Who Is At Fault for an Accident Involving Motorcycle Lane-Splitting in California?

It is now legal for motorcycles to split lanes in California. Does this mean that if a motorcycle accident occurs while the rider is lane splitting, that they cannot be found at fault? It does not. Keep reading to learn more about how fault is determined in lane splitting accidents, then contact Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 for a free legal consultation.

This is Easier to Determine in Other States

As of today, California is the only state in the country that does not prohibit lane splitting. As a result, if a person is involved in a car accident in any other state with a motorcycle who is lane splitting, then the motorcycle driver is breaking the law. As a result, regardless of the rest of the specifics it is likely that the motorcycle driver will be found at least partially at fault for the accident.

Lane Splitting is Safe According to Various Studies

First of all, it is important to note that lane-splitting has been found to be safe by various studies. For example, UC Berkeley completed a study that found that lane splitting in heavy traffic resulted in motorcycle riders being less likely to be hit from behind and less likely to suffer head injuries or torso injuries. The study looked at 997 motorcycle injuries and found that the drivers who were lane-splitting suffered significantly less severe injuries, on average, than those who were not lane splitting.

When you add to this the fact that traffic congestion is one of the top causes of motorcycle accidents, it is easy to see that lane splitting – when it is done correctly – can help lower the chance that a rider is injured or killed.

The Safest Times to Lane Split

Does this mean that it is always safe to lane split? No. According to the study above, it only helps if the motorcycle rider is doing it safely. They stated that the safer times to lane split are situations in which congested traffic is not moving faster than 50 miles per hour and the motorcycle is not going more than 15 miles per hour faster than the traffic around them.

Fault Depends on Negligence

Due to the legality of lane splitting in California, who is at fault in a motorcycle and car accident is entirely based on who was negligent. If the motorcyclist was engaging in safe lane splitting and a vehicle changed lanes quickly without signaling, a resulting accident would likely be the fault of the car driver. On the other hand, if traffic is moving at 20 miles per hour and a motorcycle speeds past at 50 miles per hour, then the motorcyclist is likely to be at fault for accidents.

To learn more about your particular case and to request a free legal consultation, contact Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 right away.