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.
Please review the following new laws California passed in 2017. These laws are for the safety and concerns of the residents of California.
Sacramento – With the New Year just around the corner, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) wants to inform the public of several new laws or changes to existing law that, unless otherwise noted, take effect on January 1, 2017. The following are summaries of some transportation-related laws taking effect.
Use of Electronic Wireless Devices (AB 1785, Quirk): Driving a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or a wireless electronic communications device will be prohibited, unless the device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield or is mounted/affixed to a vehicle’s dashboard or center console in a manner that does not hinder the driver’s view of the road. The driver’s hand may only be used to activate or deactivate a feature or function on the device with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger, but not while holding it. The law does not apply to manufacturer-installed systems that are embedded in a vehicle.
Child Safety Seats (AB 53, Garcia): This law requires a parent, legal guardian, or the driver of a motor vehicle to properly secure a child who is younger than 2 years of age in an appropriate rear-facing child passenger restraint system, unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches in height (3 feet, 3 inches).
Motorcycle Lane Splitting (AB 51, Quirk): This law defines “lane splitting” as driving a two-wheeled motorcycle between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane. The law authorizes the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to develop educational guidelines relating to lane splitting in a manner that would ensure the safety of motorcyclists, drivers, and passengers. In developing these guidelines, the law requires the CHP to consult with specified agencies and organizations that have an interest in road safety and motorcyclist behavior.
Vehicle Registration Fee (SB 838, Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review): This law increases the vehicle registration fee on every vehicle or trailer coach from $43 to $53 beginning April 1, 2017.
Environmental License Plate (SB 839, Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review): This law increases the fee for the issuance of Environmental License Plates from $48 to $53, starting July 1, 2017. This law also increases the fee for the renewal, retention, transfer, or duplication of Environmental License Plates (personalized) from $38 to $43, starting January 1, 2017.
Accident Reporting (SB 491, Committee on Transportation and Housing): This law increases the minimum financial threshold for property damage that is required to be reported to the DMV from $750 to $1,000 when a driver is involved in a motor vehicle collision.
Vehicle Safety Recalls (AB 287, Gordon): This law enacts the Consumer Automotive Recall Safety (CARS) Act, and requires the DMV to include a general advisory regarding vehicle recalls and needed repairs on each vehicle registration renewal notice. This law prohibits a dealer or a rental car company from renting or loaning a vehicle with a manufacturer’s recall no later than 48 hours after receiving the notice—until the vehicle has been repaired. This law gives a limited exception for a licensed dealer or a rental car company with a fleet of 34 or fewer loaner or rental vehicles. The law authorizes the DMV to suspend or revoke a vehicle dealer’s license if they violate the CARS Act.
Year of Manufacture License Plates (SB 1429, Nielsen): This law expands the Year of Manufacture (YOM) license plate program to include vehicles and license plates manufactured through 1980. This law benefits owners of vintage motor vehicles who obtain license plates from the year corresponding to the vehicle’s model-year, and wish to use those vintage plates in lieu of regular license plates. Such plates are commonly found from different sources, including relatives, garage sales, estate sales, etc. The program will include the blue and yellow license plates issued for use on California motor vehicles from 1970 until 1980.
Background Checks of Drivers of Transportation Network Companies (AB 1289, Cooper): A transportation network company (TNC) will be required to perform a comprehensive background check of all their drivers. This law also specifies penalties for a TNC that violates or fails to comply with this requirement. A TNC will be prohibited from contracting with, employing, or retaining a driver if they are registered on the U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender public website, has been convicted of specified felonies, or within the previous seven years, has been convicted of a misdemeanor assault or battery, domestic violence, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Any TNC in violation of the specified requirements is subject to a penalty of not less than $1,000 or more than $5,000 for each offense.
Installing Counterfeit or Nonfunctional Air Bags (AB 2387, Mullin): This law prohibits knowingly and intentionally manufacturing, importing, installing, reinstalling, distributing, or selling any device intended to replace an air bag system in any motor vehicle if the device is a counterfeit or nonfunctional air bag system, or does not meet federal safety requirements. The law also prohibits selling, installing, or reinstalling any device that would cause a vehicle’s diagnostic system to fail to warn when the vehicle is equipped with a counterfeit, nonfunctional, or a case in which no air bag was installed. This violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a $5,000 fine and/or up to a one year in county jail.
