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Motorcycle accident

California Motorcycle Laws
& Your Personal Injury Claim

George Aldrich Feb. 3, 2022

California leads the nation with the number of motorcycles at 957,873 in 2021, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Florida, with a third fewer at 645,012, is second. The statistics are reversed, when it comes to motorcycle accident fatalities. Florida in 2019 led the nation with 591 fatalities, and the Golden State second at 474 fatalities.

It is not surprising that California has an abundance of motorcyclists on the road, considering the year-round moderate temperatures along the coast and the scenic beauty.

Unfortunately, motorcyclists are also more prone to being involved in accidents. Though motorcycles represent only three percent of all vehicles in the United States, they account for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to the IIHS.

If you or a loved one has been injured while out motorcycling – or worse, lost their life – in Lakeport or Woodland Hills, California, contact G. Aldrich Law. We also serve clients in Lake County, Los Angeles County, Colusa County, Riverside County, surrounding Northern and Southern California counties.

Insurance companies are notorious for assuming the motorcyclist is always at fault. A motorcycle accident/personal injury attorney can fight for your rights and deal with insurer prejudice.

Motorcycle Laws in California

California has laws governing motorcycle mechanical standards, the cyclists operating them, and the passengers riding along.

California Vehicle Code (CVC) 27803 requires motorcyclists and their passengers to wear helmets at all times. The helmets must meet the standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

Handlebar height is also regulated. Handlebars cannot be installed in a position that puts the cyclist’s hands more than six inches above the shoulders when they are sitting on the motorcycle, according to CVC 27801.

Working turn signals are required on all vehicles built and first registered on or after January 1, 1973. Motorcycles made from 2013 to the present must have exhaust systems compliant with the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act.

If you are going to carry a passenger, your motorcycle must have passenger footrests.

Motorcyclists under 21 years of age must complete the California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) training course. Those over 21 are encouraged to do so.

Lane Splitting and Lane Sharing

Lane splitting refers to a motorcyclist passing between two vehicles in the space between the two lanes those vehicles are traveling in. It is a frequent sight on California freeways. The Golden State is one of only four states that have legalized lane splitting. Other states have banned the practice or ignored it in their legal codes.

CVC 22400 protects cyclists’ right to lane split, forbidding motorists from trying to block a motorcyclist from coming between vehicles.

Lane sharing refers to motorcyclists riding side by side. California has no law prohibiting lane sharing.

How Motorcycle Laws Can
Affect Your Injury Claim

California law adheres to the pure comparative negligence standard, which means that all parties in an accident can be assigned a percentage of the negligence or fault involved. Under the “pure” standard, you can still recover for injuries or damages even if you are adjudged 90 percent or more at fault. Of course, then the other party could hold you liable for your share.

In practical terms, what this means is that the insurance company handling your claim will attempt to assign a portion of the fault on you so they can lower their liability. If the insurer can show that something you did or something on your motorcycle didn’t function correctly, they can assign you a percentage of fault.

Thus, if your medical expenses and lost wages total $10,000, and they claim you to be 30 percent at fault, your settlement would be $7,000 ($10,000 minus 30 percent). The same pure comparative negligence standard will apply if you file a suit. A jury will then assess your liability.

Proving Negligence and
Filing for Personal Injury

Since California is an at-fault state, you can file a claim with the vehicle operator with whom you had a collision and were injured, or file a claim with your insurer. Your insurance company will then seek a subrogation claim against the at-fault party’s insurer.

Either way, you’re going to be limited by the caps on the other driver’s insurance. Remember, the minimum insurance requirement is $15,000 for bodily injury for a single person injured. If your injuries exceed that amount, they won’t be covered unless the at-fault driver purchased a higher limit.

A third option is to file a personal injury lawsuit, where the award can surpass any insurance limits. All drivers in California, motor vehicle or motorcycle, are required under law to show a duty of care to others on the road and pedestrians. If you can prove that the other driver did something to cause the accident that resulted in your injuries, you can hold that person legally liable.

Your award, as in an insurance settlement, would be subject to comparative negligence rules, however.

Motorcycle Accidents Attorney in Lakeport & Woodland Hills, California

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident with another vehicle, your first duty is to seek medical care. Even if you feel your injuries are slight, seek medical evaluation immediately. Injuries have a way of not appearing until days or even weeks later. You will also need the documentation to bolster your personal injury claim.

The next step is to contact the motorcycle accident attorney at G. Aldrich Law. You don’t want to deal with insurance company claims adjusters who will try to get you to say something they can use against you. Let us handle that, and if need be, let us help initiate a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.

We proudly serve clients not only in Lakeport and Woodland Hills, California but in Lake County, Los Angeles County, Colusa County, Riverside County, surrounding Northern and Southern California counties.