$35,000 settlement in disputed motorcycle accident case

My client was driving his motorcycle to work in Thursday morning traffic westbound on the 105 freeway in the carpool lane.  That is when a driver suddenly changed lanes from the fast lane, over double yellow lines, into the carpool lane.  My client slammed on his brakes and slid his bike down into the rear of the driver’s vehicle.  My client suffered some road rash and a relatively minor shoulder injury that improved with cortisone injections.

CHP arrived on the scene and investigated the crash. The CHP traffic collision report blamed the crash entirely on the at-fault driver that crossed over double yellow lines.  The at-fault driver’s insurance company, however, relied on the statement of another driver to place 50% fault on my client.

Apparently, my client had passed this other driver in the carpool lane moments before the crash.  This other driver was clearly biased against motorcycle riders.  He told the police on the scene that he believed the crash was primarily my client’s fault despite the at-fault driver changing lanes and crossing over double yellow lines.  This gave the insurance carrier an excuse to place 50% liability on my client, despite the investigating officer’s report.

I quickly gathered my client’s medical records and prepared a demand letter for my client.  I presented a UC Berkley study on motorcycle safety to the at-fault insurance company explaining that lane-splitting appears to be a relatively safe practice if done in traffic moving at 50 mph or less, and if motorcyclists do not exceed the speed of other vehicles by more than 15 mph.I also presented verdicts from other cases showing that jurors tend to agree with the motorcycle driver in other collisions similar to this one.In the end, the insurance company was forced to accept 100% liability for the crash.