Motorcycle Helmet LawsMotorcycle Accident
Motorcycle accidents are dangerous because of the relative vulnerability of motorcyclists compared to occupants of other vehicles.
Drivers of cars and trucks are encased in tons of metal and cushions. If they crash, motorcyclists are highly exposed to the impact of other vehicles, the road, and obstacles.
South Carolina is a beautiful state, and many people love to drive their motorcycles on our roads. But, driving a cycle comes with a risk.
In a recent year, 141 people died from motorcycle accidents on South Carolina roads—almost 12 every month, on average.
National statistics have proven that motorcyclists who wear a helmet are relatively safer in a crash than those who do not.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helmets reduce the risk of death in motorcycle crashes by 37 percent and reduce the risk of injury by 69 percent.
Those statistics are amply illustrated in South Carolina. Of the 141 fatalities, 41 wore a helmet. More than twice that number, 98, did not.
In other words, far more fatalities in our state were not wearing a helmet at the time of the deadly crash.
The Law on Motorcycle Helmets
Each state sets its own laws and safety standards on motorcycle helmets. Currently, 21 states require all motorcyclists to wear helmets. In 1980, South Carolina repealed the universal helmet law. According to South Carolina law, only motorcycle riders younger than 21 are required to wear a helmet.
In addition, younger riders must have chin straps and reflectors, per the Department of Public Safety regulations on motorcycle helmets. If motorcycles under 21 years of age do not wear helmets, they can receive a misdemeanor citation from law enforcement.
However, everyone who rides a motorcycle is far more at risk of serious injuries and death if they are not wearing a helmet. Motorcyclists risk injuries to the head, brain, spinal cord, and internal organs if they are not wearing a helmet.
Stopping short or being doored are just motorcycle accidents that can throw a cyclist off their bike. Dooring is a type of accident where a motorist opens their door to exit the vehicle without noticing the motorcyclist just behind them.
These injuries can cause death, paralysis, traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI), skull fractures, comas, disfigurement and scarring, amputations, and more. They can cause blindness and loss of hearing.
All of these injuries are potentially catastrophic, meaning that victims may never work again, or perform the ordinary activities of daily living (ADL), such as bathing and dressing, that we take for granted. They may require around-the-clock medical care.
Other Motorcycle Laws in South Carolina
South Carolina also requires cyclists younger than 21 to wear eye protection while driving or riding. Eye protection is also a significant safety precaution for motorcyclists that can protect against serious injury and death.
Motorcyclists are exposed to elements in the air, such as dust, pollen, sand, insects, rain, and so on, that can get into their eyes and make it impossible to see—if only briefly. That inability can lead to accidents.
Not only that, but eye protection also protects the eyes and upper face in an accident.
As a result, it is a very good idea for all motorcyclists to wear eye protection.
Not all motorcycle laws pertain to safety equipment, of course. Many pertain to qualifications for a motorcycle license. Unfortunately, South Carolina’s requirements to obtain a license are somewhat minimal.
The Palmetto State requires a written and vision test for a permit, and a choice of proof of a safety education course or a road skills test to receive a license. Many states require a safety education course. It is required in South Carolina only if the cyclist fails the road test three times.
Damage Compensation for Injuries
Because motorcycle accidents are potentially so injurious, the injured and their families may suffer physical, emotional, mental, and financial harm as a result of an accident.
If you are injured in a South Carolina motorcycle accident caused by someone else, you may be eligible for damage compensation from that party for your injuries. South Carolina is a fault state for accidents, meaning that the person at fault for the accident can be held responsible for compensating those injured in the accident, as long as the injuries specifically stem from the accident and not some other cause.
You could seek damage compensation either by contacting the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier or by bringing a motorcycle accident lawsuit.
You could pursue damage compensation for:
- Medical expenses for emergency room treatment, ambulance transport, diagnostic tests, doctor’s visits, hospitalization, surgery, prescription medication, assistive devices (crutches, canes), physical therapy, and more.
- Wages and lost income from work if the accident renders you unable to work
- The lifetime value of earnings if the accident renders you unable to work at a former occupation at all.
- Personal property damage for personal property lost or damaged in the accident, such as the motorcycle or clothing.
- Pain and suffering for physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering caused by the accident.
Because many motorcycle accidents are very serious, victims often require future medical care and extensive time from work.
In those cases, expert testimony is sought to ascertain standard medical treatment and the length of time the treatment and recovery are expected to be.
Insurance companies use that expert testimony to ascertain the estimated future costs for damage compensation, as well as the estimated future wages likely to be lost from work.
If a Loved One Dies
If your loved one died as a result of a motorcycle accident, the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate can file a wrongful death claim if the victim could have filed a motorcycle accident lawsuit had they lived.
Wrongful death claims are filed for immediate family members, such as the spouse or children (or parents, if they had no spouse or children).
Wrongful death claim damage compensation can include medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship and support, and wages or benefits the family members could have expected had the deceased lived.
For more information, consult a motorcycle accident attorney.
Nathan Hughey, an attorney and fourth-generation South Carolinian, founded Hughey Law Firm in 2007. Before that, he spent five years defending nursing homes and insurance companies. Leveraging his experience, he now advocates for those injured or wronged by such entities, securing over $220 million in verdicts and settlements.