Devastating motorcycle accidents can happen to even the most careful riders, leaving victims and their families with questions about liability, insurance, and how expenses are going to be paid.
Our firm is here to help you navigate the legal system after a motorcycle wreck and ensure your legal rights are protected. Below we’ve answered common questions people have after a collision, and we are also available via chat, contact form, or telephone to speak with you and schedule a free consultation.
- Determining Who is At Fault in a Motorcycle Wreck
- Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes
- Motorcycle Accident Injuries
- How to Seek Damages After a Motorcycle Accident
- SC Helmet Laws and How It Can Affect Your Insurance Claim
- What to Do After a Motorcycle Crash
- Protecting Yourself with Motorcycle Insurance
- Should I Hire a Lawyer to Handle My Motorcycle Wreck?
Motorcycle accidents happen every day in Columbia and other parts of South Carolina because other drivers fail to look twice, stop for traffic lights, or designate a sober driver. Too often the public blames those who ride rather than the reckless drivers who injure them, and insurance companies perpetuate stereotypes of motorcycle enthusiasts and the attorneys who represent them. Do not allow yourself to become the victim of bias or an insurance adjuster's underhanded tricks.
Our team of attorneys is familiar with the attempts insurance companies make to assign fault to riders after an accident in order to pay you less than fair compensation. By gathering evidence, such as witness testimony, video footage, and cell phone records, we can help prove the other driver was at fault and should be held accountable for the harm they caused.
Motorcycle wrecks 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 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.
- 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 barely operate their vehicle and have a hard time seeing or avoiding other cars, let alone a motorcycle.
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, even when riders are wearing helmets.
- Neck or spinal 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.
Whether your collision occurred on a busy road, interstate, or back road, South Carolina law dictates that you have a right to seek recovery for any harm another driver caused you. That said, after being injured in a crash, a motorcycle accident lawyer in Columbia can help you seek compensation for:
- Medical bills and treatment costs (current and projected);
- Damages to your vehicle or other property;
- Pain, suffering and mental anguish;
- Current lost wages or income;
- Future lost income (if the injury has affected your earning capacity);
- Permanent disfigurement or impairment; and
- Loss of consortium (if the injury has affected the quality of your relationship or companionship).
In cases in which the at-fault driver was particularly careless, you may be due punitive damages. These seek not to compensate victims for damages, but to punish the at-fault party for malicious or reckless behavior and to discourage such behavior in the future. For instance, punitive damages are not uncommon in drunk driving cases.
In South Carolina, the law does not require adults to wear helmets when they are riding motorcycles. So, if you were injured in a motorcycle wreck in Columbia or any other town in South Carolina and you weren’t wearing a helmet, you can still file an insurance claim against the other driver, as long as they caused the accident. We provide more in-depth information on this topic in the following library article: South Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Laws.
These five steps can help ensure your legal rights are protected after a motorcycle crash in South Carolina.
- Focus on getting well. After an accident, you should prioritize your health and seek proper medical care. Motorcycle wrecks often leave people with serious injuries, including some that may not be visible to the eye, like a TBI or internal bleeding. Seeking medical treatment after a wreck can help ensure no injuries go untreated.
- File all medical bills with your health insurance company. Hospitals will often claim they are unable to file your medical bills with your insurance provider if you were injured in a vehicle accident. Do not let them mislead you. If you have health insurance, insist that all bills are submitted to your health insurance provider, who will then cover all procedures covered by your plan. For more information on using health insurance after a wreck, read this article: Can the Hospital Refuse to File My Bill with the Health Insurance Company?
- Proceed with caution when speaking with insurance adjusters. An insurance adjuster’s job is to pay you as little as possible to settle your injury claim. So, when they call to discuss the collision, be mindful of how you describe your health and the wreck and know that you are not obligated to give a recorded statement. We recommend at least consulting with an attorney before speaking with an adjuster to ensure your rights are protected.
- Be careful when sharing information on social media. It can be tempting to post details about your motorcycle wreck on social media to let people know how you are doing. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters often try to use this information against you. Sharing updates offline via text or phone call may be a safer route to prevent adjusters from twisting your words to prove you deserve a smaller settlement.
- Schedule a free legal consultation. After your crash, you may also want to contact a South Carolina motorcycle accident attorney. A lawyer can help you understand your rights pertaining to fair compensation and help you determine whether a lawsuit is worth pursuing.
While the state of South Carolina requires drivers to carry $25,000 worth of liability coverage, motorcycle crashes are often severe and can quickly result in medical bills far beyond the minimum coverage amounts. If the person that hit you does not have enough insurance available to cover your damages (medical bills, lost wages, lost enjoyment of life, etc.), filing an underinsured motorist (UIM) claim may be your best option for recovery, if it is included in your policy.
If the at fault driver was not insured at all, you will be able to file an uninsured motorist (UM) claim. Every insurance policy sold in South Carolina includes UM coverage to help protect you against uninsured drivers. If you own multiple vehicles, you may also be able to “stack” these insurance policies to cover your damages.
Learn more about our state’s motorcycle insurance laws in this library article: The Right Insurance in the Event of a Motorcycle Accident in SC.
While certainly not all motorcycle crashes require you to hire a lawyer, those who have been seriously injured in collisions usually benefit from working with an injury attorney. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death, compared to only 20 percent of car wrecks. So, if you were hit while riding your motorcycle, you’ll be more likely to have greater damages, including medical bills, lost wages, lost enjoyment of life, and more. Insurance companies are always trying to pay out as little as possible, so once damages reach a certain point, insurance adjusters often become more difficult to work with, or refuse to disclose how much insurance coverage is really out there. In these situations, motorcycle accident lawyers are better equipped to negotiate with adjusters to ensure you receive a full and fair recovery.
Since motorcycle crashes can cause such serious injuries, we always recommend at least consulting with a lawyer before settling your claim with the insurance company to ensure your legal rights are protected.
Contact a Columbia, SC Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
With our central location in Columbia and a second office location in Myrtle Beach, we are able to help injured people across the entire state of South Carolina. Our goal is to protect your legal rights and ensure that no injured person is taken advantage of by dangerous drivers and the insurance companies that represent them.
If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident in South Carolina, our team of attorneys will review your individual situation and help you decide on the right course of action in order to receive full compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation, property damage, lost time and wages, pain and suffering, and more.For a free case evaluation, contact us today at 803-790-2800 or via the live chat box below.