A motorcycle is a convenient vehicle to have, especially in high-traffic areas and cities. However, motorcyclists are often vulnerable to accidents and must take extra care to make sure they’re safe.
The South Carolina Traffic Collision Fact Book states that 188 motorcyclists were involved in traffic accidents in 2020. Thirty-four motorcyclists had suspected serious injuries and ten suffered fatalities.
Causes of motorcycle accidents often include poor road conditions, distracted driving, and driving under the influence.
Once one overcomes the initial shock of a motorcycle accident, it’s vital to seek legal assistance.
Filing a motorcycle accident claim is easier with a Charleston motorcycle accident lawyer on your side. Some personal injury attorneys and law firms offer free consultations or free case reviews.
Recoverable Damages in Motorcycle Accident Case
A motorcycle accident, especially when serious, could be a traumatic experience. It could severely affect one’s health, livelihood, and personal possessions.
It costs a lot to recover from a motor vehicle accident. Should you file a personal injury lawsuit, you may be entitled to recover damages according to your motorcycle accident case.
Under South Carolina law, the types of damages you could recover are economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Medical Expenses for Treatment and Therapy
Medical bills are a heavy burden for most Americans. A hospital visit could devastate many, which could plunge them further into debt.
A 2021 study estimates that 17.8 percent of Americans had medical debt as of June 2020. These figures did not include further debt that may have been acquired since the onset of the pandemic. Debt was highest among low-income individuals as well.
Some motorists are lucky and get away with superficial scrapes and road rash. However, this isn’t always the case.
Motorcycle accidents could cause head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries, which are complex and expensive to treat.
You may be entitled to recover the total cost of your medical care and avoid debt. Injured motorcyclists could claim compensation for one or more of the following costs and expenses:
- Doctor’s consultations
- Ambulance bills
- Physical or emotional therapy
- Prescription drugs
- Travel costs for medical appointments
The plaintiff must provide evidence of these medical expenses to recover medical damages. Ensure you keep all bills, receipts, and other relevant paperwork throughout your treatment.
Aside from past medical expenses, you may also be able to claim damages for future medical costs. This is especially useful if you have ongoing treatment after filing the lawsuit.
Reclaim Lost Wages and Earning Capacity
Aside from being a physical ordeal, recovering from catastrophic injuries could also affect your financial well-being.
South Carolina motorcycle accidents can severely impact one’s capacity for work. Severe injuries and hospitalization could cause you to miss work for an extended period of time.
If you’re an employee, suffering and recovering from motorcycle accident injuries could result in lost wages. If you operate a business, it might impact daily operations and affect your earnings.
If another driver has caused your injuries, you’re entitled to compensation. South Carolina law covers loss of wages, among other economic and non-economic damages.
You could be entitled to recover any wages you may have lost during the recovery process. These lost wages could include daily pay, raises, bonuses, income, or other forms of compensation.
Aside from lost wages, you may also receive compensation for lost earning capacity. You can receive compensation for the difference in your previous and current earning potential.
This usually occurs if your injuries cause partial or total disability affecting your ability to work. You may also receive compensation for these differences if you end up with a lower-paying job after the accident.
Compensation for Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering are not as easily calculable as economic losses. However, they are still legitimate injuries for which motorcycle accident victims could receive compensation. This type of compensation often applies to various personal injury cases.
Pain and suffering are non-economic injuries that severely affect a person’s quality of life.
The term describes the biker’s physical and emotional stress during and after the accident and includes the person’s physical discomfort and emotional responses to the incident.
Unlike other types of injuries, putting a price tag on pain and suffering can be challenging. There is no standard formula for the compensation one may receive.
The amount of compensation you’ll receive for your pain and suffering is primarily left to the jury. You must prove the severity of your pain and suffering. A Charleston personal injury lawyer could help you create a compelling case for the pain and suffering you experienced.
Courts and juries usually consider the following factors when calculating compensation for pain and suffering:
- Types of injuries sustained
- Amount of pain felt
- Prescribed medication and treatment
- Length of the recovery stage
- Permanence of injuries
- Emotional or psychological trauma
- Strength of evidence
- Likeability of the plaintiff
Lawyers and insurance companies also assign a number (1-5) to damages for pain and suffering. They multiply the total economic damages by this number and then add the amount for lost wages.
This figure helps the court calculate the total case value while considering other factors.
