California Accident Attorney Busts Motorcycle Myths

This video features Claude Wyle, a Personal Injury attorney based in California.

Is Lane Splitting Legal? Should You Lay the Bike Down if You’re About to Crash?

Video Transcript:

Claude Wyle: 

I am tired of all the misconceptions and myths that are frankly a bunch of hogwash about motorcycles and motorcycle cases.

Rob Rosenthal: 

So when it comes to motorcycle riders and motorcycle crashes, it seems like there's a lot of misconceptions floating around, so on today's episode of "Ask the Lawyer", our goal is to try to clear up those misconceptions. My guest is San Francisco attorney Claude Wyle, who is a rider himself and has spent many years helping motorcyclists injured in accidents and he's a great one to talk to about all of this. First off, I wanna remind you, though, if you wanna ask Claude questions of your own, go to askthelawyers.com. Click the button up at the top that says Ask a Lawyer. You can fill out the very simple form there. It doesn't cost anything to ask your questions. Or you can simply call the phone number that you'll see on the screen while Claude and I have our conversation. Claude, it's good to see you as always, thank you for helping us out.

Claude Wyle: 

Rob, it's so good to see you, and I'm really, really excited about this interview because I am tired of all the misconceptions and myths that are frankly a bunch of hogwash about motorcycles and motorcycle cases. So let's get going.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Perfect. Well, true/false tests were always my favorite in school 'cause I figured I had a 50/50 chance, so we're gonna do it as a true/false test. First one, true or false, Claude. Lane splitting is illegal in all 50 states?

Claude Wyle: 

That's incredibly false. Now, I know it's legal in one other state other than California, but California is leading the way. In California, lane splitting, lane sharing, lane filtering, whatever you wanna call it, is 100% legal, as long as you do it in a safe and prudent manner. The guidelines from this California Highway Patrol are no longer in effect. There is no longer a page on lane splitting in the California Department of Motor Vehicles handbook, but we have the ideas. What we have is the guidelines from before. And we also know what is reasonable and prudent, and we know what's acceptable behaviour for a motorcyclist when they're lane splitting. And more important than that, we know technically when is a motorcycle lane splitting versus when they're just in control of their lane.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Okay, question number two. Lane splitting causes a lot of traffic accidents and collisions, true or false?

Claude Wyle: 

That is the exact opposite of true. That is false. The most recent national study was conducted right here, right across the bay. I can see right out my window to The Campanile over at UC Berkeley, and their study showed that lane splitting being legal actually reduces the amount of motorcycle collisions. Think about it. If motorcyclists can lane split or lane filter or lane share and get out of the roadway, get out of the way, they are no longer there to be hit. They're no longer there so that drivers can say, "Oh, I just didn't see them." Lane splitting actually removes the motorcyclist from the danger, and the danger really is the other drivers. So did I make myself clear on that? The study from the University of California Berkeley states that lane splitting makes the road more safe for motorcyclists and everybody else, frankly.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Wow, okay, great. See, we're already clearing things up here, Claude. Next question. In a collision, motorcycle versus car, helmets wouldn't help anyway, so what's the point of wearing? There's no reason to wear them. True or false?

Claude Wyle: 

False. That statement is insanity. I know that helmet laws are not in effect in all states in the country, and I know that helmet laws are not even that popular amongst people who wanna feel more free when they ride a motorcycle, but the statistics are very, very clear. Motorcycle helmets, when they're DOT approved, when they have adequate padding, adequately tough shells and they have adequate straps to keep them on, when they're functioning the way they're supposed to function, they reduce head injury and death by leaps and bounds, exponentially by a multiplying factor. I was a motorcycle lawyer when we didn't have helmet laws, and I can tell you right now that we had a lot more serious brain injury cases calling us up, the families of these people. Even in collisions that didn't seem that serious. Helmets save lives. Helmets save brains. Get yourself a good helmet, a DOT approved helmet, and don't skimp on the price of a helmet because you shouldn't skimp because that's your mind, it's your brain, it's your whole life. 

Rob Rosenthal: 

Great, moving on. Next question, Claude, and this one is very specifically tied to bike riders. You should lay the bike down if you think a crash is imminent, that's the safest thing for you to do. Is that true or false?

