South Carolina’s beautiful weather means that there are quite a lot of cyclists and pedestrians on the road. However, not everyone is prepared for the degree of care this requires, in order to drive safely. Bicycle accidents in South Carolina occur far more than in many other states, and one moment of inattention can mean life-changing injuries.
Bicycle Accident Statistics
The Palmetto Cycling Coalition is active statewide, with the aim of instituting a Safe Streets program designed to cut down on cycling injuries and fatalities. According to their statistics, South Carolina ranks 39th in the nation for commuters who walk or cycle to work, and accidents causing deaths and severe injuries of cyclists are common on the roadways.
There is a worrying trend of increased fatality rates for cyclists on South Carolina highways. In 2010, 14 cyclists were killed, versus 11 in 2009. The numbers have stayed similar, with 13 fatalities being reported in 2011 and 2012. This may sound like a low number, but the national average for cyclist fatalities is approximately half that in most years – as low as two per million people, while South Carolina’s has climbed as high as six per million.
Common Types of Accidents
Most cycling injury cases arise out of negligence law, meaning that you must prove that a driver failed to exercise their lawful duty of care toward you as a cyclist (generally, drivers owe pedestrians and cyclists a duty to exercise reasonable care to ensure their safety). However, there are certain fact patterns within negligence law that appear more often than others. Given that bicycles are so much smaller than automobiles, very often, drivers simply do not see them. The most common situations in which accidents occur include:
- A motorist does not notice a cyclist in front of them and fails to stop in time, rear-ending the cyclist.
- A cyclist strikes a door suddenly opened by a motorist in a parked car.
- A motorist makes a turn directly in front of a cyclist, not having seen them beforehand.
- A car pulls out of a driveway without checking behind them, and the cyclist may not have sufficient time to react.
These situations could all conceivably result in a jury finding that a motorist was negligent in causing the cyclist’s injuries. To hold someone liable under a negligence theory, it must be shown that they breached their duty of care. However, it also must be shown that their actions were the direct cause of any harm you suffered.
South Carolina also uses a system called modified comparative fault to assess who should bear the brunt of the blame for a serious accident. In essence, if a fact finder holds that the plaintiff is more at fault for the accident than the defendant, the plaintiff will not be awarded compensation. They may still be held at fault, but as long as their percentage does not outweigh the defendant’s, they will be compensated, but their percentage will be deducted from any award. For example, if a motorist hits a cyclist, and the cyclist is held to be 20% at fault, the cyclist would still prevail, and any award given would be reduced by 20%.
Contact A Bicycle Accident Attorney Today
If you have been in a bicycle accident, chances are you need an experienced attorney to help you handle the load of things to do. The North Charleston bicycle accident attorneys at Callihan & Syracuse are experienced and knowledgeable in this type of law, and we will work hard to give you the best possible odds to receive compensation. Contact us for a free consultation.