Motorcycle Accidents & The Law In South Carolina
Numbers show that across the United States, as well here in South Carolina, the number of motorcyclists on the road has increased rather substantially in recent years. High gas prices, urban living and the appeal of the open road are all responsible for the boom in motorcycle ridership. Though motorcyclists should continue doing what they love, it is important to be fully informed about the special dangers posed by motorcycle accidents and what you should do if find yourself involved in one.
Motorcycle Injury Statistics
Though there’s a lot of romance associated with motorcycle riding, the reality can sometimes be far less glamorous. The simple fact is that those operating motorcycles are dramatically more vulnerable in the event of a serious accident than they would be if they were ensconced within the cabin of a passenger vehicle. The same feeling of freedom coveted by riders is exactly what presents the most danger. That open air only exists because there are few if any safety devices surrounding the driver to offer protection in the event of an accident.
Unfortunately, the danger to South Carolina motorcyclists is real. According to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a motorcyclist is five times more likely to suffer serious injuries in an accident than a similar person riding in a passenger vehicle. Even more sobering, both for motorcyclists and their loved ones, is the fact that motorcycles are 25 times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash than their car-riding counterparts.
Not only is injury more likely in a motorcycle accident, but the percentage of motorcycle crashes that lead to severe injuries is vastly higher than the percentage of passenger car accidents that do. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an astounding 98 percent of all motorcyclists who are involved in a crash are likely to suffer some kind of injury. Among this group, less than half (45 percent) came through with minor injuries. The remainder suffered severe, life-threatening and often debilitating injuries.
South Carolina Numbers
According to the South Carolina Office of Highway Safety, there were more than 1,800 motorcycle crashes in 2010. These crashes resulted in 81 deaths and nearly 2,000 injuries. South Carolina officials note that motorcycle accidents are significantly more likely to end in death than accidents involving other types of vehicles. For example, motorcycle crashes account for only about 1.7 percent of the total number of crashes in South Carolina every year, yet they make up 10 percent of all fatal traffic accidents, a vastly disproportionate share.
Common Motorcycle Injuries
In South Carolina, by far the most common type of motorcycle injury involves a rider’s head. Concussions and other forms of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur frequently. TBI happens when a motorcyclist’s brain smashes against the inside of his or her skull, causing bruising and sometimes bleeding. These head injuries are routine in motorcycle crashes because bikers are thrown from their motorcycles and land on hard pavement, an abrupt stop that can cause serious brain damage.
One fact that might surprise riders is that head injuries occur even among those riders who wear safety helmets. Though TBI can impact almost everyone, this doesn’t mean riders should forego wearing a helmet. On the contrary, studies have found that wearing a helmet can slash a biker’s risk of dying by nearly 40 percent, a major decrease that’s surely worth the relatively minor inconvenience.
Beyond head injuries, motorcyclists in South Carolina also routinely encounter badly broken bones, especially arms, legs, hands and shoulders. Even minor motorcycle accidents can result in road rash, an incredibly painful skin injury. Given these risks of injury, it is critical that motorcyclists take proper safety precautions such as wearing a helmet, riding jacket and other protective gear. Motorcycle riders cannot rely on the same kind of built-in safety features that those in cars have; instead, the burden of providing safety quite literally falls on the bikers’ shoulders.
Why do motorcycle accidents occur?
By now you likely understand how dangerous a Charleston, South Carolina motorcycle accident can be. You may be left wondering why the accidents occur in the first place. Some insurance claims adjusters might try and blame the accident on you, painting a picture of bikers as reckless or dangerous individuals. The reality is that the inattentive actions of other drivers are often to blame for South Carolina motorcycle wrecks.
When motorists speed down roadways in their giant cars or SUVS or change lanes quickly without first checking their blind spots, they risk killing an unsuspecting and entirely innocent motorcyclist. Though there may be a perception that bikers are the rule breakers, the reality is that the vast majority of motorcyclists carefully follow safety regulations given the substantial cost if they don’t.
Motorcycle Wreck Liability
Because the inattention of other drivers is so often the cause of South Carolina motorcycle accidents, it is common for legal liability to result from a motorcycle crash. Though another driver may be to blame, it can still be hard to prove this in court. Evidence needs to be gathered, witnesses interviewed, medical reports collected and crash data analyzed. This kind of work requires as much advance notice as possible, which is why it is so important to seek help from an experienced Charleston, South Carolina motorcycle accident attorney early on. David Aylor understands these complicated injury cases and will help construct a solid case to ensure innocent motorcyclists and their families receive the compensation they deserve.
Why are motorcycle accidents so deadly?
As we’ve already discussed, motorcycle accidents end in death far too often. One of the biggest reasons for the deadliness of this type of accident is the tremendous difference in size and weight between passenger vehicles and motorcycles. No amount of safety gear can make up for the fact that a typical SUV weighs many multiples more than a typical motorcycle. Crashes between motorcycles and other vehicles prove deadly so often because motorcyclists are so often dangerously outmatched.
Another factor that contributes to the severity of injuries associated with motorcycle crashes is the open-air design of the bikes, something that leaves the drivers exposed in the event of an accident. Without airbags or seat belts, riders are almost always thrown from the bike, hitting the pavement with terrible force. The impact then leads to brain injuries, fractured bones and internal injuries, things that are almost always avoided by occupants of passenger vehicles that are properly restrained.
How to avoid a motorcycle accident
While it’s certainly true that wearing safety gear will help improve your odds of surviving a South Carolina motorcycle accident, your best bet is to avoid the accident all together. While this may not always be within your control given the reckless actions of other motorists, it is important to be aware of your surroundings. Carefully watch other drivers and try to make sure that they see you as you approach. Avoid lingering in blind spots and try to pass vehicles quickly. Following these tips and other standard rules of the road will go a long way to increasing your safety.
What to do after a motorcycle accident
Anyone injured in a South Carolina motorcycle crash needs to understand there are some things you can do to ensure a possible future accident claim is in the best shape possible. First things first, if your physical condition allows it, call the police. You will need to report the accident to local law enforcement officials so that the accident scene, injuries and witnesses can be documented. Once the police report has been taken, seek medical attention for any injuries immediately. Even if you don’t think your injuries are that serious it is crucial to take action early on. Traumatic brain injuries can take a while for symptoms to show themselves and early medical intervention is a good way to get your injuries on record.
Finally, take time to seek out the advice of an experienced Charleston, South Carolina motorcycle accident lawyer who can help you get the compensation you deserve. A skilled attorney can stand up to insurance companies and claims agents whose first instinct may be to blame and bully injured motorcyclists for the harm they’ve suffered. Injured motorcyclists should realize that you have the same rights as the driver of a car and should not be made to feel responsible for a crash simply because you were on a motorcycle.
Riders Law Group has assisted countless injured individuals across South Carolina and helped secure damages for the harms they’ve suffered. We understand that motorcycle accidents can be scary, leaving injured bikers and their families with expensive medical bills and confusion over how to move forward. If you’ve been injured in a South Carolina motorcycle accident and have concerns, feel free to contact Riders Law Group today at (843) 276-7557.