What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
Getting injured in a bicycle accident can be an emotional experience. In fact, the moments following the incident can feel completely overwhelming. Nonetheless, what you do—or fail to do—will have a tremendous impact on the outcome of your personal injury case. When involved in a bicycle accident, here are the steps you should take:
- Remain calm and leave your bicycle carefully.
- Call 911 to get emergency medical attention for your injuries.
- Report the accident to the police department or local law enforcement office.
- Gather relevant information, such as the other driver's name, phone number, license details, address, and insurance information.
- Document necessary evidence, such as police reports, accident scene photos, and witness statements.
- Document all of your hospital expenses, medical treatments, and doctor's appointments.
- Take notes of your personal account of the accident and how it has affected your daily life.
- Notify your insurance carrier about the incident
- Hire an experienced attorney to help negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company or file a personal injury claim.
If you delay taking action after a bike accident, you may lose important documents or forget crucial details concerning the incident. You need to retain a skilled personal injury attorney immediately to help protect your best interests and enlighten you about laws affecting bicycle riders in the state.
South Carolina Laws Affecting Bicycle Riders
The State of South Carolina has laws pertaining specifically to bicycle riders:
- Every bicycle must be equipped with a functioning brake.
- Bicycles must be equipped with a front white light visible from 500 feet away to enable night riding.
- Bicycles must have a red rear reflector or red light visible from 300 feet away to enable night riding.
- Bicyclists must ride as far to the right of the roadway as possible.
- Where present, cyclists must use bike lanes.
- When riding on sidewalks, cyclists must yield the right of way to pedestrians.
- Bicyclists must obey all traffic signs and signals, including stop signs and traffic lights.
- Bicyclists must exercise due care when overtaking any vehicle.
- All bicycle riders under eighteen years of age must wear a helmet.
A personal injury lawyer can enlighten you on how these laws affect your case and help you determine how best to proceed with your claim.
Filing a Claim
South Carolina is an “at-fault” insurance state. This means that the person responsible for the bicycle accident (at-fault party) will be held financially liable for medical costs, property damages, and other accident-related losses suffered by the accident victims. To recover damages, you can do the following:
- File an injury claim with your own insurer
- File a third-party claim directly with the insurance company of the at-fault party
- File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party in civil court
Modified Comparative Fault Rule
Additionally, South Carolina operates using the "modified comparative fault" rule, with a 51% bar. According to the system, an accident victim may only recover damage if they were 50% or less responsible for the accident or their injuries. Also, the amount that may be recovered will be reduced by their fault degree.
For instance, if the jury awarded $40,000 in total compensation against the negligent party, and it was found that you were 20% at fault for the bicycle accident, your compensation will be reduced by $8,000. You will only get $32,000. Under South Carolina's modified comparative fault principle, you will be barred from seeking compensation if you were more than 50% responsible for your injuries or accident.
Statute of Limitations
According to South Carolina Code Section 15-3-530, an action to recover damages for any injury shall be commenced within three years from the date of the injury. This means that you must file your personal injury claim within three years from the date the bicycle accident occurred.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
Being involved in a bicycle accident can be devastating. If you're unlucky, such an accident can result in severe injuries which may affect you financially, physically, and mentally. Regardless, you don't have to suffer the financial liability and challenges all by yourself. It is important that you act quickly and hire a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to advocate for your rights and help pursue the fair financial compensation that you deserve.
At David F. Stoddard Law Firm, our attorney has devoted his career to providing outstanding legal services and representing clients diligently in their bicycle accident claims. Our team will fight vigorously to protect your best interests and help recover the maximum amount of compensation possible.