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Rules for Riding Motorcycles

California Motorcycle Law Can Get Tricky

Below, our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys will discuss several very important road rules all motorcyclists must be aware of to legally and safely ride on California’s roadways. If you have suffered injuries as a result of a motorcycle accident in California, the experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are always here to answer any questions you may have about motorcycle accident claims and available damages.


Safety Gear

Before going for a ride, a motorcyclist should:

  • Check throttle and levers
  • Check tire tread, air pressure, and brakes
  • Check headlights, brake lights, tail lights and signals
  • Check fluid levels and watch for leaks

A helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment for any rider. California Vehicle Code (CVC) 27803 dictates that all motorcyclists and their passengers must wear a helmet. Helmets must also be in compliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The outer shell of a helmet will protect you from abrasion and penetration, while the chinstrap will secure the helmet on your head. A face shield is also recommended.

You should also wear leather to prevent skin injuries and protect you from the elements. Gloves and boots are also recommended. 

Below are more California rules and laws regulating motorcycle safety:

  • All motorcycles are required to have both right and left mirrors, according to CVC 26709.
  • Handlebars are not permitted in a position that places a driver’s hands more than six inches above that rider’s shoulders when sitting on the seat, according to CVC 27801.
  • Front and rear turn signals are required for motorcycles built and originally registered on January 1, 1973, or after.

Lane Splitting

Lane splitting happens when a motorcycle rider goes in between two lanes in order to move more quickly through traffic. This practice was originally legalized in 2016. The state of California actually has several laws intended to protect motorcyclists who choose to lane split. 

According to CVC 22400, a driver cannot drive at such a slow speed that interrupts or blocks the normal flow of traffic, unless there is a necessary and safety related reason for doing so. Furthermore, CVC 22517 prohibits drivers from opening or leaving a car door open unless it is safe to do so and will not interrupt the flow of traffic.

Riding With Passengers

There are safety considerations to keep in mind before riding with a passenger. A motorcycle needs to be designed for an extra passenger and certain weight limits must not be exceeded. Also, there are other practical considerations as well. A motorcyclist needs to be aware of the limitations that come with carrying an extra passenger. Finally, the actual passenger needs to be aware of the risks of riding along. 

When Passing

Many motorcycle accidents occur when a driver does not see him or her, such as when a motorcyclist ends up in a driver’s blind spot. It is a good idea to be as obvious as possible when attempting to pass a vehicle. This means that a motorcyclist needs to make sure he or she is seen in a driver’s mirrors. Furthermore, it is important to signal, accelerate, and pull over the left side of a lane. Once you pass a vehicle, continue to accelerate until you have a cushion of space between you and that vehicle.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence. 

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out of pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries. 

A few examples of economic losses include:

Loss of Earning Capacity

  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain And Suffering
  • Loss Of Enjoyment Of Life

Punitive Damages

The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5% of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Contact West Coast Trial Lawyers To Find Out How We Can Help

If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a motorcycle accident, an attorney at our firm can  help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call West Coast Trial Lawyers today at (213) 927-3700 or email[email protected]to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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