The U. S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration keeps track of traffic safety data. This includes data about motorcycle accidents. In 2013, over 4600 people were killed in motorcycle accidents. Additionally, 88,000 people were injured in motorcycle accidents. Motorcycle fatalities are more than 26 times more frequent than fatalities for passengers in cars. Motorcyclists are also nearly five times more likely to be injured than their car passenger counterparts. In 2013, 51 percent of all motorcycle fatalities included a collision with another motor vehicle.
Common Causes of Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Accidents
Car crashes are the leading cause of preventable injuries and death. There are some readily identifiable behaviors that contribute to the likelihood of an accident. These can include the following:
- Reckless driving;
- Texting while driving;
- Using a cell phone;
- Drivers falling asleep at the wheel
- Distractions such as unruly children in the back seat of the car;
- Drunk driving;
- Driving while under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs; and
- Road rage.
Engaging in any of these behaviors increases the likelihood of an accident.
South Carolina’s Leading Cause of Traffic Fatalities
A 2015 article by Business Insider found that the number one leading cause of fatal motor vehicle crashes within the State of South Carolina is road rage. This study included data for fatalities of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
South Carolina does not have a statute specifically addressing road rage. However, South Carolina does have a criminal charge of reckless driving. When a person “drives any vehicle in such a manner as to indicate either a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property” that conduct meets the standard for reckless driving. S. C. Code Ann. § 56-5-2920. “Willful” means engaging in deliberate conduct. “Wanton” is defined as acting in an unruly manner, or without any limitations or checks on behavior. For example, speeding through a red light could be considered reckless driving. However, speeding alone, at excess rates of speed, could also be considered reckless driving. Generally, reckless driving is defined by the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the incident.
Common behaviors that could be construed as reckless driving, or aggressive driving, include tailgating, racing, failing to abide by signs and basic traffic rules. Road rage can also include active behavior on behalf of a driver to confront other drivers. We’ve all been angered by the thoughtless conduct of another driver. But engaging in reckless or aggressive driving to express our anger is illegal – precisely because it can lead to injuries or even death.
What You Might Be Entitled to If You Are Injured in a Motorcycle Accident With Another Vehicle
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, or if you have lost a loved one due to a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to be compensated for your injuries. Compensation comes in many forms. You may be entitled to economic damages, such as medical care and loss of earnings. You can also be entitled to non-economic damages, such as compensation for pain and suffering, inconvenience, or mental anguish. This compensation typically, but not always, comes from the other driver’s insurance policy.
What You Should Do If You’ve Been Injured or Lost a Loved One in a Motorcycle Accident
If you’ve lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, or if you were injured in a motorcycle accident with another motor vehicle, or another motorcycle, you should contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible.
What an Attorney Can Do for You
You can meet with an attorney at no cost to you to discuss your motorcycle injury, or the death of your loved one. At the initial meeting, you can expect your attorney to ask you questions about the facts and circumstances surrounding the crash. This will include a description of the location of the crash, the time of day, the weather conditions, the lighting conditions, etc. Questions about the amount of traffic, and speed of traffic are also normal. If you have a copy of a police report, it’s helpful for you to provide that to your attorney at or before your meeting.
Once your attorney has gathered the facts surrounding your crash, they will move on to your injuries. If your loved one died in the crash, you can expect questions about the nature and extent of their injuries prior to their death. Other documentation that can be helpful, but not necessarily critical to a first visit with an attorney, can include photos of injuries, if they have already started to heal.
Both the conditions and facts surrounding the accident, and the nature and types of subsequent injuries, are important in assessing whether you have a claim, as well as how much that claim may be worth. Attorneys familiar with motorcycle accidents and personal injury are also familiar with average jury awards in lawsuits. As surprising as it may seem, different juries in different parts of the country value accidents and injuries differently. Your lawyer’s knowledge of average awards will not be based on national data, but rather, data specific to your county and state. Additionally, your lawyer will have an idea of what types of amounts various insurance companies resolve claims for. This will help inform your lawyer of the potential value of any claim you may have.
What You Should Do if You Were Injured in a Motorcycle Accident or Lost a Loved One Due to a Motorcycle Accident
If you lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, or if you were injured in a motorcycle accident yourself, you may be entitled to compensation for both your economic losses and your noneconomic losses. Your case needs to be carefully evaluated by attorneys who regularly practice in the area of car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and personal injury law. The facts and circumstances of each motorcycle accident are unique. Don’t assume you are not entitled to compensation without talking to an attorney. You have rights under South Carolina Law. Contact the dedicated Greenwood and Upstate South Carolina personal injury attorneys of Ayers, Smithdeal, & Bettis, Attorneys at Law for a free consultation.