Who’s at Fault if I Was Injured as a Passenger on a Motorcycle in South Carolina?

Columbia SC Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

In an auto accident, the drivers and vehicle operators who caused the crash are usually responsible for an accident. However, motorcycle crashes are often complex, and victims could be left with questions about whom they should sue and who should be held responsible for their crash.

In general, whichever driver legally “caused” the crash is responsible. If you were injured as a passenger on a motorcycle, that would usually mean that either the driver of your motorcycle or the driver who hit them would be liable. In some rare instances, you could be deemed to have contributed to your injuries or to causing the crash, which can complicate the case and potentially reduce your damages.

For help with a motorcycle injury case, call the Columbia motorcycle accident attorneys at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers today at (803) 451-4000 for a free case review.

Potential At-Fault Parties in a South Carolina Motorcycle Crash

As mentioned, most motorcycle accidents are caused by one of the drivers. Whether that’s the driver of the bike you were riding on or the driver of another car that hit you, the blame usually does not fall on the passenger. However, there are some situations where you could be considered partially at fault. The following is a breakdown of the potential at-fault parties and what factors can make the courts and insurance companies consider them responsible for a crash.

The Motorcycle Driver

In many single-vehicle crashes, the driver of the motorcycle is at fault. In these cases, the rider typically loses control or violates traffic laws, resulting in a crash. Traffic laws and safe-driving requirements are in place to help protect riders and their passengers, so a violation of these duties could put a rider at fault for their motorcycle passenger’s injuries.

Motorcycle drivers could also be at fault in collisions with other vehicles. When two vehicles collide, the driver who was breaking the law or doing something unsafe is usually considered at fault. That typically means they will be responsible for anyone’s injuries resulting from the crash, whether that be a driver in another vehicle or a passenger in either vehicle.

Motorcycle drivers could be at fault for a crash if they were speeding, driving under the influence, texting and driving, or violating other traffic laws. Speeding can be especially dangerous with motorcycles and surprise drivers in other cars. Additionally, lane-splitting (driving between cars by driving on the line between lanes) is illegal in South Carolina. If the driver of the motorcycle you were riding caused a crash while lane-splitting or otherwise violating the law, call a South Carolina motorcycle lawyer right away for help holding them responsible for your injuries.

These cases are often difficult because the person driving you around was likely a friend or family member. In many cases, their insurance ultimately pays the damages, allowing you to still get the damages you need without ruining relationships.

Other Drivers

If you and the rider of your motorcycle were both the victim of another driver’s negligence, that driver should be held responsible for the crash. When drivers fail to look out for motorcycles or do not treat them as equal vehicles, they can often cause crashes that seriously injure motorcycle riders and passengers.

Crashes caused by inattention, drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding, other traffic violations, or unsafe driving habits can lead to substantial damages and injury lawsuits. For help proving another driver was responsible and getting the damages you deserve, you should always work with a South Carolina personal injury attorney.

In cases involving multiple other vehicles, each driver might share liability. Additionally, if your own driver on the motorcycle shared fault, you can hold them and other drivers partially responsible. Each driver will pay their fair share of damages based on the percentage of fault the court assigns them.

The Motorcycle Passenger

Riding as a motorcycle passenger is not as passive as riding as a passenger in a car, truck, or SUV. Motorcycle passengers often lean on the driver. There is also an expectation that they will be in close contact with the driver, potentially holding onto the driver throughout the ride. Because of this, motorcycle passengers are often faced with expectations they need to uphold while riding on a motorcycle.

If a motorcycle rider fails to lean with the rider properly, it could affect the driver’s ability to steer and avoid accidents. Especially in emergencies, failing to lean properly could put you partially at fault for a crash. Additionally, squeezing the driver too tight or otherwise impeding their ability to drive could be dangerous and lead to partial fault. Neither of these issues usually apply to riders in sidecars, and any attorney would be hard-pressed to figure out ways to blame those passengers for a crash.

In some cases, the court could find that you maybe did not contribute to causing the accident, but something you did (or didn’t do) made your injuries worse. Everyone under 21 is required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle under S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-3660. This means that failing to wear a helmet (if you were under 21 at the time) could be considered to have contributed to your injuries. Additionally, failing to bail off the bike might have made your situation worse. They could potentially use that as evidence that you made your injuries worse by failing to bail when an ordinary motorcycle passenger would have otherwise bailed.

Even if you are deemed to be partially liable, you are not barred from recovery unless you are more than 50% liable, according to S. C. Code Ann. § 15-1-300. However, your damages might be reduced. Your Columbia personal injury lawyer can also work to avoid findings of partial fault or contributory negligence and get your full damages paid by the truly at-fault parties.

Call Our South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

For a free case review with our South Carolina motorcycle accident attorneys, call Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers today at (803) 451-4000.

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