Bicycle riders are vulnerable riding on South Carolina’s roads. Collisions with vehicles and other hazards can be serious and life-changing as well requiring expensive care for recovery. South Carolina bicycle accident lawyers are ready to help those who are injured while riding a bicycle by seeking damages from those responsible. Contact an experienced lawyer today.
South Carolina does not have a law requiring any bicyclist to wear a protective helmet, but wearing a helmet is beneficial in an accident and the state highly recommends using a helmet to prevent injury and save lives.
South Carolina ranked fourth highest nationally in bicycle accident fatalities in 2010, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Although state law requires drivers to always stay a safe distance from bicycles, the drivers can be distracted by traffic, using cell phones and texting as well as impairment and hit a moving or stopped bicycle. Even an impact at slow speeds can cause serious injuries.
South Carolina Accident Laws
South Carolina adjudicates bicycle accidents under its negligence law. Negligence legally defined is failing to use due care that a prudent person would use in an act that foreseeably could cause harm or property damage.
The state uses the comparative negligence standard which requires those who have fault in an accident cannot collect all of the damages incurred, and that those damages are reduced by the percentage of fault. A judge or a jury decides the percentage of fault. For more information on laws, refer to a South Carolina bicycle accident attorney.
’51 Percent Rule’
South Carolina also requires that anyone who is even a fraction over 50 percent at fault cannot claim any damages, commonly called the 51 Percent Rule, to punish those who act negligently and promote due caution.
Proof of Negligence
To prove negligence, South Carolina law requires that the plaintiff, the party bringing legal action, meet all of the law’s elements. These are:
- Duty of care: A person must act toward others and the general public with caution, attention, and the watchfulness that a prudent and reasonable person would use in a similar circumstance.
- Breach: An action that violates duty of care. Failing to act can also be a breach.
- Causation: If the breach did not happen the accident would not have happened.
- Proximate cause: The breach caused a particular and foreseeable event.
- Damages: Harm or property damage caused financial loss.
- Potential Damages
In addition to property damage, these are the common damages an injured bicyclist may claim:
- Medical care and hospitalization
- Therapy treatments and equipment
- Loss of present and future income
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship
- Punitive, if the negligent act was egregious
To claim damages requires legal action, first in the form of a letter to the offending party demanding monetary damages. If that fails, the South Carolina bicycle injury attorney will prepare a lawsuit, which states the facts of the case and proof of financial damages.
The bicyclist has three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit under the state’s statute of limitations. If the deadline is missed the bicyclist cannot sue the party who caused the accident.
Many personal injury lawsuits are settled among the parties. The amount of the settlement is negotiated with the defendant’s insurance carrier, which will try to reduce a number of damages. The attorney will aggressively fight for all the damages claimed.
Talk to a South Carolina Bicycle Accident Attorney Today
Contact a South Carolina bicycle accident lawyer for a free, no-obligation consultation to review the case and determine if legal action is warranted. Attorney fees can be paid from a small percentage of the money awarded for damages, but if the lawyer is not successful in achieving damages, the attorney’s fees are waived.