In December 2014, 13-year-old Patrick Terry was killed in a tragic accident at the Club MX motocross course in Chesterfield, S.C. The accident happened when Patrick went over a jump and a more experienced rider came up behind him, made the jump, and landed right on the boy’s back.
“He died right before he got to the hospital,” reports the boy’s father, Ed Terry.
Terry blames himself for his son’s death, but he also blames the Club MX motocross facility. He believes the accident was caused in large part by a lack of safety equipment and practices that could have warned the rider that Patrick Terry was on the other side of the jump.
Ed Terry is currently in a wrongful death lawsuit with Club MX concerning their lack of safety implements. The case may come to a jury trial later in 2019. But this case brings a larger issue to light: like many states, South Carolina does not have safety regulations for motocross tracks.
No Enforcement Without Regulation
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has a set of regulations for official AMA racing events. These regulations include things like separating riders by their level of experience and having flaggers on the track to warn riders of potentially dangerous conditions.
However, there are no standards for the everyday safety and functioning of motocross tracks. South Carolina is not alone in this; according to the AMA, very few states have any official regulations on motocross tracks.
This means official racing events are pretty well regulated, but the everyday running of these dirt-bike tracks doesn’t have any strong regulation. Ed Terry said, “The AMA can come up with all these rules, but if there’s no legislative teeth involved there’s no forcing anybody to comply with anything.”
Thoughts About Regulation in the Senate
State senators have mixed opinions about the need for government action on the motocross problem. Charleston State Senator Sandy Senn said, “I feel so much for the family in this case, but when you decide to undergo a dangerous sport, you do so undertaking it under your own risk.”
State Senator Thomas Alexander admitted that Patrick Terry’s death was a tragedy, but when asked about the need for regulation, he said, “I don’t know. We need to evaluate the role of government in the regulation of these things, but it certainly will warrant a conversation with [The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation] about tracks such as this, and not just this particular one.”
It is not clear at this time whether the state government will move to take action on motocross regulation or not.
Bert Louthian has been practicing law in Columbia with his father, Herb, since 1985. After receiving his Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina, Bert launched his legal career in his father’s firm. With 80 years of legal experience between them, Louthian Law, P.A. remains Family-Owned and Family-Focused.
Bert understands that when life goes wrong – when you or someone you love gets hurt or suffers a loss, it can feel like nothing will ever be right or fair again. He gets up and goes to work every day to prove that feeling wrong – and does everything in his power to make things right again.