Motorcyclist are 10 times more likely to be injured and 35 times more likely to die than passengers in a car crash. With the increase in popularity or motorcycles, there are more and more motorcycle accidents each year. In the past, most motorcycle accident cases involved young riders (18-25) on sport bikes. But recently, I have seen a trend to more and more motorcycle accidents involving riders over 40 and in my case over 50 years old.
Most cases we handle involve Failure to Yield or Left Turn (CVC 21801a) in which a car turns directly into your path at an intersection, Unsafe Lane Change or “Exit” cases which occur on the freeway, where a driver crosses into you or your path. We also take on the difficult cases where the Traffic Collision Report alleges the motorcyclist is primarily at fault for riding at Unsafe Speed (CVC 22350) or for making an Unsafe Lane Change (CVC 21658a).
Tom Reinecke has served as a former Traffic Judge pro tem in California Superior Court.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, you need the Best Motorcycle Lawyer. Attorney Tom Reinecke has been recognized as the “Top Gun” of motorcycle accident attorneys in Southern California. The Reinecke Law Firm are Real Lawyers that get Real Results. We are not a referral service. We have offices serving Los Angeles, Orange County, the Inland Empire and San Diego.
For more information about what you should do after a motorcycle accident, see our motorcycle accident information page or call us at (800) 275-8326.
Never, ever give a written or recorded statement to any insurance company without contacting a motorcycle accident attorney first. The questions asked by the insurance company are designed to have you either admit liability or admit to being partially at fault for causing or contributing to the accident. YOU ARE NOT AT FAULT – CALL AN ATTORNEY
MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS AN OVERVIEW
Riding motorcycles is a popular activity and motorcycle registrations are on the rise. Despite their popularity, the inherent nature of motorcycles makes riding them a potentially dangerous undertaking. Unlike cars and other vehicles, motorcycles offer drivers and passengers no protection. There is nothing between the rider and the open road other than the clothes the rider is wearing and possibly a helmet. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact The Reinecke Law Firm in Serving All of Southern California, California, to schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney who can explain your legal options.
COMMON CAUSES OF MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS
Motorcycle accidents, like all accidents involving motor vehicles, can be caused by a number of different factors. While an accident can be the fault of the motorcycle driver, many times, other drivers cause accidents involving motorcycles. Because of a motorcycle’s relatively small size, many drivers of passenger cars and trucks do not see motorcyclists. Even if they check their mirrors before changing lanes or turning, the motorcycle may be in the car’s blind spot, and an accident may result.
MOTORCYCLE LITIGATION BASICS
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may have many questions about your legal options. You may have never been involved in a lawsuit before and not know where to start. The following information provides a general overview about motorcycle accident cases.
MOTORCYCLE DEFECTS AND RECALLS
A defect in a motorcycle or one of its parts can cause serious accidents. For example, a defective helmet might not provide the protection it is intended to, resulting in more serious head injuries. A defect in the brakes may not allow you to stop in time to avoid an accident. If you suspect that your motorcycle has a dangerous safety defect, you can report this defect to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a federal agency tasked with investigating alleged defects, issuing safety standards for vehicles and requiring manufacturers to recall vehicles that do not meet federal safety standards.
MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT RESOURCES
American Motorcyclists Association – An organization that pursues, protects and promotes the interests of motorcycle enthusiasts.
Bikers Rights Online – Devoted to motorcycle riders’ rights, this site includes articles, studies and a review of helmet laws that is searchable by state.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety site features vehicle ratings, safety facts and publications.
Motorcycle Consumer News – An advertising-free, multi-faceted resource for the motorcycling public.
Many of my clients and fellow motorcycle riders often times modify or upgrade their stock (OEM) exhaust systems with new full exhaust or “slip ons” to get a strong, aggressive sound. Mods also lessons the airflow from the engine, increases power and it’s lighter all giving better performance and it also improves the bike’s appearance. (My favorite slip-ons are Yoshimura R-77D. Twin Bros. M2 Black and any Vance Hines. I also like Rinehart Duals and Xtremes for Harley-Davidsons.)
