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Does lane splitting make you at fault for your motorcycle wreck?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2022 | Motorcycle Accidents |

Motorcycle crashes can make a bike unrideable and leave you with major injuries. Not only will you need to replace your vehicle, but you will likely also need to replace some of your safety gear, which can easily use up all of the property damage liability coverage of the other driver.

The injuries you suffer will lead to hospital bills, and you could lose income during your convalescence. You may need to file an insurance claim to recoup your losses. In fact, you may even need to take the other driver to court.

In a civil lawsuit, the defendant could use a claim of comparative negligence to avoid responsibility. Essentially, they try to prove that you caused or contributed to the situation to limit their own liability for what happened. If the crash occurred while you were lane splitting, will your driving maneuvers hurt your case in court?

Lane splitting is legal in California

Motorcycles are so much smaller than enclosed vehicles that it is quite easy for two of them to share a lane. In fact, motorcycles can also sometimes maneuver through a lane occupied by a larger, enclosed motor vehicle. Lane-splitting is legal in California, meaning it won’t lead to a traffic stop or to the courts assigning comparative negligence to the person on the motorcycle hurt by a collision.

The simple act of lane splitting won’t result in an allocation of comparative negligence or a percentage of responsibility for the crash that occurred. Instead, the defendant will need to show that you behaved in an obviously unsafe way or violated traffic laws somehow.

Lane splitting does require more care from riders

The people in bigger vehicles often have a hard time spotting motorcycles nearby. Lane splitting might exacerbate this existing risk factor. If someone sees one motorcycle or vehicle in a lane nearby, they may not look carefully and spot the second vehicle. A driver could potentially merge or turn into you because of your lane splitting.

Taking time to double-check traffic conditions around you when you have recently split a lane with another vehicle or intend to could help you avoid a crash. Understanding when your maneuvers affect your rights in civil court can help you feel empowered about making a claim after a motorcycle crash.

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