Millions of people every year feel the call of the open road on two wheels, but a motorcycle accident can result in a life-changing injury. Devastating accidents can happen to even the most careful rider, leaving victims and their families with questions of liability, insurance, and how the medical bills or funeral costs are going to be paid.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) latest figures, the numbers for South Carolina show that our local roads and highways are deadlier than ever. South Carolina streets saw 184 motorcycle fatalities in 2015, the highest number of deaths in the past five years of records—and 63 more deaths than 2014. Over one-quarter of the fatalities involved a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above the legal limit of 0.08 percent, and about 14 percent of the fatalities were at 0.15 percent BAC or higher.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in South Carolina
Motorcycle accidents can happen in the blink of an eye—before the rider ever has a chance to react. Accidents happen so fast, in fact, that it’s common for a motorcycle rider who has survived an accident to state “one minute I was riding on my bike, and the next I was waking up in the hospital.” Here are some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents involving cars or trucks:
- Left turns. One of the most common and deadly causes of wrecks is when a driver fails to see an oncoming motorcycle and performs a left-hand turn in front of the rider. This type of accident accounts for up to 42 percent of all car-motorcycle crashes.
- Sudden stops. A car that jams on the brakes suddenly can cause a motorcyclist to slam into the rear bumper if he or she doesn’t have enough time to react.
- Lane changes. Cars and trucks can strike an unwary rider during a lane change, especially if the lane change is sudden.
- Rear-end accidents. Drivers may not see a motorcyclist stopped at an intersection ahead and strike the rear tire of the motorcycle, throwing the rider into cross traffic.
- Drunk drivers. Intoxicated drivers can typically barely operate their vehicle and have a hard time seeing or avoiding other cars, let alone a motorcycle.
One of the most common causes of solo motorcycle accidents is excess speed while attempting a turn, causing the rider to overshoot the lane and either enter oncoming traffic or leave the road completely.
Common Motorcycle Injuries
Since motorcyclists aren’t protected by the frame of their vehicle like a car or truck driver is, severe injuries can result from what would otherwise be a minor collision between two four-wheeled vehicles. Some of the most common motorcycle injuries are:
- Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are extremely common, especially when riders aren’t wearing helmets.
- Neck injuries are also common as a result of impact with a vehicle or the ground.
- Leg and foot injuries can result from a side impact when a vehicle crushes the leg against the bike, or when the bike falls to the pavement with the rider’s leg underneath.
- Road rash is a friction-based injury caused by the rider’s body sliding or skidding across the roadway after being knocked from the bike, and can cause permanent scarring or disfigurement. Wearing the appropriate gear may help protect the rider to an extent, but there is no gear that can fully prevent road rash.
Other types of motorcycle injuries that are common include muscular damage, nerve damage, chest or abdominal injuries, and internal bleeding or other organ damage.
Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents
The best defense for a motorcycle rider is to ride safe and stay aware at all times. Some common advice to new riders is to “ride as though you’re invisible to everyone else,” as other drivers will have a hard time seeing your smaller vehicle. Keep your eyes open and pay attention to your surroundings constantly when you ride, even when you are stopped. Identify potential threats and always keep an escape route open.
Another way to protect yourself and your family is to have motorcycle insurance. While the state of South Carolina requires drivers to carry $25,000 worth of liability coverage, motorcycle accidents are often severe and can quickly result in medical bills far beyond the minimum coverage amounts. You should not only carry liability insurance for yourself, but also consider adding uninsured and underinsured driver coverage, too. That way, if the other driver only has liability insurance, you’ll still be covered.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident in South Carolina
Immediately after an accident, the first thing you need to do is check yourself for injuries. If you or anyone else is hurt, call 911 immediately for help. After that, follow these steps:
- Get to safety. Get yourself out of the way of traffic, if you’re able.
- Move your bike. If you can take a picture safely first, do so, but don’t put yourself in danger. Otherwise, if you can move your bike safely and without causing further harm to yourself or the other vehicle, do so. If the damage is more than minor, call 911 to report the accident right away.
- Collect information. Be sure to get contact and insurance information from the other driver, vehicle make and model, and other important information from the scene.
- Don’t admit to anything. Never apologize to the other driver, as doing so could be considered an admission of fault and hurt your court case later. Be polite, but keep chat to a minimum.
After your accident, you may also want to contact a personal injury attorney. A lawyer can help you understand your right to compensation and help you determine whether a lawsuit is worth pursuing.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident in South Carolina, the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger would like to hear from you today. Our skilled legal team can review your individual situation and help you decide on the right course of action to seek the compensation that you may be owed for medical bills, rehabilitation, property damage, lost time and wages, pain and suffering, and more. For a free case evaluation, call us in our Columbia office at 803-790-2800 today.