Bicycle Accident Attorney in Columbia
According to a 2018 study of the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) data, from 2009 to 2017, South Carolina saw 4570 reported bicycle accidents, resulting in 4147 injuries and 146 deaths. A
Bicyclists are at major risk on Columbia roads. Barely any of the local streets and highways contain clearly marked bicycle lanes. Columbia roads are congested every year with students and football fans who are not familiar with our traffic customs and laws regarding cyclists. Unfortunately, a helmet is a cyclist’s only real line of defense against serious injury in an accident.
If someone else has caused a Columbia bike accident by their inconsiderate or negligent actions, and your life has been affected by injury or the tragic death of a loved one, contact the experienced Columbia bicycle accident lawyers at Strom Law Firm to work diligently towards securing compensation from the people who caused the accident.
Strom Law Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Victims of Columbia area bicycle crashes do not need to look hard to stumble upon a lawyer willing to represent them and attempt to recover compensation. However, the harrowing pain and harm caused by bicycle accidents require more than your run-of-the-mill lawyer. You need a Columbia Personal injury Accident Lawyer
At Strom Law Firm, we understand that our clients are coming to our offices during their most vulnerable and painful moments. Our team awaits each client with an open door, and we remain ready to fight for justice, accountability, and compensation on behalf of those harmed by another.
What Causes Cycling Accidents?
Under South Carolina law, a bicyclist is treated the same as a driver of any vehicle. The SC Bike Law puts it as follows:
“A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway must be granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special provisions in this article and except as to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application.”
Likewise, motorists have an obligation to treat bicyclists as equal counterparts on the roads.
Regrettably, motorists often treat road cyclists as afterthoughts on Columbia roads, which leads to catastrophic accidents. The most common causes of these accidents include:
- Aggressive drivers. Rushed drivers tend to become irritated with cyclists on the road. They attempt to speed past bicycles, holler at bicyclists, and tailgate. This behavior risks causing cyclists to lose their balance, which could cause a terrible accident. Cyclists deserve no less respect and consideration than any other occupant of the road.
- Failure to yield a right-of-way. This is a common circumstance of cycling collisions, which involves a vehicle altering their route or shifting lanes into a bicyclist’s path. The driver often does not register that the cyclist is in their path even while perfectly visible in a driver’s rearview mirror. This human flaw is known as inattentional blindness and is a fairly common occurrence. Drivers should always be on alert for all types of shapes and objects while driving.
- “Dooring.” Anybody who rides bikes on a parallel parking Columbia street probably realizes the threat of being “doored.” This action occurs when a driver or passenger opens their car door directly in the path of a riding bicyclist. Cyclists can suffer catastrophic injuries from this seemingly minor occurrence. An interesting technique known as the Dutch reach can prevent such accidents from occurring.
- Malfunctioning equipment. Some bicycle equipment can have misleading claims that would lead to an accident or the equipment could just be faulty and require a bicycle recall before someone is injured.
- Impairment. This may go without saying, but impaired drivers, those who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, are far more likely to get in any car accident, including an accident with a bicyclist.
- Poor visibility. Cyclists should take steps to increase their visibility. Flashing lights and reflectors, both on your bike and your body, should help accomplish this goal.
Common Cycling Injuries
A cyclist involved in a Columbia bicycle accident could suffer from a multitude of injuries. Unfortunately, in any bicycle accident, whether bike versus car or bike versus bike, a cyclist is fortunate to escape with her life. Severe, life-changing injuries are all too common in Columbia bicycle crashes, including:
- Severe road rash. Road rash occurs when the momentum of the cyclist causes friction between the cyclist’s skin and the road’s asphalt or concrete. Such an injury causes significant burn-like wounds to the body, and can ultimately lead to infection and disfiguration. Road rash causes cuts and scrapes, bruises, and even burns, which can take weeks, months, or years to heal.
