Know Your Rights as a Motorcycle Rider

Motorcycle Rights in California

Someone has to look out for the rights of motorcyclists in California. After all, most of the biker accidents in our state are caused by other drivers — the motorists in their pickup trucks, passenger cars, or semi-trucks.

As it happens, California has some of the best and broadest legal protections for motorcyclists in the country. But protecting your rights after an accident still isn’t easy because the insurance companies on the other side work very hard to minimize the payouts in these claims.

Aggressive legal representation can change that. But the laws in this area can be complicated, and many of them are new. It’s important, then, to work with experienced attorneys who comprehensively understand the fast-evolving area of California motorcycle law.

Below, we survey some of your most important rights as a motorcycle rider in The Golden State.

Motorcycle Lane Splitting Is Legal in California

Motorcycle lane splitting happens when a motorcycle drives in between two side-by-side lanes of traffic that are each moving in the same direction.

Contrary to popular opinion and belief, motorcycle lane splitting is now perfectly legal in the state of California. In fact, it has never been illegal (though it was considered something of a gray area until the fall of 2016, when the state legislature formally legalized the practice).

Specifically, motorcycles are allowed to:

  • Travel steadily in between two lanes of traffic
  • Move back and forth from the lane to the in-between
  • Travel at a faster speed than other vehicles while in between lanes

Note that these rights are specific to motorcycles — other kinds of vehicles do not have the same privileges. And most states have not adopted the same permissions.

While many motorists are shocked that California allows the practice, studies consistently show that motorcycle lane splitting actually saves lives. That’s because motorcycles operate differently than other vehicles. Splitting allows them to safely get out of the way of larger cars. It also prevents them from inhaling excessive exhaust.
So Is Motorcycle Lane Sharing

Lane sharing happens when two vehicles drive side by side within the same lane of traffic, essentially “sharing” the lane together.

This practice is also legal in California, but only on bigger roads where at least two lanes of traffic move in the same direction.

On those roads, lane sharing is allowed when it involves:

  • Two motorcycles riding side by side, or
  • One motorcycle and one passenger vehicle riding side by side

Note that one of the vehicles must be a motorcycle. And there are no instances in which three or more vehicles are allowed to share a lane.

There is less consensus as to whether motorcycle lane sharing is safe, and it should probably be exercised sparingly. Nevertheless, it is legal in our state (as described above) and an important part of California bikers’ rights.

You Have an Equal Right to the Road

Too often, people who drive passenger vehicles look down on motorcyclists. They seem them as a nuisance and a distraction, as if they are somehow breaking a rule by being on the road.

That attitude isn’t just judgmental; it’s dangerous. Studies have shown that when drivers look down on bikers, they don’t treat them with the same respect as other motorists. They might be less inclined to give them adequate room on the road, for instance.

But the truth is that motorcyclists have an equal right to the road. If you’ve been injured in a Bakersfield motorcycle accident, please know that you were entitled to the same rights as all the other motorists involved in the accident. And you might also be entitled to legal relief for your damages.

Available Compensation in a Bakersfield Motorcycle Accident

Most motorcycle crashes involve rather extensive injuries, so the financial damages can add up quickly. Victims (or, in wrongful death cases, their families) are sometimes surprised to learn they are entitled to more than they realized.

The financial compensation available in a Bakersfield, California motorcycle accident might include reimbursement for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Hospital bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost wages due to time away from work
  • Damage to the motorcycle or other property
  • Burial and funeral expenses (in wrongful death cases)
  • Loss of love and/or financial support (in wrongful death cases)
  • Other damages, as determined by the specific facts of the case

The Bakersfield motorcycle accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Mickey Fine can help you determine whether you are entitled to monetary compensation in your case (and, if so, how much). We offer free consultations to accident victims and wrongful death families in our state.

Learn About Your Rights. Get Aggressive Legal Representation on Your Side.

Despite pervasive attitudes against bikers in Bakersfield, motorcyclists have robust rights in our state. Among those is the right to be treated safely while on the roads. As Bakersfield motorcycle accident lawyers, we are here to protect and defend those rights.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Bakersfield motorcycle accident, you might be entitled a substantial recovery under the law. Contact our office for a free, no-obligation consultation today. Just call, text, or use our online form.

Motorcycle Accident
by Mickey Fine Law
Last updated on - Originally published on