If you or a loved one are ever in a motorcycle accident contact The Reinecke Law Firm at (800)275-8326 for a free case evaluation. The Reinecke Law Firm has helped thousands of motorcyclists recover from their accidents for the past 30 years and we know exactly how to help you. Do not hesitate to call today.
California’s motorcyclists could soon have clear rules on lane splitting after the state on Friday became the first in the nation to formally legalize the practice.
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation by Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) that defines the practice and authorizes the California Highway Patrol to establish rules for motorcyclists on how to do it safely.
Lane splitting has not been defined as to what is and is not legal. It has been allowed but no specifics as to how and when you may attempt the act.
Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), a retired state highway patrol sergeant who co-wrote the bill, called the new law a “groundbreaking step.”
“This is a huge win for roadway safety,” Lackey said in a statement. “We are now giving riders and motorists clear guidance on when it is safe.”
Quirk’s original bill AB-51 proposed that lane splitting could occur legally only when a motorcycle was moving no more than 15 mph faster than the traffic around it, and it prohibited the practice at speeds above 50 mph.
Several motorcyclists’ groups objected to that, saying the limit was too low. Other groups and individuals, who believe that lane splitting is dangerous regardless of speed, objected to the proposal entirely.
The revised bill, which sailed through the legislative process, provides a basic definition of “lane splitting” and leaves the rest to the CHP. Quirk has said it has many benefits, including reducing traffic congestion and promoting safety.
“I am thrilled to see that California is once again at the forefront of common-sense road safety legislation,” Quirk said. “Signing of this bill will bring legitimacy to this practice and help to keep our roads safer and our drivers – both motorcyclists and motorists – better educated.”
Check out the website LaneSplittingIsLegal.com for further details and information concerning the passing of Bill AB-51 directed to motorcycle Lane-Splitting.
And remember, if you or a loved one is ever in a motorcycle accident contact The Reinecke Law Firm for a free case evaluation. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, property damages and other entities. The Reinecke Law Firm has helped thousands of motorcyclists recover from their accidents for the past 30 years and we know exactly how to help you. Do not hesitate to call today at
In 2015, the governor of California signed the Yellow Alert Bill which is to help find the evaders of hit-and-run accidents and crashes. The bill was originally written by Mike Gatto, an assemblyman of Glendale.
“It’s a very common sense bill that statistics show would greatly reduce the amount of people who get away with this very terrible crime,” Gatto said.
Brown vetoed a similar bill that passed the Assembly last year. Gatto said that he doesn’t know why Brown signed the bill this time around, “but we’re ecstatic about it.”
“This bill will make a very, very meaningful difference, I think, in the number of people who are brought to justice,” Gatto said. “And if more people are brought to justice, I think more people will do the decent thing, and that’s stop. And realize that if you flee the scene of an accident, it’s a crime; if you stop and render aid, then it’s just an accident.”
When Brown vetoed last year’s bill, he said that he was concerned about diluting the power of Amber Alerts with other messages. Gatto said that, given that highway signs are currently used to notify drivers of the state’s drought right and to urge them save water, there should also be room for their use to notify them of hit and runs.
“Hopefully, the governor came to the same conclusion I did, which is that our network is not that burdened right now,” Gatto said.
Gatto said that the alerts would only be deployed in the area of a suspected hit-and-run, and that they wouldn’t trigger an alert to people’s cell phones.
Nearly over 40,000 car accidents in Los Angeles alone nearly half of them are classified as hit-and-run cases. In 2015 27 people were killed by hit-and-run accidents and 144 others suffered serious injuries. Of those case only a fifth of those cases were solved.
The Los Angeles bulletin system also alerts taxi-cab drivers and tells auto-body specialists to watch for vehicles coming into their shops dented or bloodied.
In addition, the city will offer standing rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of hit-and-run drivers: $50,000 for a fatal crash, $25,000 for a collision resulting in serious injury, $5,000 for an accident causing a lesser injury and $1,000 if there was property damage only.
Leaving the scene of a fatal crash or an accident that caused serious injury can lead to felony charges.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed during a hit-and-run while riding a motorcycle call The Reinecke Law Firm today for a free case evaluation at (800) 275-8326. We want to help you recover as fast as possible.