- Spinal cord damage. A spinal cord injury can change a cyclist’s life forever. Such an injury can result in numbness, weakness, or even permanent paralysis. These injuries are often caused by a cyclist being thrown over their handlebars in a rash, colliding with the road, trees, or vehicles. A cyclist who suffers such an injury will likely take on tremendous expenses while seeking medical care.
- Breaks, fractures, and tears. Often the best-case scenario for a bicyclist in an accident is a series of breaks, tears, and other orthopedic injuries. As anybody knows who has suffered such an injury, the medical bills for treating this type of harm can be incredibly high. Many times surgery is necessary to fix the issues.
- Traumatic brain injury. While South Carolina has no bicycle helmet requirement by law, helmets exponentially lessen the risk of losing one’s life or suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a bike accident and should be worn whenever operating a bicycle on the roads. A TBI can occur when the brain suffers damage from a collision or shock to the head. A TBI can cause a victim to suffer long-term cognitive, physical, and mental impairments. Often, a TBI can cause temporary or permanent unconsciousness. A concussion is a form of TBI, and can cause a cyclist to suffer life-long headaches, confusion, and tiredness well into the future.
No matter the extent of harm a bicycle crash causes you or a loved one, the Columbia bicycle accident lawyers at Strom Law Firm have the passion, experience, and most importantly the resources to assist you in recovering the compensation owed to you.
Columbia Bicycle Accident FAQs
Bicycling is a popular activity for transportation, exercise, and pleasure. South Carolina is exceptionally bicycle-friendly, with its warm weather and beautiful scenery.
In Columbia, bicyclists can explore approximately 31 miles of trails, including the Sumter Cypress Trail or the Three Rivers Greenway. The University of South Carolina is nationally ranked as a “Bicycle Friendly University” due to its free bike repair shop and bicycle recycling program.
Unfortunately, in South Carolina, like anywhere, bicyclists face risks. If a car collides with a bicyclist, the force of the impact may cause serious injuries to the bicyclist. If a bicycle accident injured you, the dedicated attorneys of Strom Law Firm, LLC have helped bicyclists recover the compensation they deserve after being injured by someone else’s negligence.
How many bicycle accidents take place here?
In recent years, the number of bicyclists in the U.S. increased to an estimated 47.5 million. This increase in bicyclists has been accompanied by an increase in the number of bike accident injuries across the country and Columbia. According to the South Carolina Traffic Collision Fact Book, one bicyclist died every 16.6 days in the state due to injuries sustained in a bike accident.
If you sustained an injury in a Columbia bike accident, consult an experienced attorney to determine your eligibility to seek compensation. Below, we provide answers to some of the questions that we most commonly hear from our clients. Read on for more information.
What bicycle laws apply in Columbia?
As vulnerable road users, you need to know your rights when bicycling in Columbia. Our bicyclists generally have the same rights and same duties as drivers of motor vehicles.
In Columbia, bicyclists may not:
- Bike while clinging to motor vehicles
- Carry more individuals than the number for which the bike’s design permits
- Carry any items that may prevent the biker from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars
While helmets are proven to help prevent injuries in bike accidents, helmet laws vary throughout the country.
- South Carolina does not have a state-wide requirement for helmet use; however, cyclists should understand that properly fitted helmets reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries for bicyclists of all ages by 66 to 88 percent.
- In South Carolina, the law doesn’t permit the state to charge you with DUI for simply operating a bicycle under the influence, unlike in many other states. However, public intoxication is a misdemeanor offense.
Where to ride:
- A bicyclist may, but is not required, to ride on the shoulder of the roadway.
- Bicyclists must ride with traffic flow as closely as reasonably possible to the right side of the road.
- Riding on the sidewalk is permitted unless forbidden by local ordinance. Bicyclists riding on a sidewalk must yield the right of way to pedestrians.
- Bicyclists must use bike lanes if available.
- If there is only an adjacent recreational bicycle path available instead of a bicycle lane, bicyclists may ride on the roadway.
