Motorcycle accidents can occur anywhere in Columbia, South Carolina. They happen on interstate highways, such as I-26; on major thoroughfares, such as Gervais Street; in parking lots; and on neighborhood lanes. Anywhere you go in Columbia, you're never far from the site of a recent motorcycle accident.
If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a Columbia motorcycle crash, you may have the legal right to receive significant financial compensation.
Here's a review of the statistics on motorcycle accidents in Columbia, the accident hotspots and common causes, the injuries they entail, and the role a Columbia motorcycle accident lawyer plays in securing damages for injured riders and their loved ones.
Statistics on Motorcycle Accidents in Columbia
According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) and its most recently published Traffic Collision Fact Book, motorcycle accidents injured 141 people in Richland County in a recent year. Thirteen of those victims died, accounting for nearly one in five traffic fatalities that year. At least 93 others sustained some level of physical injury. Nearly all of those accidents happened in Columbia or its immediate environs.
SCDPS estimates the total economic loss that traffic accidents inflicted in Richland County in a single year at around $396,378,000. Using the proportion of motorcycle fatalities to total fatalities as a guide, that would imply that motorcycle accidents represented $80 million of those losses.
Even that significant sum fails to account for the anguish and suffering of accident victims and their loved ones.
Common Causes of Columbia Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents happen in Columbia in a variety of circumstances, although many incidents share the common characteristic of having nothing to do with a biker's behavior. Fault for a crash often lies primarily, or even entirely, with others who fail to share the road safely with motorcyclists.
One of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in Columbia is the negligence of car and truck drivers. Motorists who engage in dangerous behavior, such as distracted driving, speeding, tailgating, and ignoring traffic rules and signals, put bikers at severe risk of a wreck.
A negligent driver failing to yield the right of way to motorcyclists commonly leads to crashes.
Many motorcycle accidents happen in Columbia when a car or truck makes a left turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle. Drivers sometimes fail to see a motorcycle in their line of sight and turn across their path, giving the biker little, if any, time to react before a collision occurs.
Motor vehicle drivers operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs cause a significant number of motorcycle accidents. Impaired drivers exhibit slowed reaction times, poor judgment, and limited motor control, which can lead to disastrous consequences for motorcyclists sharing the road with them.
Poorly Maintained Roads and Infrastructure
Improper maintenance of roads, inadequate street lighting, lack of appropriate signage, and other infrastructure issues can also cause serious motorcycle accidents.
Potholes, uneven pavement, oil slicks, and road debris—all of which a car or truck could easily traverse—may pose a deadly danger to motorcyclists because these hazards can trigger a sudden and unexpected loss of control.
Common Injuries in Columbia Motorcycle Accidents
Bikers and their passengers frequently sustain severe or fatal injuries in Columbia motorcycle accidents. Here are a few of the many forms of trauma that can occur. No matter what type of injury you or your loved one sustained, an experienced attorney can evaluate your losses and pursue compensation to enable you to pay your bills and plan for your future.
Head and Brain Injuries
One of the most feared injuries in motorcycle accidents is a head and brain injury. Even when riders wear helmets, they can still face a substantial risk of severe head or brain trauma in a crash. These injuries can lead to long-term disabilities, coma, or death.
Motorcycle riders often suffer broken bones during a crash. The most common fractures are to the legs, arms, pelvis, and wrists. These injuries can be extremely painful and may take a long time to heal, leading to extended disability and substantial medical bills.
Road rash is another common injury in motorcycle accidents. It's a form of friction injury involving severe lacerations and abrasions and occurs when riders slide across a pavement during a crash. Severe road rash can include skin damage, infections, and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are unfortunately common if a motorcycle accident throws a biker from their saddle to the ground or against roadside objects. Many spinal cord injuries result in partial or complete paralysis—a life-altering condition that requires extensive medical care and support and can cost millions of dollars over a lifetime.
Seeking Compensation for a Columbia Motorcycle Accident
Who Can Be Liable for a Biker's Injuries?
Various individuals, businesses, or entities could have liability for a motorcycle accident in Columbia. Under South Carolina law, anyone who causes a wreck through their unreasonably dangerous actions or omissions may owe damages to injured crash victims.
Those liable may include:
- Careless motorists who fail to share the road safely with motorcyclists.
- Employers of motorists who collide with a motorcycle while the latter are driving for work.
- A bar, restaurant, or social host who serves alcohol to a driver and causes a drunk driver to crash with a motorcycle.
- A local government agency or contractor responsible for unreasonably dangerous road conditions that are unsuitable for motorcycle riding.