But before you switch to a slip-on muffler or an entirely new set of pipes it’s important to know the law and the 2019 changes. The California Vehicle Code §27202 has the table of exhaust noise:
Pre 1970 93dBA
1970 – 1972 88dBA
1973 – 1974 86dBA
1975 – 1985 83dba
1986 – Current 80dBA (Credit Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger)
First, all manufacturers and aftermarket providers comply with these rules. Straight off the showroom floor, Harley exhaust systems emit noise as high as 80 decibels (dBs). For reference, a typical car idling emits noise at 35-45dBA and a lawn mower is 95dBA.
California Vehicle Code §21750- Adequate Muffler states every motor vehicle must have an adequate muffler to prevent “any excessive or unusual noise” and “no muffler hall be equipped with a cutout, bypass or similar device”.
California Vehicle Code §21751- Modification of Exhaust System states “No person shall modify the exhaust system” which will “amplify or increase the noise emitted.”
The New Muffler Law (effective January 1, 2019) – Previously a motorcyclist was simply cited with a “Fix-it Ticket” for a modified or excessively loud exhaust which could be corrected. The old law allowed you to “fix” your exhaust symptom within thirty (30) days and provide proof to avoid a fine.
However, on January 1, 2019, the NEW LAW mandates a traffic ticket for a “modified or loud exhaust or muffler system” with a mandatory fine of up to $1,000.00 with the first offenses is a mandatory $100.00, second offense a mandatory $250.00. So cut outs, bypasses, straight pipes or exhausts with holes are now illegal. No more fix-it tickets.
Since the beginning of 2018, I have had more and more cases in which my client is simply commuting to work and lane splitting when a vehicle suddenly changes lanes directly into their path causing a violent broadside collision, an ejection from the bike and serious injuries.
Then the CHP Traffic Collision Report concludes the motorcyclist is the “Primary Collision Factor” for riding in violation of the California Vehicle Code §22350- Unsafe Speed and, to add insult to injury, the CHP does not mention that state the suddenly turning car is even an “associated factor” for making an Unsafe Lane Change.
So what exactly is the California law on lane splitting?
As you are well aware, lane spitting reduces traffic commute times for riders and other drivers. It is also safer for bikers who can avoid being rear-ended by distracted drivers in stop and go traffic.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated lane splitting “offers a means of reducing congestion in addition to possible safety benefits.”
A 2015 study at the University of California Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research & Education Center found that 17% of the 6,000 motorcycle accidents in California between 2012 and 2013 involved lane splitting at the time of their collision. That same study found that lane splitting was “relatively safe” if done in moving traffic at 50 mph or less and motorcycles don’t exceed other vehicle’s speed by 15 mph, that lane splitting motorcyclist were less likely to suffer head, torso and fatal injuries but more than twice as likely to rear-end another vehicle.
But the bottom line is that lane splitting takes another vehicle out of the line and improve traffic for all.
The Lane Splitting Law:
Lane splitting date back to the 1960’s when most motorcycle were air-cooled and would overheat in California notoriously bad “stop and go” traffic. The practice of lane splitting was never illegal in California. It is the only state in country where lane splitting is legal.
However, on August 19, 2016 California Vehicle Code §21658.1 (Assembly Bill 51) was officially enacted making lane splitting legal in California. The California Highway Patrol was instructed to develop “educational guidelines” for the safety of motorcyclist and drivers. So this did not actually change the law, it just empowered the CHP to make guidelines.
In September 27, 2018, the CHP released “Lane Splitting Safety Tips” which begins with a BOLD Disclaimer that
“Lane Splitting can be dangerous and extreme caution should be exercised’
The only “Tip” that refers to speed states:
“Danger increases at higher speed differentials”
So according to Cycle World and others, the new law didn’t do much to actually set up real guidelines for lane splitting.
