State Motorcycle Law

Legal Counsel that Understands California's Motorcycle Law

A number of rules regulate motorcycle riding in California. Failure to abide by these rules can result in a motorcyclist losing some of the compensation he may need if he gets into a serious motorcycle accident in Los Angeles. Following state motorcycle law can be a sound strategy to reduce accidents as well as the severity of injuries that arise because of them. If you are hurt in a motorcycle accident in Southern California, the experienced personal injury attorneys of Sharifi Firm, APC may be able to help you recover the greatest possible damages through a civil suit.

California Motorcycle Helmet Law

A universal helmet law went into effect in California in 1992. No other safety gear need be worn, but under California Vehicle Code section 27803, motorcycle bikers do have to wear a safety helmet that is approved and fits the wearer's head securely. Motorcyclists' passengers must also wear a proper helmet.

If you're riding a motorcycle as a driver or a passenger in violation of the helmet law and you get into an accident, the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit arising out of the accident is likely to raise pure comparative negligence. This means that the jury will not only consider the total damages, but also your own degree of fault. For example, if your total damages are $200,000, but the jury finds that you were 50% at fault because you were not wearing a helmet, you will only be able to recover $100,000.

California Lane Splitting

One of the most contentious issues in motorcycle law in California, is the lack of a law governing the practice known as "lane splitting." This is the practice by which a motorcycle passes another vehicle driving in the same direction by passing or driving alongside the other vehicle in the same lane. No other state permits lane splitting. In California, the California Highway Patrol had posted guidelines about lane splitting, but because they were misinterpreted as controlling laws, these guidelines were removed.

Even though they are no longer offered by the CHP on its website, following the lane splitting guidelines is one way to reduce accidents. Under those guidelines motorcyclists were only to split lanes where they were not driving 10 miles per hour faster than the cars they were driving alongside and those cars were driving at less than 30 miles per hour. This is because the risk of an accident increases the faster the vehicles are driving. The CHP guidelines also stated that it was safer to split between the two farthest left lanes than other lanes. These guidelines also stated that if you couldn't fit, you shouldn't try to split lanes.

There is no California law that prohibits lane splitting at present. In some cases, drivers are not aware of this and may try to stop a motorcycle from lane splitting. This is dangerous and can result in severe injuries to a motorcyclist. A motorcyclist that is injured while lane splitting in conditions where it seems safe to do so under the former guidelines promulgated by the CHP can argue that he or she was not comparatively negligent. All people are supposed to act reasonably when operating their vehicles, and in many situations, lane splitting is a reasonable choice. However, under California Vehicle Code section 22350, it is unlawful to drive any vehicle on the highway at a speed unreasonable for the given traffic conditions. Certain juries, particularly those that do not have any motorcycle riders on them, may be biased against you as a motorcyclist for zipping along and lane splitting in rush hour traffic, and attribute some or all the fault for an accident to you. We can do our best to change a jury's perception of events, but this bias is simply something to keep in mind.

Consult a Riverside Attorney Knowledgeable About California Motorcycle Law

It is important to retain an attorney who understands and is sympathetic to motorcycle culture in California, including issues like lane splitting and the helmet law. If you were seriously injured or a loved one was killed in a motorcycle crash in Riverside, let our experienced attorneys sue the responsible parties. We are knowledgeable about state motorcycle law and represent accident victims in Rancho Cucamonga, Temecula, and San Bernardino. We present your strongest arguments to insurers and juries. Contact us at 1-866-422-7222 or via our online form for a free, no-obligation consultation.


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