Car and Motorcycle Liability in Lane Splitting Accidents


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Motorcycle riders have one common reason why they choose this mode of transportation: motorbikes allow them to drive between two lanes to avoid being stuck in congested roads. However, lane splitting is one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in the US.  With this alarming trend, many states have already made this driving technique illegal.

This is not the case in California.  According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the state specifically permits lane splitting as long as this is performed in a "safe and prudent" manner.

Who is At-Fault in a Lane Splitting Accident?

In some states which prohibit lane splitting, any accident caused by this is considered to be the fault of a motorcycle rider. This is not the case in some states that allow lane splitting.  Motorcycle riders may file a personal injury lawsuit if they can prove that they have done lane splitting in “safe and prudent” way at the time of the accident.

In case the injured motorcycle riders prove that they were careful and it was the fault of another motorist, they can file claims against the reckless individual who caused the accident.

Another reason why it is important to determine who is at fault is that some insurance coverage only pays motorcycle drivers who are not reckless and negligent at the time of the accident.

Factors that Determine if the Rider Deserve Compensation

  • The motorcycle rider was carefully driving when he was hit by another car.  This means he was not over-speeding, weaving in and out of cars, or changing lanes without giving signal.
  • He is an experienced rider.
  • He enrolled in a motorcycle riding course that makes him more adept in riding.
  • The other motorist was more reckless than the motorcycle rider by doing dangerous maneuvers, changing lanes without signaling other drivers, over-speeding, and moving in a very unpredicted way.

Safe Lane Splitting

  • Be extra alert of other motorists.  This means no listening to music player or using any portable device.
  • Make sure all the lanes are moving slowly.  According to road safety experts, if one lane is moving faster than the other, vehicles are more likely to switch lanes and may hit a motorcycle rider who is lane splitting.
  • Be extra cautious when traveling in a vehicle’s blind spot.   (Bigger vehicles like trucks, motor homes, and trucks have bigger blind spot.)
  • Be able to predict if drivers are going to change lanes or not.  (Drivers who are looking into their side or rearview mirrors are more likely to change lanes.)
  • Get back into lane if the traffic has a speed of 30 mph and higher.
  • If the vehicles get too closely, honk at the drivers and wait until there is a safe distance to pass between them.
  • Wear a helmet.  According to a government data, motorcycle riders without helmet are 40 percent more likely to suffer from fatal head injury compared to those who are wearing head protection.

For more information about determining fault and getting compensation after a car accident, talk to an auto accident attorney and get a free consultation.

From the author: Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Attorney
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