SC roads are more dangerous than ever for motorcyclists – our state reported the highest number of motorcycle fatalities since 1980 – 154 deaths – in 2021.
This was 9% higher than the number of motorcycle fatalities in SC in 2020, a significant increase.
What are some of the more common causes of motorcycle crashes, and what should you do if you are involved in a motorcycle accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence?
What Causes Motorcycle Crashes?
What are some of the more common causes of motorcycle crashes?
Many crashes are at least partially the fault of the motorcyclist and could have been avoided, including when the motorcyclist makes mistakes like:
- Not keeping a proper lookout – even when an accident is caused by another driver’s negligence, like opening a car door, making a left turn in front of the motorcycle, or sudden stops, the accident may have been avoided if the motorcyclist was hypervigilant and aware of their surroundings,
- Lane splitting – when a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of traffic it is called lane splitting. Although this practice has its benefits, it can be dangerous for inexperienced riders, and it is illegal in SC,
- Following too closely – if you do not leave enough space between you and the car in front of you, you will slam into the back of their vehicle if they hit the brakes,
- Inexperience – if you are new and you are still learning, you should be hyper-vigilant and cautious – it’s best to stay off city streets and keep to less-traveled country roads at first, and
- Driving under the influence – just as drivers of automobiles or trucks cause crashes when they are intoxicated, a motorcyclist who has had too much to drink can crash, resulting in severe injury or death to the driver or passenger.
Many motorcycle fatalities are caused by other motorists who are careless, reckless, and inconsiderate of the motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians with whom they share the road. Some of the more common causes of motorcycle crashes include:
- Failure to keep a proper lookout – motorists who are not looking for motorcycles may not see them,
- Car doors – when a driver or passenger in a car or truck opens their vehicle door in the path of an approaching motorcyclist,
- Speeding – exceeding the speed limit is a major contributor to all vehicle accidents including motorcycle collisions,
- Unsafe lane changes – when a driver fails to check over their shoulder or fails to use their signal and turns into a motorcyclist in the next lane,
- Driving under the influence – a driver who causes a motorcycle crash while under the influence may be arrested and charged criminally in addition to civil liability for causing the crash,
- Sudden stops – when a car or truck stops suddenly, the motorcyclist behind them may not have enough time to brake or avoid crashing into them,
- Left turns – many motorcycle collisions are caused by a car or truck driver turning left in front of the motorcycle,
- Motorcycle defects – motorcycle parts that fail or do not work properly can cause crashes, and the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of the defective part may be liable after a crash, and
- Dangerous road conditions – potholes, debris in the road, gravel, or insufficient road signs can lead to motorcycle accidents, and, in some cases, the municipality may be liable for the crash.
Are Motorcycles “Inherently” Dangerous?
Are motorcycles inherently dangerous?
Well, yes. Obviously, if you are in a collision, you are much more likely to suffer severe injury or death than if you were driving an SUV. That doesn’t absolve another driver of liability if they cause you to crash, though.
The driver who causes the collision is responsible for all damage that they caused. Whether the injured party is on a motorcycle, in a car, in a tank, or walking down the street, when a driver injures them through their negligence, they are liable.
In SC, it is not considered assumption of the risk or comparative negligence to ride a motorcycle. It is also not assumption of the risk or comparative negligence to not wear a helmet if you are 21 or older.
If an insurance agent tells you that your case is worth less money because you were riding a motorcycle or because you did not have a helmet on, they are lying. As a matter of law, riding a motorcycle or not wearing a helmet is not assumption of the risk or comparative negligence, and the insurance company will not be permitted to make that argument in court.
What to Do if You are In a Motorcycle Crash Caused by Someone Else
If a careless driver causes you to crash on your motorcycle, you are entitled to recover damages including your current and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage, vocational rehab, long-term care when needed, compensation for scars or disfigurement, lost wages and future lost earning potential, mental anguish and emotional distress, and punitive damages in some cases.
If you are in a motorcycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence:
- Get the medical attention you need and follow your doctors’ recommendations,
- Do not talk to the other driver’s insurance company or give them any statements,
- Contact a Myrtle Beach motorcycle accident lawyer immediately,
- Let your motorcycle crash attorney on the Axelrod team investigate your case, communicate with the insurance company, negotiate a settlement, file suit on your behalf, and try your case to a jury if the insurance company does not pay full and fair compensation for your injuries.
The Myrtle Beach motorcycle crash lawyers at Axelrod and Associates help motorcycle crash victims and their families to recover full and fair compensation from careless drivers who injure or kill motorcyclists on SC’s highways.