The Columbia area has no shortage of great roads for riding motorcycles. Despite the thrills or relaxation these rides can offer, circumstances change instantly when a motorcyclist is involved in a crash. When a reckless or negligent act has harmed you, the Columbia motorcycle accident lawyers of Stewart Law Offices, LLC are there to stand up for you.
Motorcyclists can frequently be thrown, struck, or crushed in some crashes. Many motorcycle accidents are the result of another driver’s negligence. Many motorists fail to take notice of motorcycles and fail to share the road. Insurance companies for negligent drivers, nonetheless, often try to shift the blame for crashes to motorcyclists who did nothing wrong.
If you suffered catastrophic injuries or your loved one was killed in a motorcycle accident in the Greater Columbia area, there is ample reason for you to quickly get help from a lawyer. An experienced attorney knows how to fight to protect the rights of an injured motorcyclist and help them pursue the compensation they are entitled to.
Stewart Law Offices, LLC has been helping motorcycle accident victims in Columbia and communities all over South Carolina for more than two decades. Call us or contact us online now to receive a free consultation.
Causes of Motorcycle Crashes
Motorcycles can be involved in any kind of collision involving another motor vehicle, but certain types of crashes are particularly common. Driver negligence often directly causes these types of accidents.
Common kinds of motorcycle accidents include:
- Lane Change Crashes — Cars and motorcycles are often traveling in the same direction, but the smaller size of motorcycles means that it is easier for them to disappear into blind spots. Drivers who fail to check their blind spots often strike nearby motorcycles.
- Driver Fatigue Accidents — A drowsy driver is struggling to stay awake, and even momentary lapses or a brief closing of the eyes can lead to inadvertent actions that cause traffic crashes.
- Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs Accidents — Drunk or drugged driving offenses often result in criminal charges. Negligence is generally easy to prove when a driver is charged with a DUI offense, but keep in mind that the driver can still be held civilly liable even if they are able to avoid a conviction for the criminal offense. A civil action is a separate action that involves a much lower burden of proof.
- Distracted Driving Accidents — All drivers need to be completely invested in the task at hand, but sometimes drivers attempt to multitask while they are behind the wheel. Distracted drivers are unable to stop or steer when necessary and may commit a violation that causes an accident. Distracted driving is most commonly associated texting or talking on a cell phone, but it can also include putting on makeup, grooming, reading, eating, drinking, or even talking to other passengers.
- Rear-End Collisions — A rear-end accident occurs when a vehicle strikes a motorcycle from behind. These types of crashes can be much more serious than when they involve two four-wheeled vehicles. Low-speed collisions that might be “fender benders” for cars can be enough to throw motorcyclists from their bikes and result in severe injuries.
- Left- or Right-Turn Accidents — Misjudging a motorcyclist’s speed usually contributes to either kind of turning collision. In a left-turn accident, a car turns in front of an oncoming motorcyclist, while most right-turn accidents occur when a driver turns into the path of a motorcyclist who is traveling in the same direction.
While the types of collisions listed above represent some of the most common kinds of motorcycle crashes, not all motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle. In these cases, an accident can be the result of some kind of mechanical issue with the motorcycle. When a motorcycle part is defective, the victim could have a product liability action against a manufacturer. And if a motorcycle was not properly repaired, then the maintenance company could be liable.
Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents in Columbia
Motorcyclists don’t have much protection when they are involved in a crash. The injuries victims suffer are often severe. Victims can be out of work for weeks, months, or even years. Some are never able to work again or even manage the tasks of daily living.
Examples of injuries motorcycle accident victims can sustain include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal organ injuries
- Neck injuries
- Muscle strains
- Road rash
Sometimes, injuries suffered in motorcycle crashes are fatal. When another party’s negligence results in a motorcyclist’s death, the family of the victim has the right to pursue a wrongful death claim.
South Carolina Motorcycle Laws
Lane splitting, which involves riding a motorcycle between lanes of stopped or slowed traffic, is prohibited in South Carolina. The state also does not allow people to partake in off-road motorcycling.
Any motorcyclist under 21 years of age is required to wear a helmet. Riders who are 21 years of age or older are not required to wear a helmet.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics in South Carolina
According to the Post and Courier, the 135 motorcycle accident-related deaths in 2016 were the most this century. The state’s average annual fatality rate was second only to Mississippi, with 10 deaths per 10,000 registered motorcycles.
Approximately three-fourths of motorcycle crashes involved collisions with other motor vehicles, according to the Hurt Report.
The Traffic Collision Fact Book from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety reported that there were 148 fatalities in collisions involving motorcycles in a single recent year. Fatalities increased 35.8 percent between 2012 and 2016, and there was a 5 percent increase between 2015 and 2016.
The publication also reported that motorcycles were involved in 145 fatal collisions, 1,786 injury collisions, and 470 property-damage-only collisions. There were 2,076 injuries related to motorcycle collisions.
Compensation for Motorcycle Accidents in Columbia
When an insurance company is initially resistant to settle a motorcycle accident case, it may relent when faced with the prospect of the costs associated with a trial. A settlement is usually designed to cover all of the costs a victim has incurred and will incur as a result of their accident.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the victim may have to file a lawsuit. At trial, a victim who proves their case by a preponderance of the evidence can be awarded compensatory damages, which are usually a combination of economic damages and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are tangible expenses, and noneconomic damages are much more subjective. Economic damages usually include awards for medical bills, lost income, and property damage. Noneconomic damages are awards for things like loss of consortium, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
In a very limited number of cases, a victim may also be awarded punitive damages, which are intended to punish a defendant for particularly egregious misconduct. Motorcycle accidents caused by drunk driving cases are a good example of the type of case that might merit punitive damages.
Steps to Take Immediately After a Motorcycle Accident
- Go to a hospital after a motorcycle crash, even if you do not believe at first that you were hurt. You want to ensure you receive proper treatment if you suffered an injury with delayed symptoms. Getting timely medical attention is important in accident claims.
- Take pictures of your crash scene from different distances and angles and get the names and phone numbers of anyone who witnessed your accident. If you are unable to take these steps because of the need for medical care, try to have a friend, family member, or someone on the scene do this for you.
- Contact a personal injury attorney at Stewart Law Offices as soon as possible.
How Our Law Firm Can Help After a Motorcycle Accident
People who attempt to handle their motorcycle crash injury claims on their own often struggle to prove the extent of their injuries to insurance companies. You do not have to handle this burden alone. Stewart Law Offices, LLC is prepared to work with medical authorities to help you obtain all of the compensation you need and deserve.
Did you sustain serious injuries or was your loved one killed in a motorcycle accident in the Greater Columbia area? Stewart Law Offices, LLC has an office in Columbia and represents injured people in communities all over South Carolina. You can have our lawyers review your case as soon as you call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.