Motorcycle Laws and Accidents in California

Motorcycle Laws and Accidents in California

Michelle Patrick
Michelle Patrick
 | 
California is known for its great weather. Since the weather is nice throughout the year, motorcycles are a common site on California roadways. It is estimated that there are more than 13 million motorcycles on the road in the United States, with almost 800,000 being registered to California drivers.  

Unfortunately, according to the National Transportation and Safety Administration, the chance of being injured while driving a motorcycle is 4 times greater than operating another vehicle. The chance of being killed is 29 times greater. 

While the rate of motorcycle accidents in California has fluctuated over the past few years, California’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) reported that motorcycle fatalities actually decreased by 9.4% from 2018 to 2019 (the most recent statistics available). In 2019, 529 motorcyclists were killed in California. Of those, 32 were not wearing a helmet. 

California’s Motorcycle Laws

California, like most states, requires that motorcyclists follow the basic rules of the road that anyone operating a car, SUV, van or truck has to follow. This includes obeying traffic laws, like not speeding, stopping at red lights and not driving drunk. 

In addition, California has enacted other legislation aimed at keeping motorcyclists, and everyone else on the road, safe. These range from basic safety requirements that apply to anyone who wishes to operate a motor vehicle to rules specific to motorcyclists. 

Motorcycle License.
California motorcyclists must have a special motorcycle license known as a motorcycle endorsement. Requirements vary based on age, though drivers must be at least 16 years old. All applicants will have to pass three tests - skills, knowledge and vision. 

Motorcycle Insurance and Registration.
California requires that motorcyclists register and insure their vehicles. Motorcyclists are required to have a minimum of $5,000 in property damage coverage, $15,000 in bodily injury coverage per person, and $30,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident.  

Helmet Law.
California motorcyclists and passengers are required to wear a helmet that is compliant with U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. The DOT’s certification is displayed on the helmet. 

Equipment Requirements.
California motorcyclists must have working front and rear turn signals and side mirrors. In addition, handlebars cannot be located so that your hands would be more than 6 inches higher than your shoulders when gripping the handlebars.

Lane Splitting.
Lane splitting refers to a motorcycle riding between the lanes of traffic; it allows motorcyclists to weave in and out of traffic. Motorcyclists argue that lane splitting is safe because it makes them less likely to be rear-ended. Drivers of other vehicles argue that lane splitting is not safe particularly if they are changing lanes. If the motorcycle winds up in the blind spot, or pulls in suddenly as the driver is starting to change langes, then the driver likely will not see the motorcycle and could end up hitting the motorcyclist. In 2016, lane splitting became legal in California. California is currently the only state with a law specifically allowing lane splitting. While the majority of states have legislation making lane splitting illegal, a number of states have no laws at all relating to lane splitting thereby by making it permissible.  

What Happens If You Are Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in California?

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident  you will need to prove that the person who caused the accident is “at fault” for the accident. California is a comparative negligence state, meaning that more than one person can be found liable for an accident and liability will be assigned accordingly. 

If you are successful in proving fault, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries. Damages available include: 
  • medical loss. This includes hospital visits, doctors appointments, surgery, prescription costs, and rehabilitation costs. 
  • lost wages. If you are forced to miss work because of your injuries you might be entitled to lost wages. 
  • property damage. This includes the cost of repairing your vehicle.
  • pain and suffering. 

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.
 
Michelle Patrick

Find My Lawyer

Start by selecting your legal need:
Business / Employment

Business / Employment

Family / Personal / Injury / Immigration

Family / Personal / Injury / Immigration

Criminal Defense / Civil Rights

Criminal Defense / Civil Rights

Real Estate / Housing

Real Estate / Housing

Estate Planning / Power of Attorney

Estate Planning / Power of Attorney

Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"I was able to find just the right lawyer for my case. It was easy to use."

Lucy Coutinho

Client

Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"Very easy for me to get connected with an experienced attorney."

Robert Knox Jr

Client

Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"It was super easy. It was super fast and I got connected pretty quickly."

Lenasia Smalls

Client

Client Testimonial - Triso Valls
LawChamps Reviews

"It’s easy to register and match with a lawyer according to your legal [need]."

Triso Valls

Client

Ready To Get Started?

Find Your Lawyer NowLawChamps Arrow Icon

Related Posts

Criminal vs. Civil Cases: What's the Difference?

Michelle Patrick | 08 July, 2021

We all watch television shows, or hear stories on the news, about people or corporations being “sued.” Many people believe that suing someone is always necess...

Read More Arrow Icon

Video: Fighting an Eviction

Patty Lamberti | 09 June, 2021

The federal ban on evictions is set to end at the end of June. Most cities and states are planning on letting landlords evict tenants who haven't been paying rent ...

Read More Arrow Icon

Preparing for Bankruptcy

Susan R. Miller | 24 May, 2021

It’s been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began and for many businesses it’s been a roller coaster ride. Nearly 100,000 businesses had permanentl...

Read More Arrow Icon

Related Posts

Hire One, Help Another

LawChamps donates a portion of our revenue, investing it back into funding justice reform organizations and subsidizing the legal fees for those who cannot afford them.
Learn More