The Bottom Line on Lane Splitting:
I believe that CHP Officers have “Marching Orders” from the Sacramento CHP Commanders to enforce the old (unapproved) A.B. 51 guidelines for motorcyclist:
- Travel at a speed “no more than 10 MPH” faster than other traffic;
- Not advisable to lane split when traffic flows 30 mph or faster
I deduct this from my review of most if not ALL of my client’s CHP Traffic Collision Reports which compare my client’s allegedly “admitted” speed to the surrounding vehicle’s speed to conclude that my client was riding in violation of the California Vehicle Code §22350- Unsafe Speed for Conditions.
This CHP Report last Page “Conclusion” will then be used by insurance companies for the driver’s at fault to flat out deny lability or claim some sort of comparative negligence (they always say you’re either say 30% or 50% at fault). Total Bull!
To fight this, first, a witness can’t give expert opinions as to your speed and second, and most important, a CHP Officer can only testify as to what the parties said (an exception to the hearsay rule) and what he observed. A CHP’s officer’s opinion as to fault or the Primary Collision Factor or who he believes is at fault is improper and will never see the light of day.
If you were riding at a reasonably safe speed, straight, with a lane, when some Bozo busted out of their lane to jump into an opening next to you (i.e. an Unsafe Lane Change) causing a collision and injuries – Fight It! Win!
If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident involving lane sharing/ lane splitting , please call Tom Reinecke – BestMotorycleLawyer.com at (800) 275-8326.
About Thomas G. “Tom” Reinecke: Since 1987, Tom Reinecke has been the highest rated California Motorcycle Lawyer. A graduate of UCLA, former Superior Court Judge Pro Tem, and Author of California Motorcycle Law, Tom has successfully handled thousands of motorcycle accident and injury cases.
Many motorcyclists believe after being involved in a left turn motorcycle accident that they are protected by the California Vehicle Code § 21801, which states that the driver of a vehicle will yield the right of way, until the turn can be made with a reasonable difference. The motorcyclist in a left turn collision may believe that they do not need to be represented by a lawyer, since it appears like it is clear who is at fault. But avoiding motorcycle injuries is not always possible, and neither is determining fault by reading the CVC.
If you have never ridden in Southern California chances are you need to make a few adjustments about your riding habits, especially if you have not been riding in the big cities. Safety is our biggest priority when it comes to motorcycling on the streets and we are here to help you lower your chances of being involved in a motorcycle accident.
If you don’t know already, lane-splitting or lane-sharing is legal in the Golden State of California, this is a huge help as the traffic is horrendous at all times of the day and on a motorcycle your commute just got 5x’s shorter. If you plan to lane-split follow the guidelines provided by California Highway Patrol. Remember that lane-splitting is not illegal but you still can get a ticket for unsafe lane-splitting.
You must wear a DOT approved helmet when riding a motorcycle, that is the law in California and in most states that care enough about their citizens. Your survival rate after having been in a motorcycle accident is significantly higher when a proper sized and worn helmet is on a rider.
Stay out of drivers blind spots. Blind spots can be the result of side-swiped motorcycle accidents. Lane-splitting increases the risk of getting side-swiped or pushed out of the lane and can be very painful if contact is made. If you have a hard time seeing the drivers eyes then chances are that they can’t see you.
Always be seen. Be visible and wear proper clothing that will help you stand out, especially when riding at night. The more you stand out the more likely to be seen and the lower chances of an accident.
Obey the speed limits. Speed limits are assigned to all roads for the purpose of safety. Yes, it is cool to go really fast and speed down the road and getting that adrenaline rush always seems to give you a high. Keep those speeds to the track days! Speeding through traffic and on highway roads is very dangerous. Public roads have uneven surfaces, debris, cars and trucks, traffic, reflectors, and other hazards that make it unsafe. The last thing is, it’s highly illegal to speed and you will get cited for such violations.
