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How Lane Splitting Laws Impact Comparative Negligence in California

Tuesday, April 03, 2018By Nina Shapirshteyn

One of the most controversial topics in motorcycle safety is lane splitting. Lane splitting is defined as riding a motorcycle between stopped or moving cars along the lane line on both divided and undivided roads. Motorists generally disapprove of the practice since it presents an additional driving hazard. Motorcyclists, on the other hand, contend that lane splitting enhances motorcycle safety since it lowers the risk that a motorcyclist will be hit when traffic has come to a halt.

California and Lane-Splitting Legislation

California has the distinction of being the only state to make motorcycle lane splitting legal as of 2016. The statute directs the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to supplement the law with safety guidelines for lane splitting while operating a motorcycle. These may include refraining from riding at a speed that is more than 10 mph faster than other traffic and avoiding lane splitting when traffic is steadily moving at a speed of 30 mph or faster.

Accident Liability and Lane Splitting

Accidents that involve lane-splitting present interesting issues of liability in personal injury lawsuits in California. Normally, comparative negligence in California works like this: a person who is injured in a car or motorcycle accident and is partially at fault will see a reduction in his award as determined by the percentage of fault that is attributed to him. So, in California, a person who is the majority at fault can still bring an action and recover an award.

The legalization of lane-splitting could affect the allocation of liability in litigation following accidents between motorcycles and cars. When a motorcyclist is injured in an accident with a motorist, he may not be determined to be partially liable simply because he engaged in lane-splitting. Determining the motorcyclists’ liability would entail an analysis of whether he followed other safety regulations. This would require a close look at how much fault should be allocated to each of a number of factors aside from lane-splitting. Perhaps the motorcyclist was speeding or inattentive to road conditions. Any of these factors could ultimately play a part in the jury verdict and the amount the motorcyclist could recover in litigation.

If you or a member of your family was injured in an accident involving a motorcycle, contact Alexander Law Group, LLC. Our exceptional personal injury lawyers will be sure you get the maximum compensation possible. Call 888.777.1776, or contact us online.

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