Riding the Lines: Liability in Freeway Motorcycle Accidents

Riding the Lines: Liability in Freeway Motorcycle Accidents

Riding the lines, also known as lane splitting or lane sharing, is a common performance by motorcyclists. Lane splitting refers to the practice of a motorcycle riding between lanes as traffic is moving slower. This is oftentimes where accidents occur between motor vehicles and motorcycles because of:

  • The proximity of the motorcycle and vehicle

  • Beginning motorcycle riders trying to lane split

  • Traffic is unpredictable at times

  • Poor weather conditions

  • Trying to move between trucks or large vehicles with blind spots

In most other states, lane splitting is considered illegal, however, California law does not actually prohibit motorcycles from lane sharing or passing vehicles going in the same direction as them. The California Vehicle Code states that it is illegal for motor vehicle drivers to intentionally block motorcyclists from lane splitting. Motorcyclists can also still receive tickets for lane splitting if it is done in a reckless manner, which of course, comes at the discretion of the police officer. Because of these varying rules of the road, it may be difficult to say who exactly is liable when an accident occurs between a vehicle and a motorcycle that is riding the lines.

Usually, the motorcycle rider will be considered at fault if he or she was lane splitting. If an insurance company or the court finds that the lane splitting was the major cause of the accident, it can be difficult for the rider to seek any damages. However, if the rider can prove that the car contributed to the crash, the driver may be responsible for partial or full damages. The following factors could help prove this claim:

  • The motorcyclist was riding safety and carefully, not weaving in between traffic or speeding

  • The motorcyclist is an experienced rider and has completed a motorcycle safety course

  • The other driver was doing something more dangerous than lane splitting and contributed to the accident

These types of accidents can be even more deadly than accidents between two vehicles, so it’s especially important for both motorcycles and motor vehicles to drive with extreme caution and always be aware of their surroundings.


If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact our law firm at (800) 905-8777 to discuss your case.
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