What You Need to Know About Lane Splitting in California

-Posted On February 7, 2022 In Motorcycle Accidents-

Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist travels between lanes, rather than riding in the same lane as motor vehicles. A popular tactic for navigating traffic gridlock, lane splitting is a controversial practice.

Laws governing lane splitting vary from state to state. While many states prohibit motorcyclists from engaging in this behavior, California does not have any law forbidding lane splitting. However, motorcyclists who are injured while lane splitting can face unique challenges during an insurance claim or lawsuit.

California’s Lane Splitting Laws

In California, all motorcyclists have a duty to follow the rules of the road and operate their vehicles safely. In regard to lane splitting, California does not have any laws against this practice.

However, the state does warn motorcyclists to use caution while engaging in this behavior. In fact, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) issued a press release in 2018 with tips on how to stay safe while lane splitting, which include the following.

  • Lane splitting becomes more dangerous at overall speed increases and greater speed differentials.
  • It is typically safer to lane split between lanes on the far left of a road rather than the far right.
  • Motorcyclists should increase visibility while lane splitting by wearing bright-colored or reflective gear, using high beams, and avoiding blind spots.
  • Riding on the shoulder is illegal and the state does not consider this practice to be the same as lane splitting.
  • Consider the environmental conditions before lane splitting, such as weather and riding conditions.

While these tips can help motorcyclists stay safe, the CHP warns that safety is not guaranteed. Lane splitting places motorcyclists in a vulnerable position on the road. Using caution and lane splitting in safer conditions can help reduce the chances of an accident, but collisions may still occur due to negligent drivers.

Lane Splitting and Motorcycle Accident Claims

California is a fault-based car accident state that requires at-fault drivers to pay for their victims’ damages. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, you have the right to pursue financial compensation and hold the at-fault driver liable for your losses. However, if you are injured while lane splitting, the insurance or litigation processes can become complicated.

To secure compensation in a motorcycle accident claim, you will need to prove that the defendant’s actions caused your collision and resulting damages. If the insurance company or court finds that you were lane splitting when the accident occurred, it may find that you are partially liable for the collision.

If an insurance company finds you partially liable, it could use this information as a way to reduce or even deny your award. During a motorcycle accident lawsuit, California’s comparative negligence rules will apply, and your award will be reduced by the percentage of fault that you share.

For example, if you are assigned 20% of the fault and request a $20,000 award, you will only receive $16,000. Because California follows a pure comparative negligence doctrine, you can still recover compensation even if you were 99% at fault.

Speak to a San Francisco Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

If you are injured while lane splitting, you need a motorcycle accident attorney on your side. A lawyer can defend you against allegations of shared fault, hold the at-fault driver accountable for his or her actions, and help you secure the compensation that you need to recover.

Contact a San Francisco motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident to discuss your next steps.

Awards & Recognitions
award item image
award item image
award item image
award item image
award item image
award item image