Motorcycle accidents are often catastrophic, resulting in severe injury or death, especially when they collide with larger vehicles like cars or trucks. The Beaufort motorcycle accident attorneys of Stewart Law Offices, LLC have comprehensive experience helping bikers injured due to the negligence of another person or party.
You need a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer in Beaufort, South Carolina, one who has handled accident claims and understands motorcycle laws. Contact us today by phone to schedule a no-obligation free consultation. You can also fill out the contact form on our website or chat with us live online right now.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes in Beaufort
Most motorcycles weigh less than 1,000 pounds. In contrast, the average car weighs at least four times as much, while a fully loaded commercial truck can range from 20,000 to 80,000 pounds. This considerable weight difference combined with a motorcycle’s two-wheel design means that the slightest tap or clip by a larger vehicle is often enough to knock a motorcycle onto its side.
In addition, unlike cars and trucks, motorcycles lack a sturdy structure to enclose the occupants and protect them in case of a crash. Of course, motorcycles also lack safety equipment like seat belts and air bags.
According to the Federal Highway Administration’s Motorcycle Crash Causation Study of motorcycle accidents:
- 48 percent of motorcycle crashes involving other vehicles were the result of one vehicle turning across the path of the other.
- Traffic-scanning errors by the other vehicle drivers contributed to 70 percent of crashes (in other words, not paying enough attention to other vehicles and your blind spots).
- A failure by the other vehicle driver was the primary contributing factor in 51 percent of crashes.
A recent report on motorcycle crashes by the National Transportation Safety Board listed four of the most common causes of motorcycle crashes as:
- Another vehicle turning in front of the motorcycle
- A motorcycle falling on the roadway to avoid a collision with another vehicle
- Sideswipes involving a motorcycle and another vehicle
- A motorcycle impacting the rear of another vehicle
Other common causes of motorcycle crashes include:
- Distracted vehicle drivers
- Inexperienced bikers
- Poorly maintained roads and highways
- Bad weather
Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents
Unlike the somewhat protected occupants of cars and trucks, a motorcyclist’s helmet and clothing are all that stands between body and the pavement. This lack of protection coupled with the weight difference between motorcycles and the average car or commercial vehicle makes a motorcycle accident more likely to involve serious injury or death, even at low speeds. A collision with a larger vehicle could cause a biker or any passenger to be tossed into the roadway and crushed by their motorcycle or another passing vehicle.
According to a GHSA report:
- In South Carolina in one recent year, there were 187 motorcycle fatalities (5,251 across the United States), which is 18.2 percent of the total motor vehicle deaths in South Carolina.
- Nationwide, motorcyclist fatalities occurred 28 times more often than passenger vehicle fatalities when accounting for vehicle miles traveled.
- Higher speeds are a significant factor in injury severity.
Comparing fatal motorcycle crashes to nonfatal ones:
- 50 percent of fatal crashes occurred at intersections, compared to 28 percent of nonfatal accidents.
- 48 percent of fatal crashes occurred on curves as compared to 32 percent of nonfatal ones.
- 9 percent of the motorcycle riders who crashed were wearing helmets, and 74 percent of those were wearing full-face helmets, which may be a significant factor in why most of the injuries in their study of multi-vehicle crashes were minor (38 percent) or moderate (34 percent) instead of more severe (18 percent serious, 4 percent severe, 3 percent critical, and 3 percent terminal)
South Carolina Motorcycle Laws
The differences in the law between motorcycle and motor vehicle operation in South Carolina are mostly common sense. There are, however, three exceptions you should be aware of that can contribute to accidents and injuries:
- Lane sharing or splitting, which puts a motorcycle in proximity to other vehicles, is illegal in South Carolina, as it is everywhere else in the United States except for California.
- After you come to a complete, full stop at a red traffic light for at least two minutes, it is legal to proceed through the light as though it were a stop sign, after exercising “due care” to determine that it is safe to advance, according to the South Carolina Code of Laws, Chapter 5, Article 7, Section 56-5-970(C)(5). This law also applies to mopeds and bicycles. Use extreme caution when doing so, since most car and truck drivers will have no idea this law exists and won’t be expecting a motorcycle to cross the intersection in front of them while they have a green light, potentially leading to a serious collision.
- Only riders under 21 must wear helmets, though it’s in everyone’s best interest to wear a helmet to lessen any injury regardless of the law.
Compensation for Motorcycle Accidents in Beaufort, South Carolina
When individuals are injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, another driver and several other parties could be held responsible and be subject to a personal injury claim, such as:
- The manufacturer of either vehicle could be liable if defects caused the accident or made the damages worse than they would otherwise be. (This also applies to repairs made to either vehicle by dealers or service companies.)
- If the other vehicle is a rental car, the rental company could also be responsible if they failed to inspect, maintain, and repair the rented vehicle properly.
- Government agencies responsible for road construction or maintenance may also be liable if the road surface or design contributed to the accident.
Because multiple parties could share liability for your injuries or the death of your loved one, it is crucial to have an experienced motorcycle accident attorney in Beaufort evaluate your case and discuss your legal options with you. They will consult with medical personnel and other analysts, making sure that vital evidence is preserved as part of their comprehensive investigation.
You may be entitled to seek compensation for:
- Short- and long-term medical expenses (past and future)
- Lost earning capacity
- Lost wages
- Rehabilitation and medical devices
- Repairs or replacement of damaged property
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Noneconomic damages, such as emotional distress or disfigurement
If someone dies in a motorcycle accident, the surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim for loss of financial support, funeral and burial expenses, or final medical expenses.
Steps to Take Immediately After a Motorcycle Accident
If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident in or near Beaufort, there are several important things you need to do as soon as possible:
- Don’t wait to get medical help. In a serious accident, emergency personnel should be called to the scene immediately to handle any injuries. Even if you don’t believe you were seriously hurt at first, you should still seek medical attention from your doctor or hospital. Many potentially life-threatening injuries don’t show immediate symptoms.
- Get the contact, vehicle, and insurance information for all individuals involved in the accident, and give them yours.
- Take pictures of the vehicles and the nearby area, including crash damage, the point of impact, skid marks, road signs and markings, and any injuries you have.
- Summon police to the scene and be sure to get a copy of their official report. It should include the officer’s account of the accident, as well as any citations that were issued.
- Get information and statements from any witnesses, including their contact details.
- Keep any bills for medical expenses and anything else related to the accident or your injuries.
- Don’t have your motorcycle repaired yet. The visible damage to your bike can be compelling evidence in your case, so it’s critical it remains in the same condition.
- Don’t speak with the other driver’s insurance carrier until you’ve consulted with a lawyer.
- Don’t talk about your accident, injuries, or case in public or on social media.
It can be challenging to prove fault in a motorcycle accident. That’s why it’s vital to hire an attorney who can build a persuasive case, conduct a detailed investigation, collect additional evidence, and negotiate with the insurance companies for a settlement on your behalf.
How Stewart Law Offices, LLC Can Help After a Beaufort Motorcycle Accident
Our Beaufort, South Carolina, motorcycle accident lawyers are ready to review the details and evidence in your case and answer any questions you have during a free consultation. If you’re still recovering from your injuries and can’t come to our office, we’ll meet with you at your home or in the hospital.
To schedule your free, confidential consultation with a motorcycle accident attorney in Beaufort, South Carolina, call us, chat with us live, or fill out an online contact form on our site right now.