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Lane splitting involves moving between two lanes of stopped or slow-moving vehicles. The practice is often used so that a rider can avoid sitting in traffic congestion and is regarded by many traffic experts as a safer alternative to parking between stopped vehicles. Other experts, however, state that the practice is dangerous, as drivers trapped in congestion might not realize there is a motorcycle traveling alongside them and could cause an accident when they begin moving again. 

Regardless of who is right in the debate about lane splitting, the practice is generally legal in California, with some conditions. While this doesn’t mean that another roadway user is always to blame when lane splitting accidents occur, it also doesn’t mean that the rider was breaking the law for lane splitting. Here is a look at some of the factors that go into determining who is liable for a lane split motorcycle accident.

Conditions for Lane Splitting in California

California’s traffic laws allow motorcyclists to lane split as long as it is safe to do so. Safely lane splitting includes:

  • Making sure that the lanes on the roadway are wide enough to provide space for the motorcyclist to move between lines of vehicles.
  • The rider avoids weaving in and out of lanes.
  • The flow of traffic is under 30 miles per hour and the motorcyclist is moving no more than 10 miles an hour faster than the flow of traffic.

Because lane splitting is legal, other roadway users are prohibited from deliberately blocking or impeding a rider who is attempting to lane split by opening their door, moving their vehicle to close the gap between the adjacent traffic lane, or other actions. Additionally, if the driver causes an accident through negligence, such as attempting to change lanes without ensuring a safe space to do so, they can be responsible for compensating the rider for the physical injury and property damage they cause.

Determining Liability in a Motorcycle Accident

The term liability refers to the legal responsibility that an individual has to compensate those who have incurred physical harm or property damage as a result of their actions. The elements of liability include:

  • Duty of care: All roadway users have a duty of care, which is to take reasonable actions to protect others from harm. These actions include operating their vehicle safely and legally. 
  • Breach of duty: If a driver or rider takes a careless action such as changing lanes without ensuring a traffic lane is clear or even deliberately opening a door to impede a lane-splitting motorcyclist, they have breached their legal duty of care.
  • Causation: It must be shown that the driver’s or rider’s careless or reckless actions resulted in the accident and the motorcyclist’s injuries.

Some examples of a driver can be liable for a motorcycle accident include scenarios where they change lanes or merge into a lane without ensuring that there is not a rider sharing the lane with them, or if the driver suddenly changes direction and causes the rider to lose their balance. A driver can also cause a lane split motorcycle accident by swerving over the lane divider into the motorcyclist’s path. A rider can be liable for a lane split accident if they fail to gauge a safe space in which to pass between two lanes of traffic, they attempt to lane split when traffic is moving faster than 30 miles per hour, or they are traveling faster than 10 miles per hour more than the flow of traffic.

One of the many services an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can provide to assist you with your claim is to help you determine all sources of liability for your accident and their relevant liability insurance policies that can be accessed in order to provide you with compensation. Other services provided by an attorney in the personal injury claims process include valuing the claim, communicating with the at-fault party’s insurance provider in order to negotiate a settlement, filing a lawsuit within the state’s two-year statute of limitations, and gathering the evidence, witness testimony, and documentation needed to prove liability and justify the claim’s value.

What Are Your Rights if a Driver Injures You in a Lane Splitting Accident?

If you were injured in a lane split motorcycle accident caused by a negligent driver, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries through California’s personal injury claims process. This process generally involves first filing a claim against the at-fault party’s auto liability insurance policy. When the insurance provider receives the claim, they will assign it to a claims adjuster. The adjuster’s job is to analyze the claim and determine how much (if any) compensation is owed to the claimant. 

If the at-fault party’s insurance provider fails to either pay the full value of the claim or enter into a settlement agreement with the claimant that provides less compensation than the value of the claim, a lawsuit can be filed in civil court in order for a judge or jury to determine who was liable for the accident and the amount of compensation that is owed to the claimant.

In California, in order to protect the claimant’s right to use the court process to seek compensation for the monetary and psychological costs of their injury, the lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date on which the accident occurred.

Lane Split Motorcycle Accident in California? Kash Legal Can Help

Even as the debate continues as to whether motorcyclists are safer being allowed to lane split or prohibited from the activity, the law remains on the books. Motorcyclists can lane split, provided they do so safely. However, even safe riders are at risk when sharing a roadway with negligent drivers. Let an experienced motorcycle accident attorney from Kash Legal help you understand the personal injury claims process and provide guidance and assistance as you seek the compensation you need after becoming injured in a lane split motorcycle accident.

For your free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (888) 527-4128. We have earned millions for the injured in California by fighting tirelessly for our clients, whether through settlement negotiations or litigation.

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