Motorcycle accidents often happen because other drivers on the road fail to pay attention to motorcycles. If you or a loved one was hit while driving a motorcycle, it is likely that the accident was not your fault. Victims of these kinds of crashes deserve help with their medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. That’s where a motorcycle accident lawyer comes in.
When you work with a Columbia motorcycle accident lawyer, your attorney can fight to get you compensation for your injuries. The at-fault driver and their insurance companies may try to avoid liability or offer low-dollar settlements. An attorney can negotiate for higher damages and, if they refuse to pay, take your case to court.
For a free legal consultation on your motorcycle case, call Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers. Our Columbia, SC motorcycle accident lawyers can fight for you and work to get you the compensation you deserve. For a free case consultation, contact us at (803) 471-4195.
Can Motorcycle Accident Victims Sue Other Drivers in Columbia, SC?
Typically, motorcycle accident victims can sue the driver who hit them. In many cases, drivers will try to shift blame to the motorcyclist. Ultimately, courts and insurance companies need to look closely at the facts of the case and decide who was in the wrong to determine whether or not the motorcyclist’s case will be successful.
Drivers are responsible for car crashes when they do something negligent behind the wheel. For drivers who hit motorcycle riders, that could mean failing to keep an eye out for other vehicles on the road – motorcycles included. It could also mean violating traffic laws. Many motorcycle accidents happen because drivers drive drunk, fail to signal before changing lanes, or text while driving.
Courts can find that the driver was mostly at fault, but that the motorcycle rider also did something wrong. Things like lane splitting or speeding are often problems that put motorcyclists partly at fault for their own crashes. As long as fault is divided 50/50 or the victim is less at fault than the other driver, they can still recover damages in a lawsuit. However, the at-fault driver will only pay their fair share of damages. It is important to work with a lawyer to help protect yourself in court and avoid accusations that you contributed to your own accident.
In single-bike crashes, the injured motorcycle rider might not have anyone they can sue. Instead, they might be able to file a claim with their motorcycle insurance. Injured motorcycle passengers may be able to sue the driver of their motorcycle, even in single-vehicle crashes.
Proving Fault in Columbia, SC
If someone hit you while you were riding, there are some specific things that you and your motorcycle accident lawyer will need to prove in court to win your case. Namely, you will need to prove that you have identified the right driver and that what happened meets the elements of a negligence lawsuit.
Identifying the At-Fault Driver
If the other driver stopped at the scene of the crash, then identifying them should be pretty simple. Drivers are required to turn over their driver’s license info and speak to the police after a car accident, and that rule extends to motorcycle accidents as well. So, if everything goes smoothly, you will be able to match the driver to the crash and identify them later in court.
If the accident involved heavy traffic, dark roads, a hit and run, or a driver who gave false information to the officers, catching the right driver could be harder. Our lawyers can research what happened and work with law enforcement in cases involving hit and runs or false information, but other cases do not pose as difficult of a challenge. We can, for example, work with accident reconstruction experts to identify the paint that might have come off during a crash and match the damage to the car that hit you, proving definitively which driver hit you if there is any question.
Even if you might not have seen the driver actually hit you – or if you were knocked unconscious during the crash – the evidence will speak for itself.
In some cases, identifying the right defendants means suing the driver’s employer or other parties as well. For example, commercial drivers like truckers and bus drivers typically have an employer that can be sued if the accident happened while the driver was working.
Elements of Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident Case
Motorcycle accident claims are based on a claim that the defendant committed negligence rather than a claim that they caused the accident recklessly or through intentional actions. This standard is simpler to prove as it requires less information about the defendant’s mental state. Instead, the elements of a negligence case involve showing that the defendant violated a legal duty, and that the breach of duty caused your injuries.
In practice, this usually means pointing to a traffic violation the driver committed to cause your crash. If someone hit you while driving under the influence, speeding, running a red light, or otherwise breaking the law, that violation should be sufficient to meet the elements of a negligence case.
We also need to prove that that violation was what caused the crash. This, in part, means matching the driver to the crash, as discussed above. It also means showing that the accident would not have happened without the driver’s interference. If you were driving along and your tire blew out, causing you to crash into a speeding car, that accident might be the tire manufacturer’s fault instead of the driver’s, and their speeding might have been irrelevant. Our attorneys can break down the facts of what happened and show the jury that the driver’s mistake was the core cause of your crash.