- A manufacturer of defective motorcycle parts that contribute to causing an accident.
These examples illustrate the multiple parties who could owe damages to an injured motorcyclist in Columbia. To learn who may owe you compensation for your losses after a motorcycle crash, contact an experienced lawyer today.
What Compensation Can an Injured Biker Get?
An injured biker can claim a variety of damages for the physical, emotional, and financial harm that a motorcycle accident caused. Survivors of motorcycle crashes often find it surprising to learn about the different categories of compensation they can demand from a liable party and that party's insurance company.
Damages for a Columbia motorcycle accident may include payment for a biker's:
- Medical expenses.
- Property damage.
- Lost income from missing work.
- Loss of earning potential because of a disability.
- Physical pain.
- Emotional suffering.
- Diminished quality of life.
- Scarring, disfigurement, or loss of bodily function.
An injured biker can also sometimes seek punitive damages, which punish an at-fault party's extreme or malicious misconduct. Talk to a lawyer today about the compensation you might seek after suffering harm in a Columbia bike wreck.
Wrongful Death Claims After Fatal Columbia Motorcycle Accidents
If a motorcyclist dies in a Columbia motorcycle accident, the victim's surviving spouse or close family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for their tragic loss.
Through this legal action, they may secure payment for the loss of the deceased biker's income, services, support, guidance, companionship, and consortium, among other damages.
While no amount of money can erase the pain of losing a loved one, a wrongful death claim can provide crucial financial support for a grieving spouse or family during an incredibly challenging time. Contact an experienced motorcycle accident injury lawyer in Columbia today if you recently lost a loved one in a tragic crash.
The Role of a Columbia Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
A Columbia motorcycle accident lawyer's primary job is to secure the compensation you deserve after suffering losses in an accident.
Every case differs, but the right lawyer for your motorcycle accident case will typically take any of the following steps on your behalf:
- Investigate the accident to determine how it happened and who should be liable for your losses.
- Gather evidence to support your claim for damages against liable parties.
- Evaluate the losses you suffered to ensure you seek the maximum possible compensation.
- Handle all communications and negotiations with insurance companies.
- Prepare and file lawsuits and insurance claims demanding the money you are eligible to receive from liable parties and their insurers.
- Go to court to represent your rights and interests and secure a favorable judgment or jury award.
- Negotiate settlements of your claims whenever possible and advise you whether to accept or reject settlement offers.
Hiring a motorcycle accident lawyer to handle the case for you is affordable, no matter what your financial circumstances. You can meet with a lawyer for free to learn about your rights in an initial consultation.
If you hire a lawyer, they will almost certainly represent you on a contingent fee basis, which means you only pay them if they secure compensation for you. If they don't recover damages, you don't owe them a penny.
Frequently Asked Questions About Columbia Motorcycle Accidents
Here are the answers to some frequent queries about motorcycle accidents in Columbia. For answers to questions specific to your case, contact a skilled lawyer today.
Can I Get Money for a Motorcycle Accident if I Wasn't Wearing a Helmet?
Yes, you usually can. If you suffer injury in an accident that someone else caused and you weren't wearing a helmet, this should not impinge on your rights to seek compensation from the at-fault party.
It may, however, reduce the damages you can realistically expect to receive, especially if wearing a helmet could have prevented some of the injuries you sustained. Talk to a lawyer today to learn how your choices concerning helmet use might affect your claim.
How Long Will It Take to Get Money for My Injuries?
The time it takes to receive compensation after a motorcycle accident varies based on several factors, such as the complexity of your case, the severity of your injuries, and the willingness of the at-fault party's insurance company to reach a fair settlement.
The most efficient way to speed up the process is to hire an experienced Columbia motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Do I Need a Lawyer if the At-Fault Driver's Insurance Company Already Offered Me a Settlement?
Yes, you do. Never accept a settlement from an at-fault driver's insurance company without first talking to a knowledgeable lawyer. Insurance companies often offer lowball settlements directly to accident victims, hoping they'll agree to them before learning what their claims are worth.
A lawyer can evaluate the insurance company's offer, explain whether it's fair, and negotiate with them to get you the best deal possible. A skilled attorney can typically secure a far higher settlement than that which an insurance company initially offered.
Contact an Experienced Columbia Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
Motorcycle accidents can occur anywhere in Columbia, South Carolina. No matter where the wreck happened that harmed you or your loved one, you deserve fair compensation for your losses, and a skilled Columbia motorcycle accident lawyer will get it for you. Contact one today for your free case evaluation.