What You Need to Know About Bicycle-Car Accidents in South Carolina
Bicyclists, be careful on the roads. Overall, bicycle riders have a higher risk of injury and death than do motor vehicle drivers, according to the CDC. The risks around bicycle accidents are even higher for cyclists on the roads in South Carolina, which SCDOT reports has been one of the most dangerous states for cyclists for a number of years.
If you regularly ride a bicycle in traffic, here’s what you should know about bicycle-car accidents.
What Causes Bicycle Accidents?
Nearly 1 in 3 bicycle accidents involve a car, making bike-car accidents the leading type of bicycle accident. Common reasons for bicycle-car accidents include:
- Following too closely
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Switching lanes suddenly or incorrectly
- Making an illegal turn
- Car door opening into cyclist (“dooring”)
- Car reversing without checking for cyclists
- Car driving in bike lane
- Distracted driving/riding
- Driving under the influence (Alcohol was a factor in 35% of bike-car accidents)
(Statistics taken from the NHTSA.)
When a Bicycle-Car Accident Becomes a Lawsuit: Determining Fault
Determining who is at fault in a bicycle-car accident is essential in knowing who should pay damages and how much.
Bicycles are considered vehicles in South Carolina and must obey traffic laws applicable to motor vehicles, plus additional laws applicable to bikes only, which can vary by municipality. The court will determine fault by examining how all parties behaved leading up to the accident and which parties were negligent.
Bicycle riders who were injured in an accident may be able to recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering or emotional distress, and property damage such as a damaged bicycle.
What If Both Cyclist and Driver Were At Fault?
As stated above, some accidents are caused by errors on the part of both cyclist and driver. When that happens, it depends on which party was more at fault in determining who will pay damages.
South Carolina has a doctrine of “comparative negligence,” which means that even if the cyclist was found to be partially responsible for the accident, they can still receive compensation as long as they were not responsible for more than 50% of the accident. (Percentages are decided by a jury who hears both sides and determines the amount of negligence of each party.)
The percentage matters because it directly affects how much compensation will be awarded. If the cyclist was found to be 25% responsible for the accident, and the driver found to be 75% responsible, then the cyclist will get 75% of the amount in damages determined rather than the full 100%.
What To Do If You’re In a Bicycle-Car Accident
As with any other vehicle accident, the first thing to do is to address any medical injuries.
Next, you should try to take photographs of the accident area and the damage to yourself and your property. Call the police and ask people who witnessed the accident to give a statement. Finally, call a bicycle accident attorney like Attorney Andrew Barr to discuss your case.
Attorney Barr is a personal injury attorney serving clients in Greenville, SC and the surrounding upstate area. Call (864) 235-3154 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case and find out how an experienced personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve in your bicycle accident. Call today.
Attorney Andrew C. Barr’s practice areas include personal injury, workers’ compensation, and product liability. Andrew graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law and has been practicing law since 1989. He has represented persons in all courts including family court, circuit court, magistrates court, property damage arbitration, mediation, federal court, the SC Court of Appeals and the SC Supreme Court.
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