Legally reviewed by:
Setareh Law
June 20, 2023

As more and more people get interested in motorcycling in California, there has been an increase in motorcycle-related accidents across the state. This is due to negligence by both riders and other drivers on the road.

However, a conflicting debate exists on who is responsible when an accident involves a lane-splitting motorbike rider. Some people are of the view that the motorcyclist should be liable if they were lane-splitting during the crash. But what are the facts? Are motorcycle riders really responsible for lane-splitting accidents? Setareh Law can help answer any questions you may have following a lane-splitting accident.

What Is Lane-Splitting?

Lane-splitting is when a motorcyclist moves between two lanes of slowly moving or completely stopped traffic. Motorcyclists usually lane-split to save time by evading traffic congestion on the highway.

The proponents of this practice argue that it’s safe, saves time, and potentially avoids dangerous accidents that can happen if, otherwise, the riders were to follow other vehicles bumper to bumper. On the other hand, others say that it’s a dangerous practice that should be prohibited, as drivers are likely not to see the incoming lane-splitting motorbikes, leading to accidents.

Is Lane-Splitting Legal?

The legality of lane-splitting depends on the state you are in. Though endorsed by the American Motorcycle Association, in most states, it’s an illegal practice and motorcycle riders involved in an accident while lane-sharing may be liable for it.

Nevertheless, in California, lane-splitting is legal. But this doesn’t mean the other party will automatically be liable in a lane-splitting accident. As such, riders are required to safely lane-split to prevent accidents from occurring. Drivers in California also need to take reasonable steps to protect lane-filtering motorcyclists.

Rules for Lane-Splitting In California

Though the practice isn’t prohibited in California, motorcycle riders who intend to lane-split must follow certain conditions to ensure their safety and those of other motorists. Some of these conditions may include that the motorcyclist:

  • Lane-splits only in stopped traffic or in slow traffic that’s moving less than 30mph
  • Doesn’t ride more than 10mph faster than the speed of the traffic
  • Doesn’t lane-split between large vehicles like buses or trucks
  • Uses the leftmost lanes whenever possible to lane-split
  • Ensures the traffic in both lanes is moving relatively the same speed before lane-splitting to avoid hitting other vehicles changing the lanes
  • Always leaves enough space for the other driver

Motorcycle riders who negligently lane-split may be unable to recover damages if they’re involved in an accident. Always remember to consult a skilled California motorcycle accident lawyer if you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident.

Who Is Liable in a Lane-Splitting Accident in California?

Considering whether lane-splitting played a role in causing the accident can be difficult to determine in some cases. The driver or the rider may be found responsible, depending on the specific details of the accident. In some cases, both parties may share liability for their actions.

The rider may be held liable if they’re found to have disregarded the rules of safe lane-splitting. This may be something like carelessly weaving in and out of lanes or overspeeding. On the other hand, if a driver was switching lanes abruptly without warning or drifting from lane to lane, closing the gap between the traffic, they may be responsible for the accident.

If you find yourself in this kind of scenario, your best bet is to enlist an experienced California auto accident lawyer for help investigating and gathering evidence to determine who is liable. A personal injury lawyer is crucial in fighting for fair compensation if the other party is found to have negligently caused the accident.

Consult Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyers in California

Getting involved in any kind of accident is the last thing anyone wishes for themselves and others. Unfortunately, you may find yourself in a traffic accident as a driver or motorcycle rider. In these difficult times, you will want a compassionate and tenacious attorney who can seamlessly help you traverse the unfamiliar legal complexities that follow.

Here at Setareh Law, we’re committed to providing you with professional legal representation to protect your rights. We can help you file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party and, if necessary, proceed to court to obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries and other damages. Reach out to us online or call us at (310) 659-1826 to consult a skilled California lane-splitting accident lawyer for free. Our team also speaks Spanish.