Claude Wyle:

It's false. Now, I used to think the same kind of thing because people would talk about, "Oh, I got knocked down on the freeway, so I just laid my bike down and I slid down the road for a hundred feet and that helped out." No, you wanna keep your wheels or your tires on the pavement and when your bike goes down, you don't want to slide on it. You want to get away from it. Many, many injuries are caused by somebody's bike catching on the pavement when it stops sliding, all of a sudden, the bike is tumbling, tangling you up, breaking legs, breaking backs, doing terrible things to you. And as someone who's actually gone down on the track, I can tell you it's a lot safer to get the motorcycles away from your sliding body than it is to slide with the motorcycle or lay it down. Laying it down is a bad idea. Try to stay on your bike. Your bike's engineering has been designed to try to help you. It does you no good sliding on its side, and if you're anywhere near that bike, when the peg catches or the handlebar or something else catches, so the bike flips up, when it catches traction again and it flips up, if you're anywhere near that bike you're gonna get hurt by your own bike.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Awesome advice. Love that. Let's say, after the collision, here is one, Claude. You're better off dealing with the insurance company on your own rather than having an attorney help you out. True or false?

Claude Wyle: 

That is also false. Rob, I think in any motor vehicle collision, it's a better idea to have a lawyer. Now it all depends what kind of lawyer you have. If you go to a lawyer and all they deal with is mass torts or mass advertising, high volume, then maybe you're really gonna get taken care of by a paralegal and it's not gonna be that great. But if you go to someone who actually has a relationship with their clients, who actually is an advocate themselves for their clients, they will do such a better job. Because remember, the insurance company representative is not there to help you get money from the insurance company. They are there to resolve claims for the best deal they can get for the carrier. And even if they're nice people, even if they like you, that doesn't mean they're working for you against their own boss. They're professionals. You need a professional to help you. And frankly, if you have a motorcycle collision, you need a motorcycle lawyer, somebody who knows their way around the dynamics of a crash.

Claude Wyle: 

And my partner, George, and I have been riding our whole lives, our whole lives. Now, at this point, it's kind of a long time, but we've also been handling motorcycle cases our whole lives and our advocacy makes a tremendous difference to our clients. Many lawyers, they wanna handle motorcycle cases, but they would never sit on a motorcycle and actually ride one. They are already afraid. The clients that they have for motorcycle cases are already at a disadvantage. Much better to hire someone who understands what it's like to ride a motorcycle, what choices a motorcyclist has on the roadway, what choices a motorcycles has when adverse things happen, when they're faced with a hazard. We know what the motorcyclist should probably do in almost all the situations because we've encountered them over the last 30 years. We encounter them over and over again. So the last question is one big false with an underline for motorcycle cases. You cannot just deal with the adjuster because the adjuster probably thinks all motorcycle riders are crazy, if not stupid.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Wow. Alright, last one, Claude. Here we go. Last true or false question. If you're injured in a collision on your motorcycle, it's best to wait a little while, see how bad your injuries really are before you get an attorney involved. True or false?

Claude Wyle: 

Well, I think if you don't have very much in the way of injury and you don't need to be taken by an ambulance, you might wanna figure out whether or not you're really hurting, whether it's worth making a claim. But sadly, most motorcyclists are hurt worse than most automobile or truck or bus occupants, and so most motorcyclists suffer pretty serious injuries, and they know it right away. When you hire a lawyer such as Choulos Choulos & Wyle, my partner, George or myself, you're hiring somebody on a contingency fee. And that means we don't charge you unless we get you a result. So if we charge a percentage based on the result, isn't it better to have a lawyer from the first week than hire them later after you've had a chance to make mistakes? After you get a call from the insurance company and they try to trick you in their recorded interview? Isn't it better to have somebody representing your interest who really understands?

Claude Wyle: 

We don't charge more. We charge a percentage anyway. So if I have a case two weeks ago or I just got the case today, it makes no difference to the client. They pay the same. So why not have the help from the beginning? Call an experienced motorcycle collision attorney and get their help right away. You'd be surprised. Sometimes we know the law so much better than most people that we can tell you, you don't have a good case or you've got a great case. Even if everybody tells you, you don't have a great case. Even if the police told you it was all your fault, we are likely to know better.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Awesome, awesome. Great. Helpful information as always, Claude. Thanks for clearing up some of those misconceptions for us.

Claude Wyle: 

Rob, any time you wanna talk about motorcycles, just give me a call.

Rob Rosenthal: 

I will do it, buddy. That's gonna do it for this episode of "Ask the Lawyer". My guest has been San Francisco attorney Claude Wyle. I remind you, if you wanna talk to Claude about your situation, ask your own questions, just go to askthelawyers.com. There's a button up at the top of the page that says Ask a Lawyer. You could fill out that form and it doesn't cost you anything to ask your questions. Thanks for watching. I'm Rob Rosenthal with "Ask the Lawyers".

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.


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