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 Motorcycle Accident 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.
At Riders Law Group, we are experienced South Carolina motorcycle accident lawyers. Getting compensated for a motorcycle accident is a complex and intricate process. Our law firm has been representing injured victims throughout South Carolina for years.
Lawyer for Motorcycle Accidents in South Carolina
Motorcycles have a right to be treated equally on the roads. They have a right to be there. Unfortunately, other drivers may not always be careful enough.
Because of the relatively small size of a motorcycle, any crash can be very serious for the motorcycle rider. The victim may claim compensation for their injuries.
Going about getting that compensation may seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. We are proud to represent motorcycle accident victims in South Carolina. He and his team will walk with you and work for you through the entire process.
What is the case worth? What if I have future medical needs? Can I get compensation for lost work? How do I value my pain and suffering? Our South Carolina motorcycle accident lawyers are here to answer these questions and pursue your claim.
The Riders Law Group is a full-service team of experienced professionals. To begin, contact us at (843) 310-4949 or complete our case evaluation form.
Types of Motorcycle Injuries
A motorcycle rider faces two collisions when a crash occurs – there is the impact with the other vehicle, and there is the impact of the road. The impact can easily tear through layers of clothing to cause injuries that will take a long time to heal. Your injuries may change your life completely.
Some common motorcycle injuries include:
- Paralysis; spinal cord injuries
- Brain injuries including puncture wounds, fractures and concussion
- Broken bones, especially in the ribs, arms, wrists, hips and legs
- Road rash and whiplash
- Organ damage; internal bleeding and bruising
What If I’m Blamed for the Motorcycle Accident?
Remember the insurance company doesn’t want to pay you. Don’t panic if they blame you for the motorcycle accident. You can fight back against their allegations. If necessary, you can bring a claim to court for a neutral party to hear the case and decide. Usually, by building strong evidence, our motorcycle compensation lawyers can negotiate a fair settlement, even if the insurance company starts by blaming the victim.
Insurance Companies Don’t Watch Out for Motorcyclists
Insurance is a business. It’s common for them to want to blame the motorcycle rider. They may simply try to rely on your inexperience in the legal system to get you to agree to an amount that is too low.
If the insured party is responsible for the accident, they owe you compensation. It’s that simple. There’s no deduction or exception for a motorcycle rider. Riding a motorcycle doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve fair treatment. Our lawyers know the obstacles that motorcycle riders face, and we know how to counter them as we pursue compensation in your case.
South Carolina Motorcycle Insurance Policies
Anyone with a registered vehicle in South Carolina must have minimum liability insurance. Our lawyers investigate what insurance policies apply.
Usually, once we investigate the case, we write a demand letter. That’s a carefully drafted document that formally states your right to compensation and the basis for the amount. In response, the insurance company may pay the claim, deny it, or make a counter-offer.
At this point, we evaluate the response and determine the best course of action. When you work with us, you have a team of experienced negotiators as well as legal counsel to guide you through making the best decisions at each stage of the case.
How Can a Motorcycle Lawyer Help?
Don’t let the insurance company take advantage of you. Our motorcycle lawyers know how to put a price tag on intangible losses that you suffer like physical pain, disfigurement, humiliation and changes in lifestyle. In addition, we can raise and respond to complex legal and factual issues that may be critical to reaching a fair result.
Liability in South Carolina Motorcycle Accidents
To receive compensation for a motorcycle accident, you must prove that the other driver is at fault. There are a variety of reasons they may be at fault, including:
- Not watching out for whether motorcyclists are present
- Driving while distracted or tired
- Pulling into an intersection when the motorcyclist has the right of way
- Trying to cut off or impede the motorcyclist from riding
- Driving too fast in an area where motorcyclists are present
- Speeding, careless driving, reckless driving
Our lawyers know how to question witnesses and work with accident reconstruction experts to identify the underlying causes of a motorcycle accident.
Recoverable Damages in a South Carolina Motorcycle Accident
There are lots of types of losses from a motorcycle accident. South Carolina law recognizes that and allows you to claim a variety of recoverable damages:
- Medical expenses including surgery, hospital bills, ambulance cost, tests, imaging, therapy, home care and future care
- Lost wages, past and future, including benefits
- Damage to your motorcycle and riding gear
- Other personal property damage
- Out of pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death compensation
Are there any South Carolina motorcycle laws that could affect my claim?
Several South Carolina motorcycle laws could affect your claim:
- You may still receive some compensation even if you are found to be partially at fault. If you are 51% or more at fault, you cannot receive compensation
- There is a three-year deadline to file a claim
- A motorcycle accident victim has a right to a trial – you may screen jurors for bias against motorcyclists as part of the trial process
- At trial, you have the right to call witnesses and testify on your own behalf
- There are procedures for presenting evidence and pursuing your case.
An experienced South Carolina motorcycle accident lawyer understands all these laws and tasks needed to make your claim a success.
Can I handle my case on my own?
You may be able to handle your case on your own, but the court has to treat you the same as if you had a lawyer. One mistake could ruin your case. When you’re injured in a motorcycle accident, you have one chance to get the right amount of compensation. Our experienced lawyers can give you the assurance that your case is in good hands.
How can I keep safe on the road?
Even though motorcyclists have a right to equal use of the roads, it’s always important to be wary of others. Always wear a helmet and safety gear, whether or not it is required. Obey traffic laws and leave enough following distance for other vehicles that may be nearby.
Contact a South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
There’s only a short amount of time to build a motorcycle accident claim. We have established a dynamic law practice, helping individuals throughout South Carolina.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a motorcycle accident, we can assist you with our skill, experience and aggressive representation in the compensation process.
Contact us at (843) 310-4949 or send a message through our case consultation form.