Because motorcycles are small and difficult to see, drivers of other vehicles may cause accidents even when motorcycle drivers are being careful. Unfortunately, these accidents cause injuries or deaths about 80% of the time according to NHTSA.
Motorcycle drivers have the same right to safe passage on South Carolina’s roads as drivers of any other vehicle. If someone else’s negligence injured you or a loved one, contact Shealey Law Firm to speak with a motorcycle accident lawyer in Columbia, SC.
Reasons You May Need a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Motorcycle accidents in Columbia, SC, happen for a variety of reasons.
Drug or alcohol use
Impaired drivers have slower reaction times and make poor decisions that can lead to accidents. About 27% of fatal motorcycle accidents involve an impaired driver.
The faster someone is driving, the less time they have to take action to avoid an accident and the more damage they are likely to do when they cause an accident. Excessive speed is a factor in about 34% of fatal motorcycle crashes.
Unsafe driving maneuvers
Distracted or careless drivers can miss a motorcycle in the lane next to them. Because of this, cars turning left in front of motorcycles or changing lanes into a motorcycle are common causes of accidents.
Impatient drivers may follow motorcycles too closely. When a motorcycle must stop suddenly due to traffic or an obstruction in the road, tailgating drivers may rear-end it.
Road hazards, such as potholes, uneven pavement or loose gravel, may cause motorcycle drivers to lose control of their vehicles. In some cases, the government entity responsible for maintaining the road may be liable for damages that occur because of road hazards.
Weather can affect road conditions and visibility. Wet pavement may increase stopping times and reduce traction. Rain or bright sunshine may make it more difficult to see obstacles or other vehicles.
South Carolina residents must demonstrate a basic level of competency to obtain a motorcycle license. However, about a third of all motorcycle accidents involve unlicensed drivers.
Trust our motorcycle accident lawyers to conduct a thorough investigation that can identify the cause of your accident and who was at fault.
Important Motorcycle Laws in South Carolina
Failing to comply with the law does not automatically make an accident your fault, but it can impact how much compensation you can recover. It is important to be aware of the relevant motorcycle laws in South Carolina.
Motorcycle operators and passengers who are under the age of 21 must wear helmets approved by the Department of Highways and Public Transportation. These helmets must have a neck or chin strap and reflectors on both sides of the head. Additionally, riders in this age group must wear a face shield or goggles unless they are riding a motorcycle equipped with an approved windscreen.
Riders aged 21 or older, do not have to wear a helmet. However, doing so can reduce your risk of head injury by 69% and your risk of dying by 37%.
Passengers are only allowed on motorcycles designed to carry more than one person. All passengers must have their own seat or place on a seat designed for two and footrests.
Motorcycle drivers must sit facing forward with both legs astride the motorcycle. Drivers must be able to keep both hands on the handlebars and may not carry packages, food or other items that prevent this.
Lane splitting or occupying the same lane as another vehicle is illegal in South Carolina. No more than two motorcycles may ride abreast in the same lane.
All motorcycles must have a rearview mirror. Passengers or cargo may not obstruct the driver’s view from this mirror.
Injuries From Motorcycle Accidents in Columbia
Because motorcycle occupants do not have the protection of a vehicle around them, collisions often result in a variety of serious injuries:
- Broken bones
- Head and brain injuries
- Spine and neck injuries
- Road rash and burns
- Strains and sprains
The impact of a car, fixed object or the roadway with a motorcycle rider’s body can also cause internal organ injuries, internal bleeding, loss of limb and disfigurement. Motorcycle occupants represent about 14% of traffic fatalities nationwide and 13% in South Carolina. Riders over the age of 50 account for 37% of all motorcycle accident deaths.
Safety equipment, such as helmets, goggles, gloves and jackets, can reduce the severity of common injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends all motorcycle occupants wear helmets and completely cover their arms and legs with fabric made from leather or heavy denim. Additionally, wearing brightly colored clothing and reflective materials can make you more visible to other drivers.
Damages Motorcycle Accident Victims Can Recover
A motorcycle accident lawyer in Columbia SC may be able to help you recover damages for:
- Medical bills
- Long-term disability
- Lost wages and future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
In cases where the at-fault party was grossly negligent, the judge may award punitive damages. Courts award punitive damages to punish a defendant for wrongdoing and discourage future wrongdoing, rather than to compensate the plaintiff for damages.
Steps To Take After a Motorcycle Accident
There are a number of important steps to take after a motorcycle accident.
Identify the at-fault party
If the accident involved more than one vehicle, usually one of the drivers will be the primary cause. However, if poor road conditions, malfunctioning traffic signals or defective equipment contributed, there could be more than one party responsible. A third party may also share fault in some types of single-vehicle collisions.
South Carolina’s negligence law allows plaintiffs to recover compensation as long as they were 50% or less at fault. Even if you are partially responsible for your damages, you may still be able to recover the portion someone else is responsible for.
To win your case, you need evidence that proves the fault of the other party and the extent and cause of your injuries. Common types of evidence include police reports, photographs, medical records, and eyewitness and expert testimony.
File an insurance claim or lawsuit
You may file a claim against the liability insurance of the responsible party or file a lawsuit. Many people choose to first file an insurance claim and then pursue a lawsuit if the insurance company denies the claim or does not offer a fair settlement.
Hire a lawyer
Insurance companies deal with accidents daily, but most accident victims do not. This puts you on unequal footing. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you in multiple ways:
- Determine who is at fault
- Identify insurance or other financial resources
- Gather evidence
- Prove the extent of your injuries
- Calculate the value of your case
A Columbia motorcycle accident attorney at our firm can also negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. Insurance companies can use anything you tell them against you. Working with an attorney can help you avoid these common pitfalls.
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Columbia, SC
If you need a motorcycle accident attorney to represent you against the insurance companies, Shealey Law Firm provides aggressive litigation for cases like yours. Contact us at 803-590-3917 to schedule a free consultation 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or submit our online contact form and we will get back to you as soon as we’re able.