Injuries and Damages for Motorcycle Riders Injured in Columbia, SC
Motorcycle accidents often cause severe injuries to riders. Riders do not have the same protection as car and truck drivers because they do not have the vehicle around them. However, this does not automatically mean that riding a motorcycle is their fault. Instead, drivers who cause these accidents are still responsible for the injuries they cause – even if they are more severe.
Injuries in motorcycle accidents commonly include back and neck injuries. Some of these injuries are severe enough to cause paralysis or long-term negative effects. Further, head injuries (with or without helmets) can also cause long-term disabilities. Broken bones, amputation, and other severe injuries are also common, alongside abrasions (road rash) and other cuts and scrapes.
If these injuries require medical treatment, doctor’s appointments, rehabilitation, and other care, these costs could be claimed as damages. In addition to these damages, you could also claim compensation for lost wages related to the injuries.
Injuries themselves can also justify compensation because of the pain and suffering. Any time you face an injury, you can face physical pain, emotional distress, discomfort, and mental anguish. Especially when injuries involve amputation or severe scarring, the effects on your life can be immense. This can justify claims for high-dollar compensation for pain and suffering.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident in Columbia, SC
The following steps are an important part of what to do after a motorcycle crash and can mean the difference between getting your damages paid and having to take care of all the expenses on your own.
Seek Medical Attention
If you do not get medical care for your injuries, they might become worse. At the very least, the injuries will not heal as quickly as they could have with medical care, and you will be left with worse pain and suffering, and potentially worse scarring.
Getting your injuries treated is a vital part of your case and constitutes mitigation of damages. If you intentionally leave the injuries to get worse and raise the damages in your case, you can be blocked from claiming those damages.
Additionally, getting medical care helps you create records and evidence to prove your case. If you got medical care right away after a crash, there will be a record of the injuries on the same day as your crash, cutting against any doubt that your injuries might have come from a different source. Medical records also help prove the severity of your injuries as they will state exactly how bad the injuries were.
Get a Police Report
Police reports contain much of the same information you can collect at the scene of the accident, e.g., the names and contact information of everyone involved, the location and time of the crash, and the identifying information of the vehicles involved. However, it also contains other information that the insurance companies and courts might want to see.
In many cases, the officer who wrote the report did not actually see the accident take place – they will have arrived at the scene afterwards. This means that a lot of the statements about what happened will be based on what the driver, rider, and witnesses told them. However, other parts – such as observations the officer personally made – can be great evidence.
At the very least, having a police report can help our motorcycle accident lawyers build your case, even if we cannot use parts of the report as evidence in court. Especially if you were knocked unconscious or had to leave the scene in an ambulance, a police report might be the only evidence we have from the day of the crash, aside from your personal recollections about the accident. If you collected your own photos and took your own notes of what happened, that could be stronger than the police report – especially if the report backs up that evidence.
Contact Our Columbia, SC Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Getting help from a lawyer as soon as you can after your accident will be vital. We can help collect the evidence you have and organize things like medical records, police reports, photos, camera footage, and witness statements into court filings. We can also begin collecting additional evidence and getting your case together so that it can be filed on time. Any delays in calling a lawyer will ultimately delay your damages – and too much of a delay could mean missing the deadline to file your injury case (i.e., 3 years).
Evidence to Collect in a Columbia, SC Motorcycle Accident Cases
After an accident, you may be too injured to collect any evidence. If that is the case, then call 911 and take an ambulance to the hospital. If you need treatment, that should be your first concern.
If you are able to stay at the scene of the accident, there is some information you will need to collect. This info can help insurance companies and your Columbia motorcycle accident lawyer determine who was at fault. It can also help you prove your case.
The most important information to collect is the name and contact info of the driver who hit you. Without this, you will not know whom to sue. You should also collect contact info for all drivers and witnesses as well as insurance info for all drivers involved.
Also, seek evidence about what vehicles were involved. Write down the make, model, color, and license plate number of each car involved.
Any details you can record about the accident scene will also be helpful. Take note of where there were skid marks, where lights and signs are located, and what the weather conditions were like. Also take note of the location by noting the street signs, mile markers, or addresses nearby.
If anyone had a dashcam or helmet cam, make sure to get a copy of that footage. Likewise, nearby storefronts or houses might have had security cameras that caught the accident on film. This can also be excellent evidence.
Lastly, take photos of the accident scene and vehicle damage as well as any injuries. This can show the judge and jury what the accident scene looked like at the time of the accident.
Call Our Columbia, SC Motorcycle Accident Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in the Columbia area, contact Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers right away. Our Columbia, SC motorcycle accident lawyers are prepared to fight for you. Call us at (803) 471-4195.