Motorcycles that are lane-splitting on a highway.

Does Lane-Splitting Cause Motorcycle Accidents in California?

Motorcyclists in California can drive between two lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction. In other words, a motorcyclist has a definite advantage in a traffic jam because the rider can continue moving between two lanes of traffic. The practice is referred to as lane-splitting. However, opponents of lane-splitting assert that it increases the risk of motorcycle accidents. Our California motorcycle accident attorney discusses the risk and who is responsible for lane-splitting accidents in this article.

Does California Have a Lane-Splitting Law?

California did not legalize lane splitting. It simply does not have a law that prohibits it. Since there is not a law prohibiting motorcyclists from passing another vehicle in the same lane traveling in the same direction, many people assume that the state enacted a law that specifically authorizes lane-splitting or lane sharing. 

What did occur was that Gov. Brown signed Assembly Bill 51 in 2016, which defined lane-splitting for motorcycles. It also gave the California Highway Patrol the authority to develop safety guidelines for lane-splitting

California is the only state that currently does not prohibit motorcycle lane sharing. Even though lane splitting may be legal in California, motorcyclists can be charged with other traffic infractions while lane sharing, such as following too close, speeding, and unsafe lane changes. 

Does Lane Splitting Increase the Number of Motorcycle Accidents?

Proponents of a lane-splitting claim that the practice does not increase accidents. Opponents claim the exact opposite. What little data is available about motorcycle lane sharing is inclusive. What we do know is that lane-splitting can lead to traffic accidents, but so can all other types of traffic behavior.

What we are more concerned with, in a lane-splitting accident, is determining how the accident occurred because that also determines who is liable for the accident. 

Who Is Responsible for a Lane-Splitting Motorcycle Accident? 

As with all other traffic accidents, police officers investigate the accident to determine whether one or more drivers were “at fault” for the crash. The officer’s determination of fault is an opinion used to decide whether to issue traffic citations to one or more drivers. Fault could actually be much more complicated, and sometimes officers make incorrect assumptions at an accident scene.

An accident attorney conducts a comprehensive accident investigation to gather all evidence and facts relevant to the crash. In some cases, experts may be required to analyze the information and evidence to determine the exact cause of the crash. Determining the exact cause of the crash is crucial because California is a pure comparative negligence state. 

Any fault assigned to a party in an accident reduces the amount of compensation that a party can receive for damages. Therefore, each party needs evidence proving the other party is completely at fault or mostly at fault for the motorcycle crash to maximize the amount of compensation the party can receive for injuries, losses, and damages.

The motorcyclist, another driver, or a third party could be at fault for a lane-splitting accident, or they could share fault. Because motorcyclists who engage in lane sharing can be viewed negatively by other motorists as reckless or careless, insurance companies may try to automatically blame a rider for an accident that is not his fault if he was lane-splitting at the time of the crash. Hiring an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help improve your chance of recovering the compensation you deserve if you were injured in a motorcycle accident. 

Contact a California Personal Injury Attorney for More Information 

Motorcycle accidents can result in traumatic injuries and significant financial losses. Our California personal injury attorney can help you investigate the crash, gather evidence proving fault, and fight for fair compensation for your injury claim. Contact a California motorcycle accident lawyer today.