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An Overview of California Motorcycle Accident Law

Motorcyclist on the road

Motorcycle laws are more complex than other motor vehicle laws, and California has some of the most stringent laws in the nation. Since there are so many facets of the law, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney if you or someone you know is ever injured in an accident.

Here is a brief overview of motorcycle accident law in California:

  • California is the only state where “lane splitting” is legal. This means that motorcyclists are allowed to move between lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
  • California law requires all motorcyclists to wear a helmet, regardless of age.
  • Daytime headlights are required for all motorcycles manufactured after 1978.
  • Motorcyclists are required to carry insurance of at least $15,000 for injury/death to one person, $30,000 for injury/death to multiple people, and $5,000 for property damage.
  • If a motorcyclist is involved in an accident, he or she only has two years in which to file a lawsuit under the statute of limitations.

Unusual or Unique Motorcycle Laws in California

California has designated three classes of electric bicycles in order to distinguish them from motorcycles in legal contexts. An electric two-wheeled vehicle that cannot exceed the speed of 28 miles per hour can be considered a Class 3 electric bicycle, not a motorcycle. A vehicle that can achieve speeds higher than 30 miles per hour and has a seat for the rider and not more than three wheels is a motorcycle, though. To ride a Class 3 electric bicycle, you must be at least 16 years old and wear a bicycle helmet, but you do not need a driver’s license, registration, insurance, or a license plate.

California also requires that all motorists, including motorcyclists, report an accident if a serious injury or significant property damage occurred. If the total damage to all vehicles is expected to be greater than $1,000, you have to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) by filling out a Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (SR 1) form.

M1 & M2 Licenses

If you want to ride a motorcycle legally, you need to pass certification and licensing tests administered by the DMV. An M2 license only allows you to operate electric or motorized bicycles, mopeds, and scooters. An M1 license is required for operating a motorcycle, but it also allows for the operation of any vehicle permitted through an M2 license.

Need Help with a Motorcycle Injury Claim?

The Law Offices of Larry S. Buckley has an intricate understanding of California motorcycle laws and knows what it takes to be successful in a motorcycle accident case. If you have been injured in an accident through no fault of your own, we are prepared to fight on your behalf to hold the at-fault party responsible for their negligence. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients – compensation that our clients deserve to pay for damages including:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Ambulance bills
  • Cost of prescription medicine
  • Damage to your motorcycle
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering

Do not delay in putting a Northern California motorcycle accident lawyer on your side after an accident. Get the help you need by calling us at (530) 413-0245, or fill out an online contact form and we will be in touch with your shortly.

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