Play “everyone is out to kill me”. What this means is to avoid as much as possible to be a target. Avoid being a target to everything and everyone. It means ride fully expecting drivers to not see you and positioning yourself to be more visible to any driver that can possibly ruin your day. Don’t play “Everyone is out to chase me”, that game is meant for the race track.
Be friendly. Most drivers hate motorcyclists maining because they don’t have a motorcycle to ride. Actually the reason most motorists don’t like motorcyclists is because they get very close to their cars and if they get even a nic on their car from your motorcycle they will try to stop you. Be a courteous motorcyclist and do the right thing if you do damage someone’s vehicle, after all, you would hate them if you were in their shoes.
Have fun and ride safely. One last thing, if you are injured in a motorcycle accident call The Reinecke Law Firm for a free accident consultation at (800) 275-8326. The Reinecke Law Firm has helped thousands of motorcyclists recover from their accidents and has the knowledge to help you with your case.
Many people dream of getting a motorcycle and many do make the plunge in the purchase. Some people try to stay on top of the latest and greatest and others just buy what they can afford and look cool, whatever your reason for buying a motorcycle there is a good chance that you should take into consideration when purchasing a motorcycle. Below are 15 safety tips for new or returning riders.
Motorists are everywhere these days and it is easy for anyone to become distracted while driving and of course an accident will probably occur sometime. Whether you are on your motorcycle commuting to work or going for a joy ride, anything can happen so it is best practice to be ready and have the right coverage so you can recover as fast as possible in case of the unthinkable from happening.
There are millions of drivers on the roads and while it is illegal to drive without insurance many still do decide to drive without it. That is why it is important that you choose the right coverage in case one of them ends up hitting you. In this post we are going to talk about 5 reasons you should have uninsured motorist coverage on your insurance policy.
1. About 20% of drivers are uninsured in California.
This means that 2 out of every ten drivers in California is not insured and the possibility of receiving anything from them, in the case of an accident, can all fall on you, from medical bills to totaling your vehicle or motorcycle.
2. Insufficient Insurance.
Minimum insurance liability limits can be controlled by the state but even those numbers won’t guarantee you’ll be fixed in a serious injury. In California the minimum limits for insurance is $15,000 per person, $40,000 for all persons involved, and $10,000 for property damage. That may be okay for a small collision but it is definitely not enough for a serious collision nor will it cover all the expenses of all the injuries and medical bills. Your car is probably worth more than $10,000 too.
3. You are not covered under Liability Insurance.
Your insurance policy will not protect you in a not-at-fault collision or accident where you have been injured.
4. It makes sense to be over protected than have regrets of being under protected in any case of an accident.
Uninsured/ Underinsured coverage is pretty affordable and can help you with accidents that are considered not-at-fault. You can even get coverage limits just as high as you are in the case of an accident that your at-fault.
Another good thing is that it will cover your family members or passengers that are riding with you and can also include loss of income for all your passengers or family members in the case of an accident.
5. With Uninsured Motorists Coverage you are safe even outside your car.
Imagine that you are in an accident in your friend’s car and an uninsured motorist is involved, you will be covered in that accident. Or even if you are walking or riding down the street and are hit by someone who does not have insurance, you are still covered by your UM/UIM insurance policy.
Be smart and protect yourself with some higher coverage. You won’t have much to lose in the long run and you can’t afford NOT to include it in your policy. You will be happier and more confident knowing that you will be covered in the case of a serious accident.
If you are ever in a serious accident seek medical help first and then call The Reinecke Law Firm for a free case evaluation at (800) 275-8326. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or property damages. The Reinecke Law Firm has helped thousands of motorcyclists in the state of California recover from motorcycle accidents. Do not hesitate to call immediately.
