South Carolina Bicycle Accident Lawyers

Many of us love to ride bicycles – for convenient, economical transportation and just for the fun of it. But bicyclists are a vulnerable minority in South Carolina, far outnumbered by cars and trucks that often pass dangerously close to a bike rider hugging the shoulder of the road.

From Our Client Case FilesBicycle Hit by CarOne of the on-the-scene photos from a client’s bicycle injury lawsuit.

Like motorcyclists, bicycle riders don’t have the advantage of seat belts, air bags and a cage of reinforced steel to keep them safe in a collision. Unlike motorcycles, bicycles are harder for motorists to see and are impossible to hear; they are vulnerable to cars exiting driveways and motorists opening car doors; and they often must dodge the debris and water that collects at curbs.

How Common are Bike Accidents?

Figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that bicyclists account for 2 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities and 2 percent of traffic injuries. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that in 2011, 726 bicyclists died on our roads and 48,000 were injured in traffic. Young people (age 15 and younger) are at special risk, accounting for 13 percent of fatalities and 23 percent of injuries in 2011. The majority of fatal bicycle accidents in South Carolina and nationally happen between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., during the summer, prime times for kids with bikes. However, the proportion of bicyclists over 25 has grown dramatically since 1995, and the average age of a fatally injured cyclist in 2011 was 43 — showing that this is an adults’ issue as well.

Bicycle Accidents in South Carolina

Infographic: Cycling S.C.According to the 2009 Traffic Collision Fact Book published by the SC Department of Public Safety, one bicyclist is killed in our state every 28.1 days. In 2009, South Carolina saw 13 fatalities and 464 injuries resulting from traffic collisions involving cyclists.

Both bicyclists and motorists often complain that the other group does not “share the road.” South Carolina state law grants bicyclists all the rights of motorized vehicles, but also all of the responsibilities. That means that bicyclists must obey stop signs and traffic signals, just as they would while driving a car. Motorists must allow bicycles to occupy a reasonable part of the road and yield when appropriate. And the law says drivers must take special care when approaching a child in the road (as well as a person who is “obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated”).

If you or someone you care about was hit while riding a bicycle and was seriously injured or killed by a careless motorist, contact the Louthian Law Firm today via our online form, or call us toll free at 888-662-2897 or at our local Columbia number, 803-454-1200, for a free evaluation of your case.

Causes of Bicycle Accidents

Many of the things that cause bicycle accidents are factors involved in car accident in general:

  • A driver crowds the rider and sideswipes the bicycle or hits it with a side mirror.
  • Some cars fail to yield the right of way to a bicyclist.
  • A car which runs a stop sign or red light may collide with a bicycle rider; however, according to NHTSA, two-thirds of all bicycle accidents occur at non-intersection locations.
  • The driver exiting a parked car may open the door into a passing bicyclist.
  • Drivers sometimes cut off bicyclists by making turns immediately in front of them.
  • Distracted drivers may fail to see the bicycle in time to avoid a crash.
  • NHTSA reports that alcohol use is involved (either by the driver of the motor vehicle or by the cyclist) in 37 percent of all fatal bicycle accidents.

Common Injuries Suffered in Bicycle Accidents

When a car or truck hits a bicycle, even if the rider is not killed, he or she may suffer devastating and even life-changing injuries, including the following:

  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Abrasions (“road rash”)
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Organ damage
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Traumatic brain injury.

Victims of brain injuries often live with crippling disabilities, including problems getting around, reduced cognitive abilities, speech problems and even personality changes. Families of those who have sustained a catastrophic bicycle injury must worry not only about their loved one’s permanent disability and pain, but also the impact of the financial costs for the family.

To Wear a Helmet or Not to Wear a Helmet?

South Carolina is one of only 13 states that have no law requiring bicyclists to wear a helmet, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. Bicycle riders who are killed in accidents usually suffer head injuries. Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that of the 616 fatal bicycle accidents in 2010, 429 (or 70 percent) of the riders were not wearing a helmet. Even when the accident is not a fatal one, it can result in disabling traumatic brain injuries. The Snell Memorial Foundation estimates indirect costs for injuries to unhelmeted cyclists are $2.3 billion yearly.

