Starting in about 2016, California drivers began to notice a color change on highway markings. The solid double lines that separated carpool lanes from regular lanes had previously been yellow, but they were changed to white. Although the change was a small one, it left many drivers confused because it was not announced very publicly.
We wrote a post about the switch that clarifies the reason for the change (national uniformity) and what a driver’s responsibilities are. To summarize, a solid double white line separates a regular lane from a carpool/HOV lane and indicates that drivers cannot pass in or out of that lane, except when safely moving out of the way of an approaching emergency vehicle.
A driver hit me after crossing double white lines. Who was in the wrong?
Consider the following scenario: You are riding a motorcycle in a regular lane next to the carpool/HOV lane. A driver in the carpool lane suddenly moves into your lane, crossing over double solid white lines in the process. During the lane change, the driver clips your motorcycle, causing a serious accident.
In this scenario, the driver was entirely responsible for the accident. Here’s why:
They violated a traffic law: Lane markings are not suggestions – they are mandates. A driver can only cross into or out of a carpool/HOV lane in places where the double solid white lines become double broken white lines on one or both sides. If the line is broken on just one side, the driver on that side can change lanes but other drivers cannot move into that lane.
Because the lines were double solid white, you were obeying the law by staying in your lane. The other driver made an illegal lane change, which resulted in a crash.
The driver violated their duty of care: Anyone operating a motor vehicle owes a basic duty of care to everyone else on the road. That duty includes driving in a manner that minimizes the risk of traffic accidents. Even if the lane change had been legal (which it wasn’t), the other driver was still required to carefully check their surroundings (and blind spot), signal the turn and wait to change lanes until the path was clear.
The driver’s violation of their duty of care directly caused the accident and your injuries in that accident. This would be a clear case of negligence warranting a personal injury lawsuit.
Discuss your options with a California car accident lawyer for free
In the scenario discussed above, the driver was solely at fault. But under California law, you could still pursue compensation even if you were partially to blame. If you’ve been in an auto accident and want to better understand your options, contact our firm today to take advantage of a free initial consultation.