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Lane Splitting and Motorcycle Accidents in California

Friday, January 29, 2016

Riders are often tempted to ride the white line or lane split when they are in a typical Los Angeles traffic jam. If you have a motorcycle accident while riding between lanes, your conduct will be used against you to show that you bear some or most of the responsibility for the accident. Even if your lane splitting contributed to the accident, you can still protect your right and opportunity to recover a monetary award for damages that were precipitated by another driver.

Lane splitting is not explicitly illegal in most U.S. jurisdictions, but you should avoid arguing the legality of your actions if a trooper pulls you over. Your objections will probably result in citations for failure to signal a lane changes or reckless riding.

Lane-splitting accidents typically occur when you ride between lanes and a driver abruptly turns into you. The attorney for the other driver will argue that the accident itself is evidence of unsafe lane-splitting riding, thus shifting some responsibility for the accident to you. You can counter these arguments by collecting all available information about the accident immediately after it happens. This information includes photographs of traffic conditions. Those photographs should show the distance between the two lanes of cars. If there are any witnesses, ask for their contact information but do not ask them to make any statements or guesses about what caused the accident. Let your attorney handle witness interviews.

Note the damage to your bike and the car that was involved in the accident. Record how fast you were riding. Most lane-splitting riding is done at slower speeds, and your direct notations of your own speed can easily contradict a driver's estimates. Riders should know that road paint is more slick in wet conditions and that riding on a painted line in those conditions should be avoided. If you were avoiding the painted lines while you were lane splitting, tell your lawyer that fact, as he will use that evidence as proof of your care while you were riding.

Riding in stopped or slow traffic is difficult and dangerous for many reasons. If the traffic was uncommonly slow when your accident happened, tell your lawyer that you opted to ride between lanes to avoid fatigue in your clutch hand. You can more balance your bike while it is in motion, so again, your lane-splitting may have enhanced your overall safety.

Each motorcycle accident presents a unique set of facts that each side to a lawsuit will use to his own benefit. If you have been in a motorcycle accident in Los Angeles County, please contact us as soon as you can for a complimentary review of the facts of your case.


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From our offices in Woodland Hills, California, Freeman & Freeman, LLP, provides legal advice and representation for clients in communities throughout the state, including those in Burbank, Glendale, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Tarzana, Santa Clarita, Agoura Hills, Reseda, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Northridge, Granada Hills, Pacoima, Panorama City, North Hollywood, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Lancaster, Palmdale and Alhambra.