Santa Barbara Motorcycle Lane-splitting Accident Lawyers
In the state of California, lane-splitting is a common occurrence on our roads. Motorcyclists often use this practice to avoid heavily trafficked areas throughout Santa Barbara by riding between other vehicles. Lane-splitting is allowed in California; however, many drivers still choose to ignore this fact and blame motorcyclists when a collision occurs.
If you or someone you love was injured in a lane-splitting accident caused by a negligent driver, then you may be eligible for compensation. Motorcycle accidents are rarely ever minor, and most motorcyclists suffer severe and costly injuries as a result of careless drivers. But the team at NordstrandBlack PC has the necessary experience and knowledge to win you the compensation you need from a motorcycle accident claim. To learn how in a free consultation, contact our firm at (805) 962-2022.
Lane-splitting is not prohibited under California law. While other states specifically ban lane-splitting, California does not have a law saying it is legal or illegal. However, with the passage of Assembly Bill 51 in 2016, lane-splitting is defined under California Vehicle Code 21658.1(a) VC as:
“…driving a motorcycle…that has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.”
As a result of this, guidance is determined by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). CHP advises motorcyclists to use caution when lane-splitting and maintains a neutral stance on the topic. This includes avoiding lane-splitting at high speeds, next to large vehicles like trucks, and moving through blind spots as quickly and safely as possible. Motorcyclists are also not allowed to ride along a road’s shoulder.
However, because lane-splitting is not illegal in California, drivers and insurance companies cannot refuse liability if a motorcyclist is injured while lane-splitting. In fact, the CHP expressly forbids drivers from committing any action that could endanger a motorcyclist, including blocking them from lane-splitting or opening a door into a motorcyclist’s lane. While it is up to a motorcyclist to practice safe riding habits when lane-splitting, it is also the responsibility of drivers to avoid hitting them. If a driver acted negligently and struck you while you were lane-splitting, then you can file a claim against them.
Motorcyclists are well aware of the dangers they face every day on California roadways and are often properly trained to avoid serious collisions while lane-splitting. However, they cannot control the actions of other drivers, who tend to show little respect for motorcyclists and drive more carelessly. Drivers may not check their blind spots before changing lanes or swerve when they become distracted, causing serious injuries to any motorcyclist that they hit. But this negligence should not be dismissed, and motorcyclists do have the right to file an auto accident claim if a driver injures them, even if a motorcyclist was lane-splitting.
Negligent actions that typically lead to a lane-splitting action include:
- Driving while distracted, such as texting, checking social media, or messing with a radio
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving while fatigued or drowsy
- Unsafe lane changes or merges
- Failing to check blind spots
- Drifting into other lanes
If a careless or reckless driver commits any one of the above actions and injures you, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. Compensation can include all financial costs of the accident, from your medical expenses to lost wages, as well as the pain you dealt with due to your injuries.
In order to pursue a claim against a negligent driver, you must demonstrate that they were at fault for your injuries. Even if you were lane-splitting, auto insurance companies cannot bar you from receiving compensation for an accident. If a car hit you while you were lane-splitting, the driver and his insurance company cannot use the excuse that the driver didn’t see you or that you came out of nowhere. Automobile drivers are expected to use their turn signals and check their blind spots before changing lanes. If they fail to do so and collide with a motorcyclist who was lane-splitting, then that rider is well within their right to file an auto accident claim.
But even if you do cite California’s laws, insurance companies will often refuse to provide proper compensation for your injuries. This is because California is a comparative fault state, meaning that multiple people can be found liable for an accident, including you. If your case goes to trial, the jury will be expected to determine how much fault you and the other driver share. If you are found to be 50% or more at fault for the accident, then you can be denied compensation. But, if you are found less than 50% at fault for the accident, then you can receive some compensation. For example, if the jury awards you $100,000 for your injuries and assigns you 20% of the fault, then you could only receive $80,000 in compensation.
However, with the right law firm, you may be able to receive compensation even if you were lane-splitting. Your attorney may argue that you were obeying the law and riding safety, while the other driver was acting negligently or recklessly. Your best option is to work with an experienced law firm that has successfully achieved positive case results on behalf of injured motorcyclists.
Lane-splitting is a complicated matter in California auto accident claims. Insurance companies like to argue that it is an unsafe practice and that an injured motorcyclist should have been more careful. But if you were obeying the law and lane-splitting safely, then you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. To do that, you will want to work with a knowledgeable and experienced Santa Barbara motorcycle accident attorney at NordstrandBlack PC. Our legal team has years of experience and is not afraid to take on complex cases. If you or someone you loved was injured by a negligent driver while lane-splitting, then we may be the right firm to handle your case. To learn how to recover compensation, contact our office at (805) 962-2022 and schedule a free consultation.