Lane-Splitting: Don’t Let Them Tell You a Crash Is Your Fault
Lane-splitting in California is legal. That’s right – California is the only state in the U.S. that has officially recognized and encouraged the practice of motorcyclists passing between two lanes of traffic.
Many drivers are unaware of this fact and wrongly accuse motorcyclists of reckless or illegal driving when they hit someone who was legally lane-splitting. If you were involved in a crash while lane-splitting on your motorcycle, you are probably NOT at fault – no matter what they tell you!
A motorcycle accident is perilous for the rider, who is thrown onto the roadway and often suffers severe injuries, or is hit by other vehicles moving in the adjoining lane. The injuries can be life-threatening, and leaving the rider unable to work and earn a living, while undergoing months of medical treatment and rehabilitation. The responsible driver must be held accountable. If you were hit by another vehicle while lane-splitting, you need a top Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorney to dig deep and get the facts.
Safe Practices for Lane-Splitting
While lane-splitting is entirely legal, there are several points of safe-practice that you should follow, both for your own safety and to prevent any liability. The California Highway Patrol published a list of tips, which include:
- Consider the total environment when you are lane-splitting – including the width of lanes, the size of surrounding vehicles, as well as current roadway, weather, and lighting conditions.
- The danger increases at higher speeds.
- It is typically safer to split between the far left lanes than between the other lanes of traffic.
- Avoid lane-splitting next to large vehicles (big rigs, buses, motorhomes, etc.).
- Riding on the shoulder is illegal; it is not considered lane-splitting.
- Be visible – avoid the blind spots of other vehicles. Move quickly between two vehicles when lane-splitting.
- Help drivers see you by wearing brightly colored/reflective protective gear and using high beams during daylight.
Maintaining safe practices while lane-splitting could save your life. Following the above and other guidelines not only protects you but can protect your rights should you be involved in an accident.
Comparative Negligence in California
Even if you are partially at fault for a crash, you have rights. California maintains a comparative negligence law, which means that you can recover damages in an accident even when you are partly responsible for your injuries.
In these cases, the insurance company or jury decides on the percentage of fault of each party. For example:
Joe is riding his motorcycle and lane-splitting when he is hit by Bill, who is driving a passenger car. Joe suffers from severe road rash, several broken bones, and his motorcycle was totaled. The insurance covers some of the costs, but Joe decides to sue Bill for damages amounting to $100,000. In the trial, Bill’s defense attorney asserts that Joe was speeding and, therefore, partially responsible for the accident. The jury agrees and finds that Joe was 25% responsible because he was speeding. In this case, Joe may still be able to recover $75,000 in a jury award.
No matter what happened, if you’ve been in an accident while riding a motorcycle, call an attorney. Don’t listen to accusations that you were at fault – no matter what you are told, you are likely not at fault in a lane-splitting accident and have the right to pursue full compensation. Call Aghabegian & Associates, PC, at (818) 507-4311 to get a top Los Angeles personal injury attorney on your side.
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