FAQs: Bicycle Injuries in South Carolina

Bicycles are a fun and economical source of transportation and recreation. Unfortunately, many people are injured each year while riding a bike. We hope the following information will be helpful to you if you or someone in your family has been the victim of such an accident.

Do bicycle riders have the same rights as motorists?
Do I have to ride on the shoulder of the road?
What should I do if a car or truck causes me to have a bike accident?
Should I call a lawyer?
How much money can I hope to collect?
Can I claim damages from a source other than a driver?
Will I be compensated for my medical expenses?
Why should I call the Louthian Law Firm?

Do bicycle riders have the same rights as motorists?

Bicyclists have many rights, but they also have many responsibilities. The S.C. Code puts it this way: “A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway must be granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to [special provisions and exceptions].”

Do I have to ride on the shoulder of the road?

A bicyclist is supposed to stay to the right in the right-hand lane and going in the same direction as other traffic. Many accidents are caused by motor vehicles that don’t give a bike sufficient room and either sideswipe it or cause it to run off the road and crash.

What should I do if a car or truck causes me to have a bike accident?

Hopefully you or a passerby will have a cellphone to immediately call the police and EMTs. Try to obtain the license plate number of the vehicle if it leaves the scene. Take pictures of the scene, including your bicycle, if at all possible. Of primary importance, of course, is that you get medical attention, even if you think your injuries are not serious.

Should I call a lawyer?

An injury lawyer who has experience in bicycle accidents will understand the complexity of S.C. laws in this area and will be able to advise you as to your next steps. At the Louthian Law Firm in Columbia, we do not charge for the initial consultation, so you need not be concerned about wasting money just to ask questions. Feel free to call (803) 454-1200 to schedule a visit to our office.

How much money can I hope to collect?

Every accident is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. What we can do is assure you that the 80 years of experience we have in our firm will be focused on obtaining full and fair damages for you, based on your particular circumstances. Our representation will be personalized and persistent as we seek compensation from every available source.

Can I claim damages from a source other than a driver?

If your injuries resulted from a collision with a motor vehicle, or because a motorist forced you to take evasive action which then caused you to crash, your claim will be against the driver and his or her insurance carrier. In some situations, however, others may be at fault. If the accident was due to a dangerous condition on the roadway or failure of private property owners to maintain their site, the applicable entities may be held liable. If your accident resulted from a defect in the bicycle or one of its components or a repair that was negligently handled, damages may be sought from the manufacturer, retailer or bike shop.

Will I be compensated for my medical expenses?

A bicycle accident lawyer from the Louthian Law Firm may be able to help you collect compensation for what you have paid to doctors and therapists, hospitals and clinics, pharmacies and medical suppliers. You may also seek payment of future medical bills related to your injuries. If you have lost time from work, you may claim lost wages as well as loss of future earning ability, if any. Finally, you may seek compensation for the damage done to your bicycle.
At the Louthian Law Firm, we urge all bicycle riders to wear an approved safety helmet to decrease the likelihood that they, and their family, will suffer the consequences of a catastrophic head injury if they are struck by a motorist.

Contact a South Carolina Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today

If you or someone you love was hurt by an irresponsible driver while riding a bicycle, you have the right to hold that driver responsible. In a bicycle accident lawsuit, you may be able to recover money to pay for past and future medical bills, lost wages, funeral costs, and other financial consequences of the accident, as well as compensation for a wrongful death, permanent disability or serious injury.

As soon as you begin considering bicycle accident litigation, you should contact a South Carolina bike accident injury attorney at the Louthian Law Firm. We have been seeking truth and securing justice for South Carolina accident victims since 1959, and we are committed to providing personalized service. For a free evaluation of your case, call us today toll free at (803) 454-1200 or fill out our confidential online consultation form.