle accidents happen everyday in California and we can help get you compensated for your injuries, the damage to your bike and much much more. We are available 24/7 and take all our cases on a contingency fee basis meaning you don't pay us anything until we get you paid. 

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