Some may argue that the scenic views of the beautiful state of South Carolina are best appreciated from the back of a motorcycle. Those who ride motorcycles, whether for practical transportation or for pure enjoyment, know that a motorcycle is more than just a way to get around. The rider community is built on a shared affinity for the vehicle, and sometimes even more so on the culture and camaraderie that grow out of this pursuit. But most people are also aware of the dangers that motorcyclists face, particularly as bikers share the roads with much larger cars, trucks, tractor-trailers, and other enclosed vehicles.
In 2019, research revealed that motorcyclists were 29 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to be killed in a crash, and were four times more likely to be injured, based on number of miles on the road. One of the primary reasons for this frightening statistic is that motorcyclists are provided only very minimal protection by their vehicles. Traveling in the open air, one of allures that makes motorcycle travel attractive to so many people, creates a perilous situation for the rider. No matter how a motorcycle is struck, the likelihood that it will be knocked to the ground is extremely high. As a result, a victim may sustain severe head trauma or other debilitating physical injuries, and is at high risk of being hit or crushed by another vehicle.
Wearing a safe, well-fitted helmet can considerably reduce the risk of serious head or brain injury for motorcycle accident victims. However, not everyone chooses to wear a helmet every time they ride a motorcycle. In the state of South Carolina, adults 21 and over can legally make their own choice regarding whether to wear a helmet.
While helmet use is highly advised to promote safety for riders and passengers, there may be circumstances under which a person is not wearing a helmet and is unfortunately involved in an accident caused by another vehicle’s driver. In such cases, it is possible to file a claim against a negligent driver, even if you were not wearing a helmet. Not wearing a helmet can complicate your case, however, so it is recommended that you get in touch with a qualified motorcycle accident lawyer before taking any further steps.
How Helmet Use Affects Motorcycle Claims in South Carolina
South Carolina motorcycle helmet laws are unique in that they only require riders and passengers under 21 to wear helmets. Individuals under 21 who ride a motorcycle (as operator or passenger) without a helmet therefore do so illegally. But despite the legal leeway in this area for adults over 20, those involved in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet can encounter obstacles when dealing with insurance companies.
Insurance adjusters may try to argue that the severity of your injury was a direct result of your choice to not wear a helmet, particularly if your injury is head, face, neck, or brain-related. Seeking medical attention immediately following the injury, maintaining accurate medical records, attending all appointments, and strictly following physicians’ orders can help support your claim. It is also important to refrain from posting about the accident on social media, as even seemingly insignificant details can be used by insurance companies to prove that you are not injured, that your injuries are not as severe as you claim, or that your injuries were caused by some fault of your own.
Your attorney will also walk you through South Carolina’s comparative negligence laws and how that will affect your compensation amount. Comparative negligence means that both parties can be at fault in an accident, and a percentage is assigned to describe each party’s negligence. For example, it may be decided that the other driver is 80% at fault, and you are 20% at fault. The compensation you can receive will then be reduced by your percentage of fault. South Carolina also adheres to a 51% rule, which means that you cannot receive any compensation at all if it is determined that you are more than 50% at-fault in the incident.
In sum, it is not uncommon for insurance companies to attempt to reduce the compensation you receive based on the fact that you did not wear a helmet. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can be a great benefit in this situation, serving as an advocate to protect you from being denied compensation in an accident for which you were not responsible.
Benefits of Wearing a Helmet
Wearing protective headgear does not only help your motorcycle accident claim. Much more importantly, helmet use keeps motorcyclists and passengers a great deal safer on the road.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), head injuries are the main cause of death, severe injury, and disability among motorcyclists. Wearing a helmet can help protect motorcycle riders in the following ways:
- Decrease likelihood of mortality by almost 40%
- Reduce risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Reduce severity of head, neck, brain, and facial injuries
- Protect from weather and wind damage
- Reduce noise and glare
- Increase ability of other drivers to see the motorcyclist
- Decrease the cost of injury-related healthcare post-accident
- Decrease the amount of time spent in the hospital after injury
The Solomon Law Group Protects Motorcyclists
As a member of The National Academy of Motorcycle Injury Lawyers, our firm has the expertise to advise you on how to best recover the losses you incurred in a motorcycle accident. We’ll investigate your case, walk through options with you, and help you determine what amount of compensation you need to fully recover your losses. We invite you to reach out today to get in touch with a member of our team. We can answer your questions and offer solid legal advice, and we never take payment up front for an obligation-free consultation at our firm.