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 cases.
The statistics are never in favor of motorcycle riders when an accident occurs. In fact, thousands of motorcycle deaths occur each year in the United States. The motorcycle accidents that do not end in death may still result in horrific brain and spinal cord injuries, broken bones, permanent disability or disfigurement. While most people are familiar with motorcycle accidents that are due to collisions with automobiles or trucks, no-contact motorcycle accidents can leave motorcycle riders with just as catastrophic of injuries.
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.
South Carolina Helmet Laws
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 was caused by the failure to wear a helmet. In the alternative, even though the use of a helmet will not increase the number 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.
No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents
A no-contact motorcycle accident is when a vehicle on the roadway causes a motorcycle rider to somehow crash or wreck, without an actual physical collision between the two vehicles. These accidents are common as drivers oftentimes are unaware of the fact a motorcycle rider is even present, or near their vicinity. Making a turn, lane change, or other driving decision then puts the motorcycle rider in the position of either laying down their motorcycle and crashing, or veering off the roadway and crashing. Either way, these no-contact motorcycle accidents are common and the result can be catastrophic.
The most common scenario involves the fact that drivers of motor vehicles simply do not notice motorcycles on roadways. This lack of attention can often cause negligent driving behavior that negatively impacts the motorcycle rider. The following are the most common scenarios that result in a no-contact motorcycle accident:
- Distracted driving
- Unsafe lane change
- Violation of traffic laws by the motor vehicle driver (examples include: failing to yield, running a red light, crossing the median, recklessly speeding, etc.)
- Inattentive to surroundings, such as motorcycle riders
- Driving recklessly
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Contact a Charleston Motorcycle Attorney
If you were injured in a no-contact motorcycle accident, you likely have medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You may have the right to receive compensation for your injuries. These types of personal injury cases are challenging, and our attorneys can help you understand your rights and build your case. Contact an experienced Charleston motorcycle accident attorney. The attorneys at the David Aylor Law Offices will help you with your next steps. Contact us today at (843) 212-2684 or online today.