Bluffton Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Motorcycle accidents have been known to be some of the most traumatic and life-altering events that someone could experience on the road. The injuries that stem from motorcycle accidents alone are enough to completely reorient the way that an injured person operates during their day-to-day life.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury as a result of a motorcycle-related crash, you might be considering your options for legal and financial recovery. But fighting for your right to recovery without legal assistance could be overwhelming. A Bluffton motorcycle accident lawyer could provide the guidance and support you may be looking for. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney could review your circumstances, help you build your case, and help you seek compensation for your damages.
How to Seek Compensation for a Motorcycle Accident in Bluffton
South Carolina is a fault insurance state. Under the fault approach to auto insurance, claimants have three options for seeking recovery. This includes seeking claim with their own insurance company, with the at-fault driver’s insurance, or against the at-fault driver directly.
First, claimants may seek an insurance claim with their own insurance carrier. This is normally the only option for citizens in no-fault states. However, they may only seek additional legal remedies if they meet a serious injury or monetary threshold. An insurance carrier often pursues a subrogation claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy to recover the cost of the claim.
Second, claimants may file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance. And third, claimants may file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Unlike no-fault states, no serious injury or monetary threshold is necessary to file a case. A knowledgeable motorcycle crash lawyer in Bluffton could help prospective plaintiffs file the required litigation papers in pursuit of a lawsuit, as well as negotiate a settlement with the insurance companies or parties involved if applicable to the case.
What Types of Damages Can a Motorcyclist Recover?
Plaintiffs that are injured in motorcycle accidents might be seeking economic damages or non-economic damages endured as a result of their injuries. Monetary losses, such as medical expenses, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages, make up the majority of economic damages. Meanwhile, non-economic damages compensate plaintiffs for emotional losses such as pain and suffering. Judges and juries determine non-economic damages by looking at the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Negligence and Liability in Bluffton Motorcycle Accidents
For a successful outcome in a civil lawsuit, injured victims must prove that another person or entity was liable for their injuries and that those injuries resulted in quantifiable losses. Proving negligence and, therefore, liability involves establishing that the following elements are present:
Duty of Care
A duty of care is a legal responsibility that a person or party owes to others to avoid actions or omissions that will cause them harm. Moreover, drivers on the road owe a duty of care to other motorists to avoid causing accidents and behaving in ways consistent with what could be reasonably expected of any other person.
Breach of Duty of Care
A breach or violation of a duty of care occurs when a person or party fails to uphold a legal responsibility. For example, a driver operating a vehicle while intoxicated is violating their duty of care to others traveling on the road by being visually, mentally, and physically impaired, putting them in harm’s way.
Causation and Losses
There must be a causal link between a person’s actions, their breach of duty, and an accident survivor’s injuries. For example, if an intoxicated driver was involved in an accident with a motorcyclist, one cannot assume that the driver’s impairment was the direct cause of it. There must be proof. Bad weather or a motorcyclist’s own actions cannot be the cause.
Furthermore, there must be calculable losses sustained by the accident survivor, such as medical bills and emotional anguish, that can be represented as recoverable damages in a lawsuit. No losses = no grounds for a lawsuit.
S.C.’s Statute of Limitations in Motorcycle Accident Injury Cases
Among the many obstacles that could prevent a plaintiff from seeking these damages, the statute of limitations has continued to preclude plaintiffs from recovering compensation for their injuries. It is important to consider the filing deadlines and to timely file the lawsuit, or risk losing the ability to sue altogether.
A statute of limitations is a legal deadline placed on every cause of action to ensure that people who file before the deadline can pursue compensation, and those that do not are barred from filing their case forever. In the instance of motorcycle accidents, which fall under personal injury, a plaintiff has three years to file their case from the date of the accident, according to South Carolina Code § 15-3-530. A motorcycle collision attorney in Bluffton could advise plaintiffs of the relevant deadlines for their case.
Common Causes of Bluffton Motorcycle Accidents
Per the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, a person dies in a motorcycle accident every 3.3 days in the state. And, unfortunately, more than 5,000 motorcyclists and their passengers die in traffic accidents annually across the United States, the Insurance Information Institute (III) reports. And for every accident fatality, many more suffer severe and life-changing injuries.
