Motorcycle speeding down on an empty country road from over rider"u2019s point of view. Focus is on the motorbike with road motion blurred

Riding a Motorcycle in California: What are Your Rights, and What Can You Do if You Are Injured While Riding?

California is a beautiful state home to scenic vistas and breathtaking scenery. No wonder it is one of the most popular states for motorcyclists to tour! With all the motorcyclists in California, it is unfortunately all too common for them to be hit by other drivers. Fortunately for injured motorcyclists, California has some of the strongest and broadest protections for motorcyclists in the United States. Unfortunately for motorcyclists, insurance companies still work very hard to minimize the payouts for claims of injured California motorcyclists.

At J&Y Law, we know how serious motorcycle injuries are, as well as how complicated California’s motorcycle laws and navigating insurance company trickery can be. This post is intended to provide some general information about the rights of California motorcyclists and how hiring a personal injury attorney is one of the best decisions you can make if you are injured while motorcycling in California.

In California, motorcyclists are allowed to engage in a practice known as motorcycle lane splitting. This occurs when a motorcycle drives between two lanes of traffic that are moving in the same direction, such as between two cars, each in their own lanes, traveling north on the same highway. Many people have the misconception that this is illegal, however that is not the case.

In fact, motorcycles have several special road privileges that drivers of other vehicles do not but must respect. They can:

  • Travel between two lanes of traffic
  • Move back and forth from a lane to the in-between lanes position
  • Travel faster than other cars while in between lanes

One of the reasons California allows this practice is that it actually makes the roads safer. Lane splitting allows motorcycles to get out of the way of larger cars, trucks, or semis quickly and avert accidents. It also allows then to act fast in the event a car brakes suddenly, something we all know happens quite frequently from out own travel experiences.

Another common practice is lane sharing, which occurs when two motorcycles drive side by side in the same lane of traffic, such that they are sharing the lane together. This practice is legal in California on bigger roads where there are at least two lanes of traffic which move in the same direction. On these roads, lane sharing is allowed whether it is two motorcycles side by side or a motorcycle and passenger vehicle riding side by side.


In short, California recognizes that motorcyclists have as much a right to the road as other vehicles. Unfortunately, drivers of cars and other vehicles often look down on motorcyclists as nuisances or distractions. This attitude often has dangerous results, as these drivers tend to treat motorcyclists with less respect, given them less room, and make accidents more likely.

If you are a motorcyclist and are hit by another car, you have options. At J&Y Law, our personal injury attorneys are experienced representing motorcyclists and presenting a strong case that the driver of a vehicle who hit you acted negligently. We know how severe motorcycle injuries can be, and our experienced attorneys at J&Y Law are ready to fight for you and the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to learn more.