When it comes to numbers in fatal crashes and accidents on motorcycles and automobiles that alcohol or other drugs has a good chance of being involved in one of the parties. Nearly 40% of all vehicle fatalities is due to drugs or alcohol. Of all these accidents nearly all of them could have been avoided had they not been under-the-influence.
When someone is found guilty of being under-the-influence while driving or riding a motorcycle in California, their license is suspended for at least 6 months for the first offense. Many motorcyclists believe that they can justify that a motorcycle can not do as much damage as a car and that it shouldn’t or can’t be the same violation as a motorist. This is completely false. A motorcyclist would face the same punishment a motorist would had he been driving under-the-influence.
In Los Angeles County the court would also add an Ignition Interlock Devices or IID in their vehicle for at least 5 months after the suspension. These devices are installed for around $100-$150 and can cost $2.50 each day for operation. However, these devices are not designed to work on motorcycles, which can be a problem if your motorcycle is your only source of transportation.
Riding a scooter or a moped while impaired, you can still be charged with a criminal misdemeanor even though the device is not considered a “motor vehicle”.
If you have to drink, do it responsively and hang up the keys. Call a friend or a taxi to get you home safely or else it could end up being your last night out. Never drive or steer a motor vehicle if you are impaired from alcohol or drugs in your system.
If you are ever involved in an accident call The Reinecke Law Firm for a free case evaluation at (800) 275-8326. The Reinecke Law Firm has helped thousands of motorcyclists with their accidents and will help you the best they can to make a full recovery.
If you are reading this posting it probably means that you have purchased a motorcycle and you want to hit the road and meet new people or you are new at riding in groups and need to know how to ride in a group. You have come to the right place for learning.
1. The first thing you want to do is organize the ride. This can be as informal as standing around in a parking lot, or as formal as a special meeting to hand out maps and cellphone numbers.
2. Remember that riding in a group does not mean you surrender any decision-making when it comes to your safety. Ride your own ride, and don’t go any faster than you feel comfortable going. Large groups carry more risks of injury and crashing.
3. When picking your route and the stops you’ll make along it, consider the stamina of the group, the experience of all the riders, and the limits of the motorcycles in the group. Remember, these are your friends. If it’s going to be a long ride, be sure to take a few breaks along the way.
4. You’ll need to communicate while on the ride, so make sure everyone knows the signals you’ll use. Make the signals simple, some suggestions are in the image below.
5. When creating your formation, it’s wise to have your experienced riders at the lead and running sweep. Consider positioning the less-experienced riders immediately behind the leader. This allows the front rider to adjust the pace if necessary.
6. Ideally, the sweep rider will have a cellphone to call for help if a motorcycle is disabled, or if there has been an accident.
7. If the goal of the ride is to keep the group together, the leader should only go at the pace of the least-experienced rider.
8. While riding, don’t fixate on the motorcycle in front of you. Instead, remember your basic training. Look well through the turn to where you want to go.
9. If the group is riding faster than you are comfortable with, let the sweep rider know you’re dropping out and ride at your own pace. So you may reach your destination a few seconds behind the others, but you will get there, and that’s what’s important. Keep in mind, it’s all about fun.
10. All riders are also responsible for making sure their motorcycles are mechanically up to the task. Before you even meet up with the group, make sure you’ve got plenty of fuel in the tank, and that you’ve taken care of all maintenance issues. Not sure what to check? Use T-CLOCS. You really don’t want to be the reason for stopping the group for something mechanical you could have prevented.
11. If it’s going to be a large group, consider establishing a buddy system among the riders, or divide the group into smaller five- or seven-rider packs. That way, if something goes wrong, you don’t have 25 motorcycles sitting on the side of a busy highway. Also, smaller groups can more easily navigate through city streets.
12. On the road, motorcyclists should have at least a 2-second cushion in front and behind them. If you want to keep the group tight, consider a staggered formation. Leave enough room per lane so each rider can maneuver side-to-side if need be. Avoid side-by-side formations as they shrink your space cushion.
