The freedom of riding a motorcycle can be both exhilarating and refreshing. With that freedom, however, comes an increase in risk for automobile accidents. While motorcyclists are treated just as any other automobile operators under the eyes of the law, they can be subject to certain risks that can impair their own car accident case.
Determining Legal Responsibility
In any car accident case, the key issue is the determination of liability. Because South Carolina follows the comparative negligence standard of liability, however, there are a few more considerations for motorcycle riders that can affect the outcome of their case.
Under the comparative negligence standard of liability, a party involved in an automobile accident can recover any damages up to the percentage that they were at fault. This means that if a driver is 70% responsible for the accident, and a motorcyclist is responsible for 30% of the accident, then the motorcyclist will only be able to recover 70% of her damages. In addition to this, a court will bar the recovery of parties who are found to be more than 51% at fault.
While a party will not be penalized simply for riding a motorcycle, motorcyclists have to deal with more risks and be more aware of safety matters than the average automobile driver.
Most people would agree that helmets go a long way to provide protection against head and/or neck injuries that may be sustained in a motorcycle accident. Even though helmets are not legally required to be worn by motorcycle riders over the age of 21, the presence, or absence, of a helmet can greatly impact your case. This is because most people recognize that helmets prevent injuries, and an opposing party will not hesitate to argue that any neck or head injuries that a motorcyclist sustained in a car accident were caused by the failure to wear a helmet. In the alternative, even though the use of a helmet will not increase the amount of damages you can claim, it will prevent opposing counsel from chipping away at any damage award you might be entitled to.
In addition to helmet laws, there is also the matter of lane splitting. Many people may have seen a motorcyclist lane splitting, which is when a motorcyclist drives on the traffic line in order to maneuver through traffic. Even though motorcyclists are granted full use of traffic lanes under South Carolina Code Section 56-5-3640, they are also prohibited from engaging in lane splitting. Not only is it a risk to other drivers, but it can also be a serious risk for the motorcyclist. As such, if an accident involves lane splitting, it is likely that the court will hold such actions against the motorcyclist, increasing her percentage of fault.
Contact an Attorney
Riding a motorcycle can be risky, but you do not have to take unnecessary risks if you get into an accident while riding your motorcycle. If you or someone you love have been involved in an accident in Charleston, Walterboro or North Charleston, call a dedicated, experienced attorney at the David Aylor Law Offices for a free consultation.