- Bicyclists may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
Traffic control signs and devices:
- Bicyclists are required to obey all traffic control signs, lights, and signals.
- Cyclists must signal when turning or stopping.
- When on a roadway, a bicyclist must use due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
- South Carolina law states: “A bicycle when in use at nighttime must be equipped with a lamp on the front which must emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear that must be visible from all distances from fifty feet to three hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of the lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.”
- A bicycle must have properly operating brakes.
- In South Carolina, electric-assist bikes (e-bikes) are considered vehicles and thus are subject to the rules of the road that apply to vehicles.
- A motor with a power output of fewer than 750 watts exempts the e-bike requirements that apply to mopeds, such as licensing and registration.
In addition to the safety requirements for bicyclists, South Carolina has laws to ensure that motor vehicle drivers operate safely around bicycles. For instance, motor vehicle drivers must drive at a safe distance from bicyclists and maintain a safe operating distance when passing a bicyclist. If there is a bicycle lane adjacent to the roadway, motor vehicles may not block the bicycle lane and must yield to a bicyclist before entering or crossing the lane. It is against the law to yell at or harass a person on a bicycle or throw anything in the bicyclist’s direction. Violations may result in fines or imprisonment.
What are the common causes of Columbia bicycle accidents?
For everyone’s safety, it is vital to understand the most common causes of bicycle accidents. In many cases, the position of the bicyclist relative to the motor vehicle is a key factor.
Common causes of accidents include:
- Dooring accidents. These are common occurrences on busy streets. When the street is congested, the bicyclist may have to ride closer to parked cars. Someone planning to exit the car may fail to check that no bicycle or other vehicle is coming, only to open the car door and have the bicyclist run into it.
- Passing accidents. These frequently happen when the passing car does not allow enough room for the bicyclist.
- Rear-ending. A rear-end collision happens when a car or a bicycle is following too closely or is not paying attention and cannot stop. These accidents often happen at stop signs or on slippery roads. Studies show that 40 percent of bike crashes involve a car rear-ending the bicyclist.
- Crossing in front. These accidents happen at intersections, in driveways, and in alleys when a vehicle crosses into the bicyclist’s path. The driver of the car may not be paying attention or may fail to see the bicyclist.
- Right turns. Many drivers fail to check their mirrors and their blind spots before making a right turn. If a bicyclist travels on the right side of the car, the car may hit the bicyclist.
What other factors place Columbia cyclists at risk?
Driving responsibly and paying close attention at all times can prevent many accidents. The following factors are a risk for everyone on the road:
- Distracted driving means driving while performing another activity that takes your focus away from driving. It has become a serious problem because people think that they can multitask while driving. Every day, about eight people in the United States die in crashes involving a distracted driver.
- People think of speeding as driving above the posted speed limit, but it also refers to driving too fast for road conditions. A speeding driver may react slowly to a hazard or fail to stop in time to prevent a crash.
- Nobody likes to ride in bad weather, but bicyclists on the road in fog, snow, sleet, heavy rain, and blinding sun glare are often hard to see.
- Everyone knows that impaired driving can lead to catastrophic injuries and death. In fact, drugs and alcohol cause, on average, one out of three motor vehicle-related fatalities. Bicyclists are especially vulnerable because of their lack of protection.
What injuries frequently occur in Columbia bicycle accidents?
When there is a crash between a bicycle and a motor vehicle, naturally, the bicyclist sustains the most damage. Accidents often result in fatalities, especially when the car is going fast or the cyclist is not wearing a helmet. Even in non-fatal accidents, the cyclist may sustain catastrophic injuries and long-term disabilities.
Injuries sustained in serious collisions include:
- Head and brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries are serious and often permanent.
- Internal bleeding and organ damage.
- Neck and back injuries. These injuries include everything from whiplash to spinal cord damage. Spinal injuries may lead to partial or total paralysis.
- Soft tissue injuries. This term refers to injuries to the soft tissues in the body, rather than the harder bones. Stretched or torn muscles, tendons, and ligaments are common soft tissue injuries.
