Charleston’s Trusted Motorcycle Accident Attorney
The motorcycle accident law firm of Hartman Law Firm, LLC has extensive experience in helping motorcyclists and their families with legal claims. Please call so we can help you if you have been injured in a motorcycle accident because someone else broke the law.
Motorcycling is a popular recreational activity and mode of transportation for thousands of South Carolina residents. Motorcycle ownership has increased dramatically in the past few years. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, there were 1,984 people injured in motorcycle accidents, and the average hospital charge after a motorcycle accident was $78,825.
Wrecks are usually caused by another driver, not the cyclist. Because motorcycles are small, oftentimes other drivers have a hard time seeing them. That’s especially a problem where the vision of other motorists may be obscured. Motorcycle accidents typically occur during a car accident, when the two vehicles collide. Some important facts about motorcycle accidents include:
- About 70 percent of all motorcycle accidents occur at intersections, where bikers may be less visible than cars.
- Other accidents occur where a motorist’s line of sight is partially blocked by buildings, parked vehicles, trees or undergrowth.
- Motorists who do not keep a proper lookout for motorcycles may turn or pull out in front of them, causing a catastrophic collision.
- In some instances, motorcyclists are hit from behind because they’re able to brake much more quickly than heavier vehicles.
The end result of a collision between a motorcycle and a car can be devastating, and the motorcyclist usually suffers the most severe injuries and damage. A collision between a larger vehicle such as a truck or bus can be even worse due to the sheer size and weight of these vehicles.
Motorcycle Collisions can Cause Severe Injuries
As mentioned above, motorcyclists tend to be the ones to suffer the most serious injuries when they are in a crash with another vehicle or even when they wreck on their own. Motorcycles do not have nearly as many safety protections as cars and trucks do, such as airbags or seat belts. There is no metal frame around a motorcycle to shield them from an impact with a vehicle or the ground. For this reason, motorcyclists often sustain severe impact injuries. Some of these injuries include the following:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – A TBI can result from any type of trauma to the head and motorcyclists commonly hit their heads when they crash. Even a helmet only helps prevent brain injuries a percentage of the time and does not provide complete protection. TBI can have lasting cognitive and physical effects and may cause permanent impairments.
- Spinal cord injury (SCI) – Any damage to the spinal cord from an impact can be dangerous. Depending on where the injury was located on the spine, a victim may be completely and permanently paralyzed below that point. This includes the inability to walk, feel sensation, control the bladder or bowels, or even to breathe on their own.
- Broken bones – While broken bones are common and can heal quickly, the bone fractures from a motorcycle accident are often more severe. Bones can shatter, can be crushed, or there can be compound fractures. These often require several surgeries, extensive rehabilitation, and the injured may never have normal use of that limb again.
- Facial or jaw fractures – Motorcyclists are often thrown forward off of their bikes, especially in a rear-end wreck. If they are not wearing a helmet with a full face shield, they can easily sustain damage to the bones in their face and jaw, which can require extensive reconstructive surgery and may cause disfigurement.
- Neck and back injuries – Even if the spinal cord is not damaged, collisions on a motorcycle can result in many types of injuries to the neck and/or back. These injuries can be debilitating, may require surgery, can be extremely painful, and often keep a victim from working for a long period of time.
- Burns – If a motorcyclist crashes at a higher speed, chances are they may be thrown from their bike and may skid across the pavement. This also may occur if the bike gets laid down and their leg is pinned underneath it as skids. Such intense friction with pavement can result in serious burns that may require months of treatment and may leave scarring.
Each of the above injuries also has many complications that must be addressed and treated. Treatment can include hospitalization, surgeries, home health care, medical equipment, rehabilitative therapy, and more, and can result in overwhelming medical bills, as well as lost income from missing work. Motorcyclists deserve to recover compensation for all of these losses and more from the party who caused the accident.
Who can be Held Responsible for a Motorcycle Crash?
In many cases, drivers are at fault for causing a motorcycle collision. However, motorcyclists can be involved in a wreck that does not involve any other vehicles. These may be caused by dangerous roadways or malfunctioning motorcycle parts. Therefore, liability in an accident is not always clear just because there was another driver involved.
An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer will know how to evaluate your case and determine whether someone was negligent and caused your accident so that you can file a claim against that party. Some examples of negligence that can lead to motorcycle crashes include:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Fatigued driving
- Running traffic signals or signs
- Speeding or tailgating
- Dangerous lane changes
- Violating other traffic laws
- Selling defective motorcycle parts
- Not properly repairing a motorcycle
- Allowing dangerous road hazards to exist
Proving negligence is necessary to recover from an insurance company or in a personal injury claim in civil court. A skilled attorney will have the resources needed to investigate the circumstances of your motorcycle crash to collect evidence that someone else was at fault.
