Lane-splitting is a term that is used to describe the practice of motorcyclists riding between traffic lanes. It has been a controversial topic for decades especially in Southern California where motorcyclists ride year-round because of the good weather we have here. When you look at the clogged roadways and freeways in the Southland, it is easy to understand why motorcyclists split lanes to get around all the stalled traffic.
The Legality of Lane-Splitting
However, lane-splitting is not illegal in California like it is in a number of other states. The practice is widely gaining acceptance especially after the passage of AB 51 in 2016, which legalized lane-splitting by motorcyclists, if done safely. The law went into effect in 2017. Before this law passed, California was silent on issue and it was essentially a “gray area.”
California Highway Patrol issued guidelines on lane-splitting that instructs motorcyclists to travel under 10 mph faster than other traffic and not to split lanes when the flow of traffic is at 30 mph or faster. The guidelines also list when not to split lanes and suggestions for other motorists to be conscious that they are sharing the roadway with motorcyclists.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
As with any type of auto accident in California, if you are the plaintiff in a motorcycle accident case, you must prove that the defendant acted recklessly or negligently in causing the accident. This also means that the injured motorcyclist will be required to present evidence to show that that he or she was operating the motorcycle safely and that the driver of the other vehicle failed to exercise due care and caution. Examples of negligent driving include unsafe lane changes, driving while distracted or impaired, etc.
In motorcycle accident cases that involve lane-splitting, however, it is possible that the defendant might argue that the motorcyclist was also partially to blame for the accident and might bring up the issue of lane-splitting as an act of negligence. But, in such cases, the law is now on the motorcyclist's side. It is important to remember that even if there was some negligence on the part of the motorcyclist, he or she can still bring a successful lawsuit against a negligent motorist.
Contacting a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is important that you make sure and file a police report. Get a copy of the police report for your own records. Collect as much evidence as possible from the accident scene. Do not repair your motorcycle until it has been thoroughly examined by an accident reconstruction expert. Get contact information for anyone who might have witnessed the collision and can corroborate your account of how it occurred.
Secure prompt medical attention, care and treatment for any injuries you may have sustained. Preserve all invoices and receipts of expenses related to your motorcycle accident. Contact an experienced Orange County motorcycle accident lawyer who will stay on top of the investigation and help ensure that you receive maximum compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.