13. Trikes and sidecars should stay in the center of the lane, and should be given the same amount of cushion as if they were a car. Never lane-share or lane split on a trike or sidecar.
14. As turns get sharper, or as visibility decreases, move back to a single file formation. You’ll also want to use single file when entering or exiting a highway, at toll booths, or when roads have a rough or questionable surface.
15. At intersections where you’ve come to a stop, tighten the formation to side-by-side to take up less space. As the light turns green, or when traffic opens up, the bike on the left proceeds through the intersection first.
16. Remember we share the road with many other vehicles, and it’s against the law to block an intersection.
17. When parking, try to get the group off the roadway as quickly as possible. If you can, arrange in advance to have pull-through parking at your destination, or at the very least, make sure there is ample parking for your size group.
18. Hold on tight and have lots fun riding with your friends and Staying Safe. Ride like you want to ride again tomorrow.
If you or a loved one are ever in a motorcycle accident contact The Reinecke Law Firm immediately at (800) 275-8326 for a free case evaluation, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The Reinecke Law is proud to represent motorcyclists in the community for 30 years.
Lane sharing or splitting is legal in the state of California and should be legal in every state. As much as you think that we are saying this just for the good business for motorcycle lawyers, there is great safety in lane splitting when done correctly and without other motorists attempting to get in the way. For the majority of the motorcyclists lane-splitting, it can be done safely and without any problems. Unfortunately only a few motorcyclists have to make it seem like they own the roads and give the bad rep to the rest of the motorcycle community. Most motorcyclists just want to enjoy their time and freedom of being on their iron horse. The problem is that it only takes a few motorcyclists and bad decisions to make people hate all people on motorcycles.
California is the only state that has no laws that prohibit lane-sharing and several motorcyclists in other states have been trying to be the same. There used to be a 10 mph limit to land splitting that has since been removed allowing riders to ride at any speed while lane splitting. This can be good and bad.
Pros of Lane-splitting:
- Quickly and Efficiently avoid waiting in traffic
- Cools down air-cooled motorcycles from overheating
- Prevents rear-end collisions from happening
- Cools the rider down from riding with heavy clothing
- Saves fuel and Time
Cons of Lane-Splitting:
- Dangerous at high speeds
- Broken Mirrors and Scratches on cars
- Lane Changing Vehicles
- Opened Doors
- Angered or Startled Motorists
- Riding in blind spots
- Motorcyclist to be liable majority in an accident
Whether you are a motorist or a motorcyclist you have to watch out for each other and make good decisions, not illegal moves such as crossing in and out of the carpool lane when the lane is closed. Motorcyclists are practically exposed with no cage or coverage around them to protect them from harm like a vehicle. A motorcyclist hitting another car or vice versa can have significant damage to motorcyclist and cause them to be ejected in the air. A motorist that disobeys the law will be found at fault nearly every time.
Motorists that are angry or jealous of motorcycles are considered highly dangerous to as they can swerve to hit a motorcyclist and cause an accident. It is illegal to get in the way of a motorcyclist even if you were startled or angered as they ride by you.
Lane splitting can still be cited even though there are no given limitations specified in the law about what is legal or not. A police officer may cite you if you are lane splitting or straddling the line in an unsafe manner. It is possible for you to receive a citation because of a biased police officer.
In a poll given to motorists, there were many who claimed that they did not know that it was legal to lane-split or lane-share and thought it was a unacceptable action. That is quite alarming considering how many motorists that are on the highways today.
Some good general guidelines for safe lane-splitting are found on The California Motorcyclist Safety Program pdf here. Although they are not laws but some guidelines you’d be a lot safer by abiding by them than without them.
If you or a loved one have been in a recent motorcycle accident call The Reinecke Law Firm for a free case evaluation at (800) 275-8326. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages.