- You no longer have to play the blame game.
- We will bring the responsible party to justice, especially where serious injuries or death occurs.
- It is our duty to do everything we can to make you whole, both economically and non-economically.
- No responsible party is too large to take on. It doesn’t matter if it’s the State of California, a bike manufacturer or a driver’s insurance company; we will see the case through to your satisfaction. If you are not happy with a settlement or if we believe you have a very strong case for the jury, we will see it all the way to trial.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a motorcycle accident in Los Angeles or Greater Southern California, we are here to help you. Call our motorcycle accident attorney for a free consultation at (213) 891-0777.
California Lane Splitting Law
Is lane splitting legal?
In California, it is perfectly legal to lane split as long as you do so in a safe and responsible manner. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) emphasizes the four R’s:
- Reasonable – not exceeding 10mph faster than the flow of traffic, while not engaging in activity if going over 39mph.
- Responsible – making sure you have enough room to split and are not putting yourself in any dangerous condition.
- Respectful – understand that other vehicles are not obligated to make space for you. If there’s not enough room to go through then don’t split. Try not to irritate other drivers through disrespectful behavior.
- Aware of Road Conditions – stay alert for distracted drivers (you know, the ones who start texting as soon as traffic slows), pay attention to changing weather conditions, watch for wide trucks and sharp curves.
Is lane splitting safe?
California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) as well as the CHP insists that lane splitting is a safe activity when following the four R’s. It is generally up to the rider to decide whether conditions are safe for splitting, however looking at an OTS survey we may see evidence that drivers are to blame for unsafe lane sharing.
In 2012, the OTS conducted a survey asking riders about their experience with lane splitting. When asked if riders engaged in lane splitting, more than 77% admitted to it. Most riders said they only split when traffic is below 30mph and 67% said a vehicle has tried to block their way.
Are drivers really that evil when it comes to letting bikes pass? Well, no. A third of the riders said the most serious threat to their safety was drivers not looking in the mirror. Another 30% said distracted drivers posed the most danger to them. Combined with 10% who said cars changing lanes is the biggest hazard that’s over 70% response rate blaming driver’s behavior as the potential cause of accidents. It appears that drivers are just not paying much attention and forget about motorcyclists altogether.
Who is liable in a lane splitting incident?
The answer to how lane-splitting affects and insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit depends on the circumstances of the incident. Fault may lie with the rider or the driver depending on the answers to a different range of questions, including:
- Was the rider splitting cautiously? Was he speeding, weaving out of lanes, or acted carelessly in regards to the room available for the bike?
- Was the driver careless? Was the driver distracted, inattentive, and participating in illegal behavior of purposefully blocking the path?
- Was the driver entirely at fault? Did the drive cut off the bike? Were they changing lanes excessively?
- Were there any witnesses to back up either claim? What does the police report say?
Important: a police report favoring the driver’s claim does not necessarily guarantee that the rider is at fault. Police reports can be biased depending on how the responding officer feels about motorcycle riders and lane splitting in general. This is why it’s important to talk to an attorney if blame is being shifted on you as a rider.
Freeways and interchanges where motorcycle accidents are common:
|US Route 101 (US-101)
||Orange Crush Interchange
|East Los Angeles Interchange
||Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange
||El Toro Y
||Santa Ana Freeway
||Santa Monica Freeway
||San Diego Freeway
||Pacific Coast Highway
Left Turn Motorcycle Crashes
An intersection is a deadly place for motorcycle riders. Particularly, left hand turns by drivers have been proven deadly for riders. In a vehicle-to-vehicle accident, the occupants have a higher chance of surviving such accidents since speeds are typically low. However, when motorcyclists are involved, injuries are often far worse or deadly.
The most common scenarios where riders get hurt at left hand turns are:
- Vehicle is turning left and fails to yield to a motorcycle going straight;
- A motorcyclist turning left is hit by an oncoming vehicle also making a turn.
In either case, consequences for motorcyclist are usually very severe compared to the driver.
Who is at fault?
To the injured rider it may be clear that the vehicle was at fault since it failed to yield while turning left. However, insurance companies will find all sorts of ways to shift blame onto motorcyclist. Not speaking to an attorney for simple advice can turn into a very costly mistake.
Insurance adjusters can use all sorts of excuses to blame shift onto you as a rider such as:
- You were speeding;
- Your clothing wasn’t bright enough, thus it is your fault;
- You should have yielded to the car in the first place;
- Ignoring the traffic accident report even though it clearly states the driver was at fault.
Even though each of the claims above is false, it may be difficult for riders to prove otherwise without the help of an attorney who has seen and heard every type of blame shifted on riders.
