Your right to make an insurance claim depends on both liability and coverage. California requires that drivers have an insurance policy on their vehicles to protect them from liability and other people from financial losses if they cause a crash. Liability also affects the right to file a civil lawsuit after a collision.
However, sometimes each party involved in a collision is partially responsible. California has a pure comparative negligence rule that applies to personal injury claims. If the courts determine that a plaintiff has a certain percentage of fault for the crash, that percentage of fault reduces the award they ultimately receive.
As a motorcyclist, you have a greater risk for a serious crash than many other people on the road. If you split lanes right before a collision occurs, will that prevent you from getting compensation for your injuries and the damage to your motorcycle?
Lane splitting is legal under California law
Lane splitting is the driving practice of entering the same lane of traffic that another vehicle already occupies. Bigger vehicles usually can’t split lanes, but a motorcycle could slip past a larger vehicle in the same lane safely in many cases.
California is currently the only state with a statute on the books that officially makes lane splitting legal. In other words, just the fact that you tried to maneuver through traffic on a motorcycle in California won’t necessarily lead to a successful claim of comparative negligence by the party who caused the crash. They would need to instead show that you were negligent or irresponsible in your lane splitting practices to convince the courts to reduce the amount of compensation awarded to you.
Motorcyclists often incur massive losses in crashes
Riding a motorcycle is fun and exhilarating. It’s also an economical and more environmentally friendly transportation option than most enclosed motor vehicles. Unfortunately, motorcycles also come with much more significant risks. Other people may fail to spot you on the road and cause a crash that results in life-altering injuries for you.
Especially when maneuvering aggressively, it’s important to use defensive driving techniques and to carefully monitor the behavior of the drivers around you. Understanding what laws may affect your right to compensation after a motorcycle crash in California will help you get the support you need.