Certain motorcycle features make them inherently more dangerous than other motor vehicles, such as being less stable and visible to other motorists, having less breaking power, and lacking a protective external shell. Some common causes of motorcycle accidents include the following:
Despite having side and rearview mirrors, drivers have difficulty seeing objects in their blind spots, often those that occur behind the vehicle. And in general, the taller and longer car or truck, the bigger the blind spots. Motorcycles are notoriously difficult to see because they are so much smaller than passenger and commercial vehicles.
A dooring accident results from a biker colliding with an open door of a passenger vehicle located in their path, such as when parked next to a curb. Or, if the biker does manage to swerve, they can strike another motor vehicle in their way.
Drug or Alcohol Impairment
Alcohol impairment is a significant cause of many motor vehicle accidents, including those involving motorcycles. Consuming intoxicating substances causes physical and mental deficits in the skills required for safe driving, such as the ability to steer effectively, control speed, and make sound decisions.
When a motor vehicle driver speeds, it reduces the time they or another motorist have to perceive and react to hazards. Also, the distance required to bring the vehicle safely to a stop increases when traveling at an excessive speed.
Poor Road Conditions
Potholes, gravel, and other road debris are usually not significant problems for passenger vehicles. Regardless, they may be dangerous for motorcycles, which are less stable than other vehicles.
Cars Turning Left
Many motorcycle accidents occur at intersections when a car or truck turns left into a rider’s path while they are traveling straight through.
Defective Motorcycles and Parts
Manufacturers and distributors of motorcycles and parts that fail to provide high-quality products can be held responsible for accident-related injuries caused by a product malfunction.
Common Injuries Associated With Bluffton Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle riders are more vulnerable to weather and road condition hazards than drivers in cars and trucks. Furthermore, motorcycle injuries tend to be more severe due to the lack of protection that an enclosed vehicle provides.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Among the most severe injuries motorcyclists can suffer are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). TBIs commonly cause cognitive deficits, including speaking and language difficulties, problems with controlling emotions and impulses, and a reduced ability to recall past events.
In addition, TBI survivors frequently struggle with impaired coordination and balance and may experience a loss of functioning in their primary senses. Often, TBI survivors experience cognitive deficits that can lead to long-term or permanent disabilities that make it difficult or impossible for them to maintain gainful employment or complete basic daily tasks.
Under South Carolina law, only motorcycle riders under 21 must wear helmets. Unfortunately, riders who don’t wear sufficiently protective helmets, such as those approved by the Department of Transportation, are much more likely to sustain a TBI in an accident.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Like TBIs, spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can result in permanent disability and involve paralysis below the injury site or a loss of sensation and function. Injuries that occur higher on the spine tend to affect a more significant portion of the body and can result in paraplegia or quadriplegia.
High-impact collisions involving motorcycles frequently cause a rider or passenger to be thrown from the bike, thereby striking a vehicle, object, ground, or roadway forcefully. As a result, it is not uncommon for motorcyclists to sustain multiple bone fractures from a single accident, some of which may be severe.
While an accident is occurring, the motorcyclist’s arms and legs are at high risk of incurring severe damage or being torn from the body. Furthermore, if a rider sustains limb damage too extensive for health professionals to repair, they may be subject to surgical amputation.
Riders who instinctively attempt to catch their fall during a collision may suffer severe damage to the arm’s muscles, tendons, and nerves, also commonly referred to as “biker’s arm.”
Motorcyclists who ride without a helmet or one that includes a sturdy face shield are at risk of suffering severe facial trauma. Riders often experience lacerations, deep cuts, and fractures to the facial bones that can cause scarring and permanent disfigurement.
Motorcycle accidents can result in gasoline spilling out and igniting, resulting in the rider or passenger sustaining severe burns. Also, gas and other chemicals needed for the motorcycle to operate are caustic, so riders can also incur chemical burns.
How a Bluffton Motorcycle Accident Attorney Could Help
Some lucky few are able to walk away from a motorcycle accident without a scratch. But for the majority that does not, the process of recovery, rehabilitation, and restitution could be a long and difficult road.
A Bluffton motorcycle accident lawyer might be able to help guide you down that road. They could lead you down the path to recovery, helping you navigate through the complex legal procedures and processes that keep so many from moving forward with their legal recovery efforts. Call Schiller & Hamilton today to discuss your case.