Motorcycle Accident Damages
As it pertains to motorcycle accidents and personal injury cases in South Carolina, damages are what you are entitled to if you are injured in a motorcycle accident. Another way to put it is, what can you all be compensated for if you are in a motorcycle accident in South Carolina?
Personal injury damages are broken into two groups.
1. Economic Damages
Economic damages that compensate you for things like medical bills or lost wages.
2. Non-economic Damages
Medical Bills & Costs
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to full compensation for your medical bills, both past, and future. This includes:
- Emergency Transportation by an Ambulance
- Emergency Room Visit
- Surgical Treatments
- Emergency Helicopter Transportation
- Hospital Stay
- Physical Therapy
- Doctor Visits, including chiropractic care & physical therapy
- Transportation to Medical Treatment
- Adaptative Medical Devices
- Nursing Care (at home or inpatient)
- Rehabilitation Costs
- Funeral Costs
If your injuries have not healed by the time your case is resolved or if they are expected to be permanent injuries, then you may be compensated for future medical expenses as well. A doctor might also be consulted to provide testimony on the medical costs you could incur in the future.
Punitive damages are not intended to compensate an injured victim but rather intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar acts. South Carolina Code Section 15-32-510 limits the amount of punitive awards to $500,000 or three times the amount of the compensatory damages the injured party received, except in certain limited circumstances. There is also a higher degree of proof an injured party must show to be awarded punitive damages by a jury. Punitive damages may be awarded to an injured party when the harm to the victim was caused by willful or reckless conduct, which the plaintiffs must prove. The judge or jury will consider a variety of factors in determining whether punitive damages are warranted and if so, the appropriate amount.
These factors include:
- The at-fault party’s degree of culpability,
- The severity of the injuries and harm,
- The extent to which the plaintiff’s own actions contributed to the accident or injuries if any,
- The defendant’s ability to pay punitive damages,
- The duration of the conduct,
- Whether the defendant attempted to conceal the wrongful acts or prior similar acts,
- Whether awarding punitive damages will deter the defendant or others from committing similar acts,
- and whether there were criminal charges or civil penalties.
Compensation for Lost Income
If the injuries cause you to miss time at work, you may be entitled to compensation for lost income.
If your injuries affect your earning capacity for the remainder of your life, you may receive compensation for future lost wages.
There are minor factors to consider when taking into account future lost wages, such as your salary, career path prior to your injury, your education, career skills, and age. An experienced personal injury attorney can have you evaluated by an expert who can provide testimony on the value of your future lost wages.
Compensation for Pain, Suffering, & Mental Anguish
Pain and suffering and mental anguish fall under non-economic damages and encompasses all the discomfort that you have experienced because of your injuries. This also includes future pain and suffering from dealing with your injuries in the future. Not only can you receive compensation for physical and mental pain, but also for any reduction in your quality of life such as your ability to engage in daily activities.
It is difficult to put a number on physical and mental pain. However, an experienced personal injury attorney can guide you to the amount of compensation that you deserve for your pain, suffering, and mental anguish.
- According to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV), in 2019 there were 215,957 motorcyclists registered to ride in South Carolina.
- According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety Office (SCDPS), one motorcyclist is killed in South Carolina every 3 days.
- In 2019 there were 2041 total collisions involving a motorcycle in South Carolina.
- The majority of motorcycle accidents occur on Saturdays between the hours of 3 pm and 6 pm.
- In 2019, there were 123 motorcyclist fatalities on South Carolina roadways according to the SCDPS.
- South Carolina ranks in the top 5 states in which the most motorcycle fatalities occur.
- The majority of motorcycle accidents occur at intersections.
Things You Need To Know About Motorcycle-Vehicle Collisions
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reports that approximately 70% of motorcycle-vehicle collisions occur at intersections.
Although motorcycle accidents are most often caused by 4-wheeled vehicles engaging in left-turn failures, inappropriate lane changes, rear-ending at a stop, or driving under the influence, the effects can result in much more severe injuries than what would otherwise be a minor collision between two four-wheeled vehicles.
Additionally, unlike its neighbor states Georgia and North Carolina, as well as Tennessee, Alabama, and Virginia, South Carolina no longer has a universal helmet law that requires all riders to wear a helmet. The law was dropped in 1980, therefore in South Carolina today, anyone over the age of 21 is not required to wear a helmet. Operators and passengers under age 21, however, must wear a helmet per SC Code 56-5-3660 (2012).
For obvious reasons, motorcycle accidents can more often result in devastating physical harm to the motorists involved.