Conspicuity Issues with Motorcycles
One of the major issues that can result in a crash between a motorcycle and a larger vehicle is that the driver simply was not aware that the motorcyclist was there. Because of the relatively small size of a motorcycle, drivers who are used to watching for full-sized vehicles may not pay close enough attention to notice a motorcyclist before they try to turn or change lanes.
Motorcyclists can take steps to make themselves as conspicuous to drivers as possible. Consider taking the following steps to keep yourself safe:
- Wear bright and colorful clothes
- Wear reflective clothes at night
- Use your headlights
- Always use signals
- Avoid blind spots on cars and trucks
- Slow down and be vigilant at intersections
- If a car is changing lanes, do not try to pass them first
- Avoid riding in low-visibility weather conditions
If you are being safe and a driver still fails to notice you and causes you injuries, you deserve to hold that driver accountable for every penny of your losses.
Recovering for Your Motorcycle Accident Losses
If you can prove negligence, you can seek compensation for any damages that you can prove, which can include both tangible and intangible losses. Some damages commonly recovered in a motorcycle wreck case include:
- Already incurred medical bills
- Estimated future medical costs
- Lost income
- Estimated lost income and earning capacity
- Permanent disability
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and mental trauma
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death
It’s important to know what steps to take should a motorcycle accident occur. Those include notifying your insurance company and contacting an attorney knowledgeable about motorcycle laws. Insurance companies are especially cautious with motorcycle-related claims, and the insurance difficulties that normally face automobile drivers are magnified for bikers. Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. knows insurance company defense tactics. We also know how to present your case to maximize your recovery for your injuries.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a motorcycle accident caused by the negligence of another motorist, Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. has the experience and the compassion to help you. To learn more about our impressive credentials, please contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation at 843-300-7600.
Safety Information for South Carolina Motorcyclists
While motorcyclists cannot control the actions of other on the road, they can ensure that they follow certain safety guidelines to increase the chances of arriving to their destination alive and well. The following are only a few important safety tips for motorcyclists to remember:
- Know how to select the right helmet for you. Consider the snugness of the helmet, the pressure against your forehead, ear coverage, and other important factors to ensure you have the safest helmet.
- Know what to do if you are about to run over something in the roadway. This can include braking to your maximum ability prior to hitting the object, understanding how to roll-on and roll-off your throttle as you pass over the object, and knowing how to come to a controlled stop once you are all the way over the object.
- Take the proper steps before you dismount, including properly shutting off the engine, turning off your ignition switch, turning off your fuel valve, locking your side stand, and squeezing your front brake lever.
- Take precautions when fueling up your motorcycle, which include turning off the engine, getting all the way off your bike, taking off your gloves, not overfilling the tank, and replacing the cap before ever turning your bike back on.
- Listen to your inner judgment while riding a motorcycle. If you get a feeling that a situation may be dangerous, move back and remove yourself as much as possible. Wait an extra minute if you think traffic is too heavy or conditions are not right to pull into the street.
Another very important key to staying safe is to know when it is appropriate to take your car instead of your motorcycle. When the weather conditions are less than ideal and a storm may be coming, it is always a safer bet to take you car. In addition, even when the weather is perfect, you should never take your motorcycle if you are running late. While a bike’s agility may get you there faster, you may also put yourself at risk by driving faster than you usually would or making risky maneuvers that may result in a crash.
Important Laws in South Carolina that Apply to Motorcyclists
Another important way for motorcyclists to stay safe is to be aware of all of the South Carolina laws that apply to owning or riding a motorcycle and ensure you are always in compliance with them. The following are brief descriptions of some laws regarding SC motorcyclists:
- SECTION 56‐5‐3610 – Motorcyclists have all the rights and duties as drivers of other types of motor vehicles.
- SECTION 56‐5‐3630 – Motorcyclists may not carry passengers or objects unless the bike is intended to carry them and if they do not interfere with safe operation.
- SECTION 56‐5‐3640 – Motorcyclists have the right to use the full traffic lane, can ride two abreast in a lane, but cannot engage in lane-splitting.
- SECTION 56‐5‐3660 – Helmets are required for anyone under the age of 21.
- SECTION 56‐5‐3670 – Goggles or a face shield is required for anyone under the age of 21.
- SECTION 38-77-140 – Motorcyclists must carry minimum amounts of motorcycle insurance including $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per person or $50,000 per crash, as well as $25,000 for property damage. (Note: it is recommended that motorcyclists carry more than the minimum amount of coverage, as injuries from motorcycle accidents tend to be severe.)
Contact a North Charleston Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
At Hartman Law Firm, LLC, we understands the risks that motorcyclists take and are committed to helping motorcyclists in South Carolina remain safe and healthy. In the event that a crash does occur, we are on your side to make sure you receive the full amount of compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. We will assist with any insurance claims and lawsuits that may be necessary to help you recover. Please contact our firm at 843-300-7600 to discuss how we can help you after a motorcycle accident.