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Lane splitting is legal in California. If you were injured on a motorcycle while properly moving between two vehicles, a San Francisco motorcycle accident attorney can help you establish your claim against the parties responsible for your injuries.

At Allegiance Law our skilled personal injury attorneys know how to successfully argue on behalf of California motorcycle accident victims injured while legally lane splitting. 

What is Lane Splitting and is it Legal Everywhere?

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) defines lane splitting as the practice of driving a 2-wheeled motorcycle between two rows of stopped or moving vehicles. The practice had been tolerated by law enforcement for years and in 2017 the California Legislature made it legal. 

Proponents argue that lane splitting helps to ease traffic congestion. Those against the maneuver point to a greater risk for accidents as motorcycles attempt to navigate their way between vehicles with drivers who are often already distracted by the traffic situation. 

At this time California is the only state that has enacted law-making lane splitting legal. It is still illegal in most states. However, the practice is endorsed by the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) and a few other states are considering legislation on the subject. 

Safe Performance of Lane Splitting

In order to reduce the likelihood of accidents, the CHP offers some tips to motorcyclists who engage in lane splitting. 

  • Make sure to consider the type and size of vehicles around you, the weather, and other road conditions in the area you are driving.
  • Consider your speed relative to the speed of other vehicles – traveling at higher rates of speed is more dangerous.
  • Keep in mind lane-splitting between the far left lanes is generally safer.
  • Try to be as visible as possible so that other motorists can see what you are doing (wear reflective clothing, have a headlight on).
  • Driving on the shoulder is not legal – so don’t do it.

CHP also reminds drivers of other vehicles that lane splitting is legal on the public roads of California and a spirit of cooperation is recommended. 

Responsibility for Motorcycle Accidents Related to Lane Splitting

Motorcycle riders in California cite two main reasons for lane splitting according to KQED.org – speed and safety. Lane splitting allows motorcycles to move through traffic more efficiently and removes the very real threat of being rear-ended in stopped or slow-moving traffic. A majority of non-motorcycle drivers, on the other hand, do not favor lane splitting and believe the practice to be unsafe.

Thus when an accident occurs, there may be serious contention as to which party did what contributed to or caused the accident. Because lane splitting is legal in California there is no presumption of wrongdoing on the part of the motorcyclist. The actions of all vehicle drivers will be taken into consideration in determining if and how much a motorcycle accident victim can recover. 

Ability to Recover in Lane Splitting Accidents

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident while lane splitting you have the right to recover for your injuries and other related expenses subject to the amount of fault you have for the accident. California law assigns a percentage of responsibility to each party for their comparative fault in the accident. If you are injured but found to have had 15% responsibility for causing the accident then you may only recover up to 85% of your losses. 

The determination of responsibility comes down to convincing the judge that your injuries were not the result of your own behavior. Therefore, it is essential that you work with a lawyer who knows how to present the facts of your case so that you are able to receive the greatest possible recovery. 

The personal injury lawyers at Allegiance Law have represented hundreds of motorcycle accident victims. We have the experience and expertise to present your case in the way that will be interpreted most favorably on your behalf. Contact us here or call 415-404-6395 now to schedule your free appointment with a San Francisco motorcycle accident attorney.

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