Because Personal Injury Insurance Protection (PIP) in some states is only required for vehicles with four or more wheels, motorcyclists are not permitted to carry PIP coverage. Even if the motorcyclist owns a car that is covered by PIP insurance, the coverage does not extend to accidents that occur on the motorcycle. If the motorcyclist is uninsured, they may struggle to pay for costly medical bills, especially if the injury prevents them from working.
If you were injured in a crash, an attorney can explain your options for pursuing compensation for medical bills and other losses — which could be further compounded by circumstances such as medical malpractice. If you contact an attorney immediately after the accident, he or she can begin to collect information and evidence to support your compensation claim.
If the motorcyclist was not at fault, they may be able to seek damages from the party negligent in causing the crash. While motorcyclists are not covered by PIP insurance, they are also not bound by its restrictions. Injured riders are not limited in the damages they may seek to compensate for their losses, including damages for pain and suffering.
Motorcyclists do not have to pass an injury threshold to seek compensation for damages, which may include medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Negligence means carelessness
Motorcycle accident lawsuits fall under the category of personal injury, which in turn is based on the theory of negligence.
In other words, your attorney will have to prove that the other driver in the accident was at fault because he or she failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care. To do so, your attorney will investigate to learn more about the incident, including whether the other driver followed traffic laws, paid attention to his or her surroundings, was driving under the influence, etc.
If you have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, you may have recourse to recover compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. An attorney can help the family of the deceased prove the negligence of the other driver was the cause of the victim’s death. Common motorcycle injuries are:
- Head or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) even with helmets
- Neck or spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic leg and foot injuries, where a possible crushing may occur
- Broken bones
- Road rash, with possible permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Severe internal injuries relating to organ or nerve damage, internal bleeding, etc.
Therefore, in Motorcycle Personal Injury cases, medical cost coverages, expenses, lost wages, and liability are of the utmost importance for a defendant to define and prove.
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, multiple parties may be at fault, including the driver of the other vehicle, the motorcycle manufacturer, or even the local government for dangerous road conditions. Protection of legal rights by identifying liable parties can alleviate financial burdens that may have been caused by another’s recklessness. Determining who should be held accountable must be carefully evaluated, by gathering evidence such as witness testimony, video footage, and cell phone records.
Various road conditions on highways, interstates, busy neighborhood roads, or even back roads with various grading or paving types, affect motorcycles in a more direct way than any other type of motor vehicle, and their inclusion in evidence gathering is paramount.
As in other Automobile and other Personal Injury cases, damages may be collected for medical treatments and hospitalizations, short-term and long-term disability, future medical care as necessary, occupational, and physical therapy, prescription drugs and medications, lost earnings, and pain and suffering compensations.
How do Motorcyle Accidents Occur in South Carolina?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that approximately 70% of motorcycle-vehicle collisions occur at intersections because motorcycles are less visible to other drivers. The causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Reckless lane changes,
- Speeding or driving too fast for conditions,
- Following motorcyclists too closely,
- Failing to pay attention,
- Distracted drivers,
- Motorist turning in front of a motorcyclist,
- Failure to see or observe motorcyclist,
- Dooring accidents,
- Aggressive Driving,
- Bad weather,
- Inadequate road maintenance/repairs
Additionally, road conditions and hazards might cause a motorcyclist accident. In these situations where poor construction practices may have caused the motorcyclist accident, multiple parties may be liable such as the city or county where the road is located, the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the South Carolina Department of Construction and Planning, or private construction companies involved in the project, contractors, and subcontractors. Determining which parties are responsible for road conditions and hazards is important to ensure full and fair compensation.
You Need Supplemental Insurance Coverage For Custom Motorcycles in South Carolina. Here's why.
South Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Unlike other states, including neighboring states like Georgia and North Carolina, South Carolina does not have a universal helmet law that requires all riders to wear helmets. In South Carolina, if you are 21 years old or younger you are required to wear a helmet. This law is part of the reasons motorcyclists are attracted to South Carolina. Particularly the Myrtle Beach and Charleston area.
Motorcyclist accidents in South Carolina can be devastating and determining the liable parties can be complex. These types of accidents can cause serious injuries, including:
- Road rash
- Broken legs, feet, arms, and hands
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head, neck, and facial injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Abdominal injuries
- Internal injuries
- Serious lacerations
- Internal bleeding
Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Fee Arrangement
The Feidler Law Firm believes that everyone deserves high-quality legal representation, no matter their financial status. Therefore, we operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay us only when we win your case. Our fee would come in the form of a percentage of the settlement or verdict amount we obtain. If there is no recovery, there will be no attorneys’ fees.
You’re not alone. The Feidler Law Firm is here to help. Submit your information through our web form, or call The Feidler Law Firm at 843-790-9015 for a FREE consultation to discuss your case.