- Broken bones
- Facial lacerations
- Dental injuries
- Scarring and disfigurement
What are the basics of Columbia bicycle accident lawsuits?
The rules of the road govern both bicyclists and motorists, and everyone must always use care when traveling. Negligence is the basis for many kinds of lawsuits, including Columbia bicycle accident cases. Basically, negligence refers to when a person has a responsibility toward another person and fails to act responsibly.
A driver’s failure to act responsibly can take many forms, such as speeding, running a stop sign, or even driving under the influenceYou have to prove four things in a case to establish negligence. You must prove that a legal duty existed, in other words that the person who hit you had a legal responsibility toward you, that the defendant violated this duty, that the plaintiff suffered an injury, and that the defendant’s breach caused the injury.
What compensation is available for Columbia bike accidents?
If you have sustained injuries in a bicycle accident, depending upon the facts and circumstances, you may be able to recover both economic and non-economic compensation. Economic damages are primarily a question of financial losses, such as medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, are harder to value but no less important. After a catastrophic injury, some of the greatest losses are often non-economic, because such injuries change the way that victims must live their lives.
Potential damages resulting from a bicycle traffic accident include the following:
- The cost of all medical bills and expenses related to the accident, such as doctor and hospital bills, rehabilitation, or other long-term medical costs
- Compensation for lost wages from time missed from work for attending medical appointments (and during the recovery period)
- Past, present, and future pain, suffering, and inconvenience
- Past, present, and future mental anguish and emotional distress
- Loss of earning capacity in cases of permanent physical or mental impairment
- Compensation for permanent injuries and damages
- Payment of all causally related bills for psychological or psychiatric treatment
- Loss of consortium, companionship, or spousal support
- Compensation for future medical treatment or procedures (including future surgeries and hospital stays)
- Wrongful death
What can drivers do to avoid crashing into me?
Nobody ever expects or wants an accident to happen. When biking, always stay alert for cars approaching from the rear or side. Nationwide, 58 percent of bicyclist fatalities take place at non-intersections, and 45 percent occur in dark conditions, most often between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Approximately 75 percent of fatal accidents occur in urban areas. Poorly maintained roads are also a risk for bicyclists.
What should I do after a Columbia bicycle crash?
If you are injured in a bike accident, you should:
- Move out of danger and seek medical care right away. It is important to obtain treatment promptly because some injuries do not show up until days or even weeks after the accident. Also, you may need medical records later to establish your injuries.
- Especially if you are riding alone, carry a cell phone, personal identification, and emergency contact information.
- Call the police. Even if the accident is minor, an official police report may help identify witnesses as well as provide an initial analysis of how the accident occurred. .
- Leave your bike in its damaged state and where it fell, if possible. It is best if the police see the accident scene undisturbed.
- Get the driver’s name and his or her insurance information, along with the names of any passengers. Obtain the contact information of any witnesses.
- Take photos of injuries, your bicycle, and the accident scene.
- Make no statement to insurance representatives or any other people until you talk to a lawyer.
How can a Columbia bicycle attorney help me?
As bicycle use becomes more popular, you need to stay safe on the roads. If you or a loved one was involved in a bicycle accident, you need to speak with an experienced, caring Columbia bicycle accident attorney. At Strom Law Firm, LLC, our legal team has the experience and the resources to gather evidence and obtain the best possible result for your case. South Carolina has strict time limits for bike accident cases, so contact our Columbia bicycle accident lawyers without delay.
For more information or to schedule a free consultation, contact Strom Law Firm, LLC, today.
Columbia Cycling Accident Lawyers at Strom Law Firm
Strom Law Firm is experienced in representing victims of bicycle accidents and other traffic accidents. Our Columbia bicycle accident lawyers are ready to meet with you in person at your convenience. You can also contact us online or by phone at (803)252-4800 to schedule a time to talk with a member of our team.
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