Most motorcycle owners are responsible, hardworking individuals who practice good road safety; however, drivers of other vehicles don’t always watch for motorcyclists and may cause an accident. Since riders are not as protected as drivers of cars or trucks, crashes usually result in serious or permanent injuries, scarring (disfigurement), and sometimes even death to the rider(s). If you’ve been in a crash you didn’t cause, a Columbia, SC motorcycle accident lawyer can help.
It’s common for victims injured in a motorcycle wreck to have rapidly-mounting medical bills and be unable to work or support their families. All too often, insurance companies play on this economic need and push to settle an accident claim quickly—sometimes before you even know what your long-term medical bills will be. We hear stories all the time about unfair settlement offers that are pushed on motorcyclists.
Hiring a law firm with experience in injury cases can make the difference in your settlement’s outcome. By filing a injury claim against a guilty driver who caused the accident or an insurance company that’s offering you an unfair settlement, you can get the compensation you need to recover or obtain justice for a loved one who died in a tragic wreck.
The experienced accident attorneys at the Solomon Law Group have the skills necessary to obtain fair and just settlements for injured riders. Let’s go over some basic information about motorcycle crashes, why they occur in South Carolina, how they can be avoided, and how we can help a suffering family find the road to freedom.
What Are the Motorcycle Laws in South Carolina?
South Carolina motorcycle laws are in place to help motorcyclists enjoy safe riding. Whether you’re looking for a refresher or learning these laws for the first time, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with them before hitting the road. We’ll break the laws down by category:
- At least one side view mirror is required.
- A passenger seat and footrests are required when carrying a passenger.
- A person cannot operate a motorcycle unless it has a rear view mirror.
- Turn signals are not required but encouraged.
- There are no restrictions on handlebar height.
- All motorcycle operators and passengers under 21 must wear a helmet. Riders of any age are strongly encouraged to wear one.
- Riders under the age of 21 are required to wear appropriate eye protection, including goggles or face shield, unless their bikes are equipped with the proper windscreens.
- Helmets and eye protection must be approved by the Department of Public Safety.
- Any person operating a motorcycle should ride while sitting astride the seat, facing forward, and with one leg on each side.
- Riders cannot carry packages or bundles while driving.
- Motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane, which means no other vehicle should hinder their space.
- Bikes are allowed to operate next to each other in a single lane, however, no more than two.
- Riders are not allowed to pass vehicles in their same lane.
- All bike operators need to have the proper license to drive their vehicle.
- Lane splitting is prohibited.
Anyone found to be in violation of the laws we discussed can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and may be subject to a fine of up to $100 or no more than 30 days in jails.
What Are the Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes?
Everyone knows that riding a motorcycle is inherently risky. Motorcyclists are more at risk for serious injuries and even death due to the unprotected nature of their bikes. When a passenger vehicle or truck hits a bike at full-speed, the motorcyclist will almost always suffer from more serious injuries than the other driver.
Statistics prove this point. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclist deaths occurred 28 times more often in 2016 than fatalities in all other vehicle types. Helmets do work to decrease the number of motorcycle fatalities that occur, but they can’t stop all injuries.
In 2016, 148 motorcyclists died in traffic collisions in South Carolina, according to the South Carolina Traffic Collision Fact Book. This accounted for nearly 15% of all the motor vehicle fatalities in the state. This number may seem insignificant, but when you consider the fact that few motorcycles are on the road at any given time in comparison to passenger cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs, 15% suddenly seems much more significant.
So, why do most crashes happen? Most, unfortunately, happen due to driver or rider negligence. When a driver gets behind the wheel while distracted, for example, they are far more likely to not see a motorcycle as one crosses their path. The same can be said for riders. If a rider is paying more attention to a new storefront in the distance than to the road, they may miss a pothole or fail to see a driver turning in front of them.
Common causes of motorcycle crashes include the following:
- Lane Splitting. This happens when a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of traffic.
- Speeding greatly reduces the control a rider has over their bike, especially in inclement weather or when on poorly maintained roads.
- Sudden Stops. If a motorcycle is following someone too closely and that vehicle stops, it’s likely a rear-end accident could occur. While many rear-end crashes are minor, a motorcyclist could be thrown from their bike.
- Left Turn Accidents. Right-of-way errors while making left turns, or misjudgments of distances, or common causes of motorcycle wrecks.
- Inexperienced Drivers. Inexperienced drivers in passenger vehicles may not look for motorcycles or understand how to drive around one. An inexperienced motorcyclist may not know how their bike fully operates.
- Motorcycle Defects. When manufacturers make a mistake and poorly design or build vehicles, accidents can happen.
What Types of Injuries Are Associated With Bike Wrecks?
A motorcycle crash can result in a range of injuries, depending on the circumstances of the wreck. Some of the most common and severe injuries revolve around damage to the head and neck. If you find yourself to be the victim of a wreck, you could sustain any one of the following injuries:
- Bone fractures
- Road rash
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury
Many bike wreck victims end up facing exorbitant medical bills, lost wages from time away from work, emotional distress, and more. At Solomon Law Group, our motorcycle accident attorneys are prepared to represent you during this difficult time, and work to ensure you receive the compensation you need to deal with the financial burdens and emotional trauma associated with your crash.
What Are Some Ways to Prevent Bike Accidents?
Drivers and riders alike need to do everything they can to share the road responsibly to prevent accidents. Here are some safety tips to help you prevent an accident:
- Wear an approved helmet.
- Wear protective eye gear and clothing that is highly visible or reflective.
- Take a rider safety course specifically for motorcyclists. If you need help finding one, you can find a local course here. South Carolina residents can also enroll in a motorcycle educational program.
- Follow the rules of the road.
- Do not take passengers on your bike until you are experienced.
- Be careful when passing. Before passing a passenger vehicle, make sure your motorcycle is in the left-hand section of the lane and follow at a safe distance until actually passing.
- Drive defensively. Do not assume drivers see you. Be especially careful in residential areas where cars may be backing out of driveways.
- Stay focused on driving—not on the cell phone, radio, etc.
- Watch the road for potholes or debris that might cause you to lose control.
- Never operate a motorcycle while drunk or otherwise impaired. A whopping 43% of motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle accidents in 2014 were under the influence of alcohol.
How Can a Columbia Motorcycle Accident Help Me Recover?
If you or a loved one has sustained a serious, disfiguring, or permanent injury or has died because of a motorcycle accident, contact the Solomon Law Group for a free consultation. Our South Carolina motorcycle wreck attorneys care about our clients and will do everything we can to get you the highest settlement amount possible.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be eligible for compensation to cover your medical expenses, future care costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Get in touch with us today for more information on your legal rights and options.