No matter how carefully you drive a motorcycle and follow road safety rules, some situations can put you in a tight spot. Collisions happen when you can’t react quickly to apply avoidance maneuvers. These road accidents can put you in a state of shock, panic, disorientation, or even an argument with the involved parties.
That’s why ChrisandFrank advises against transacting on the road and instead call an experienced personal injury attorney to help deal with the negotiations. If the collision is severe, getting legal help from an attorney during the incident will help increase your chances of claiming insurance and compensation. What are your legal rights and possible settlements as a rider or a victim during such situations?
Fortunately, California covers broad protection for their motorcycle riders. Discussed below are various motorcycle rider rights, requirements, and what to do in case of an accident.
Lane splitting or lane sharing
Many four-wheel drivers think that lane splitting or lane sharing in California is illegal and find it annoying. However, California road rules say that this is a legal traffic maneuver. Lane splitting is when a motorcycle runs in between two lanes, between two vehicles. By doing this, motorcyclists can move ahead faster when in-between road lanes to navigate traffic. Although many car drivers are annoyed at this practice, it actually makes the roads safer. It allows motorcyclists to avert more oversized vehicles and move away when a car suddenly brakes.
Anyone who holds a class M1 license in California can legally drive a car or a motorcycle and transport a passenger. A class M1 license permits you to drive a two or three-wheeled motorized vehicle, while an M2 license only allows a motorized bicycle or scooter. In California, there is no minimum age for a motorcycle passenger. However, they must abide by road safety regulations such as being securely seated for back riding, using a passenger footrest, or securely fastened while sitting on a sidecar.
Motorcycle riders are also covered by insurance. In fact, all riders are legally required to have at least the minimum coverage on liability insurance. Not having insurance means a one-year suspension of license in case they get into an accident. As per California laws, the minimum coverage requirement is $15,000 for bodily injuries, $30,000 for multiple people injuries, and $5,000 for property damages. However, for motorcycle riders, it is encouraged to get the highest policy limits to maximize the benefits.
Road safety gears
Road laws exist for the protection of all riders, that’s why safety gear is required. California requires the wearing of a helmet that meets the state requirements. It should be a safety helmet that’s approved by the U.S. Depart of Transportation. The penalty for not wearing a helmet while driving a two-wheel motorized vehicle can be up to $250. Additionally, riders should ideally wear protective clothing such as a long-sleeved jacket, long pants, gloves, and closed-toe boots. Gears should also have reflective material for better visibility on the road.
Equality on the road
Some drivers stereotypically look down on motorcyclists as nuisances on the road, cornering them and giving them less space to maneuver. This judgemental behavior towards motorcycle riders can be dangerous and often results in road accidents. Fortunately, California is the only known state that has very strong and solid legal protection on the road for its bikers. The laws on the roads are designed for both motorcycles and vehicles, and therefore, they should have equal rights on the road.
What to do during an accident
- Check for injuries and move to a safe side of the road. Check thoroughly for any physical pain and injuries. Assess all body pains, strains, wounds, and lacerations, if any. Check the other party and see if someone requires medical attention. If feeling severe pain, stay on the side of the road until help arrives.
- Do not remove your protective gear. This includes your helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and other types of body protection. Allow the paramedics to assess your physical condition and let them remove the items to prevent further injuries. Removing the protective gear yourself could add further strain to the body.
- Take photos and gather evidence. Do not move your motorcycle before it has been documented. Take pictures of the accident location, the vehicles’ positions, any signs of skid marks, and the broken vehicle parts. Note down if the other party followed safe driving protocols such as wearing seatbelts, helmets, airbags, and other protective gear. You may need this information for insurance claims or possible legal charges.
- Call your insurance and personal injury lawyer. It is important to inform the insurance company of the incident immediately, even if you still don’t know all the details of the possible claims. Some insurance companies require immediate reporting, so always read and remember the clause included in your insurance papers. This will make it easier for you if cases are filed or claims and compensations will be negotiated.
- Report the incident to the DMV. If a collision is estimated to be worth more than $750, no matter which party is more injured or damaged, you should personally report the incident to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days. Failure to do so may result in the suspension of the driver’s license. The report can be made via their website or any of their field offices.
If you’re a motorcycle rider, the risk of getting into a road accident is higher compared to four-wheeled vehicles. The aggressiveness of some drivers against motorcycle riders can cause road accidents. Riders with advanced driving and traffic maneuvering skills are less likely to be injured. It is important to be protected in every aspect of driving. Motorcycle riders are encouraged to know their rights on the road, what to do during an accident, update their insurances, and always have the number of a trusted personal injury lawyer for emergencies.