Comparative Negligence Rule
In California, the courts follow a comparative negligence rule when it comes to determining fault. This means that even if you played a role in the accident, you may still recover compensation. The court looks at the degree of fault to establish what percentage of the compensation amount you may be awarded.
For example, if you were hit by a left turning vehicle that failed to yield but were also found partially at fault for speeding through the intersection, the court may only award the compensation percentage of driver’s fault.
So, if you file a claim for $10,000 and you are found to be 40 percent at fault, the court may award $6,000 (60 percent of $10,000) in compensation.
The degree of fault is determined on any number of factors such as:
- Reckless or aggressive driving
- Running a changing or changed light
- Failure to wear a motorcycle helmet
- Distracted driving (cell phone use in-hand)
- Following too closely
- Unsafe lane changing
Important: If you believe you were partly at fault, contact an attorney for the best chance of recovering partial compensation. Handling a claim on your own can cost you thousands of dollars in losses or a denied claim.
Sports Bike / Street Bike Accidents
Sports bike or street bikes are popular for their high speeds and rate of acceleration. They are also some of the most common types of motorcycles involved in accidents. A negative perception of sports bikes makes riders an easy target for insurance companies. Adjusters will go to great lengths to minimize claims and pay as little as possible to riders by pointing at various stereotypical behaviors that were not necessarily exhibited by the rider.
Some of the more popular sports bikes in Southern California:
|Honda CBR 250R
||Yamaha FZ -09
||Yamaha YZF R6
||Kawasaki Ninja 300 ABS SE
|Honda CBR 500R ABS
||Ducati 848 EVO Corse SE
||Suzuki GSX-R 750
||BMW HP4 Base
While injured riders assume that they’ll be fairly compensated even when fault is clearly attributed to the driver, the insurance company is doing everything it can behind the scenes to minimize their claim.
Riders make the biggest mistake in trusting the insurance companies. It’s easy to confuse an adjustor’s friendliness and cooperation over the phone for someone who is on your side, when in fact they are trying to diminish your claim as much as possible with carefully crafted questions that cause you to admit fault.
The best solution to this common mistake is to speak to an attorney as early as possible. In most cases injured victims get more money for their injuries with an attorney than without. When serious injuries are involved, it is especially crucial to talk to a lawyer before destroying any viable chance of proving the driver’s negligence.
Our firm fights for the rights of all injured motorcycle riders. We make sure stereotypes do not enter settlement negotiations or hinder your case in court.
What to do if you are involved in an accident:
A good attorney will answer all of your questions and will point you in the right direction regardless of whether you plan on retaining their services. We put together a list of most frequently asked questions asked by our clients:
If you are reading this, chances are you’ve already experienced a motorcycle accident and you are curious whether you made any mistakes at the accident scene.
Even if you made a mistake or forgot to do something, do not panic. Our attorneys will help you make the best of your current situation. Here’s a bullet list of things you should and shouldn’t do:
- Move to a safe location away from the traffic.
- Dial 911 for emergency response. Do not flee the scene of the accident.
- Collect identifying information (names, addresses, insurance information) from involved parties if your physical condition allows it.
- Identify witnesses to the accident and gather their personal information.
- Take pictures of your injuries, accident scene and property damage.
- Get medical attention.
- Don’t discuss the accident with anyone other than the police officer at the scene. Discussing anything may harm your claim. The easiest thing to do is to cooperate only with the police, however do not make any guesses when asked about the accident. Stretching the truth will hurt your case rather than help it.
- Don’t refuse or delay medical attention. You may feel fine now, only to realize you have injuries that have not made themselves evident until later. When you refuse treatment, the insurance company will assume you’re not hurt. Furthermore, payment for treatment of any injuries that show up at a later time (that were exacerbated by the accident) will be harder to obtain.
- Don’t give recorded statements to insurance companies or adjusters. These are trained professionals who know how to craft questions in a way that will help them while hurting you. Not to sound like a broken record, but you need to speak to an attorney before making any potentially damaging statements.
- Don’t ignore the steps that you should follow, even when it’s very clear that the other party is at fault. The more information and evidence you have to support your claim the better. When it comes to monetary damages, people will do anything they can to protect themselves and you shouldn’t assume they have your interests in mind.
Don’t Settle for Less
Insurance companies will want a quick settlement and will often offer a low amount for your injuries. Speaking with a motorcycle injury attorney shows the insurance companies that you won’t be bullied around into accepting low settlements that do not meet your expectations. Even with attorney fees upon recovery, victims often recover more than they would on their own.
Our attorneys at Fisher & Talwar look out for your best interests only, and will do everything possible to get you the compensation you deserve.