Repair or Replacement of Your Motorbike and Other Property Damages
Motorcycle crashes can be devastating. Aside from causing severe physical injuries and emotional distress, they can also damage your motorbike and other personal valuables.
Your claims may include the cost of repairs for any damaged possessions, including that of your motorbike. The compensation may also include any depreciation in market value should any of your possessions suffer permanent damage.
Aside from repairs, you may also be entitled to replacement costs for your motorbike and other possessions. These costs include any custom work on your motorbike, especially if the necessary repairs cost more than the replacement.
Make sure you keep copies of all quotes, bills, and receipts for any valuables that need repair or replacement.
Ideally, you start collecting these copies even before you’re involved in an accident, especially if you enjoy custom work or vehicle upgrades. These documents will serve as evidence and help build your personal injury case.
Wrongful Death of a Loved One
Unfortunately, severe motorcycle collisions could lead to death. No monetary amount could reverse the death of a loved one. However, proper compensation could make coping with the burdens of recovery easier.
The state has statutes that allow the survivors of a deceased person to file wrongful death claims. They could sue if the death occurred due to another party’s intentional or accidental act.
South Carolina law defines wrongful death as a death caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another party. This action allows one to recover compensation had he or she not died from the incident.
Aside from negligence-based incidents, such as motorcycle accidents, wrongful death could also apply to malpractice claims and intentional acts.
The deceased’s surviving family or named heirs could demand compensation for the following types of losses and expenses:
- Damages the person would have been entitled to if they were alive
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of companionship and emotional support
What Proof To Present To Claim Damages
Evidence is necessary to help you build a strong case. A Charleston motorcycle accident attorney could help you with this process. Good evidence can help you receive the compensation or fair settlement you need and deserve.
Below are the types of evidence you could collect to help prove your personal injury claim:
Photos and Videos
Cameras are handy tools to document every stage of your recovery process. Most phones already have them built-in, so make sure you use them.
Take photos and videos of the wreck and your injuries on the day of the collision. Moreover, take pictures and videos of your injuries throughout the recovery process.
Your medical records are an authoritative source that attests to the severity of your injuries. They contain your doctors’ assessments, diagnoses, prescriptions, and treatment plans.
Make sure you collect all records available from each facility you visit. These records paint a complete picture of what you have gone through.
Bills and Receipts
Keep all bills, invoices, and receipts related to your accident. These items provide an accurate number of the expenses you’ve had to bear to physically and emotionally recover from your injuries.
Evidence under this category could include bills and receipts for the following costs and expenses:
- Medical treatment
- Vehicle and property repairs or replacements
- Travel expenses
- Disability accommodations
- Child care expenses, etc.
If you can, make sure to have physical and digital backups of these documents so that nothing is lost.
Police reports after your accident could provide valuable proof for your claim. These documents often detail the following:
- Crash details and the people/vehicles involved
- Diagram of the accident site
- Testimonials from drivers/passengers/witnesses
- Officer’s findings and conclusions
Financial documents, such as previous pay stubs or income tax returns, prove your earning capacity before the accident. These documents could be helpful when seeking compensation for lost wages, as they help the court calculate fair compensation if your injuries affect your capacity to work.
If you don’t keep a journal, starting one after your motorcycle accident could be helpful. Aside from documenting physical injuries, it could also provide context for claims related to non-economic injuries.
You could detail the following in your journal:
- Psychological trauma
- Impact on your household
- Pain and suffering, etc.
Make sure to consult your lawyer regarding your journal to ensure it can help your case.
If anyone witnessed your accident, take down their names and contact information. Their statements could help you build a case, especially if you were not at fault.
You could also call expert witnesses to provide statements about your medical condition, financial capacity, property valuation, etc.
Find the Right Charleston Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Case
Though motorcycle accidents are common in South Carolina, nobody wants to be involved in one.
However, if you’re involved in a motorcycle accident, it’s critical to immediately seek legal help. The right lawyer can help you receive the compensation you need and deserve.
The Personal Injury Center has tons of resources to help personal injury and medical malpractice victims. We can also refer you to appropriate legal counsel upon your request.
FAQs on Motorcycle Accident Lawyers in Charleston
The deceased person's personal representative can apply for a wrongful death suit. This representative is usually named in the deceased person's will. If the deceased person does not have a will, the court usually appoints a spouse or relative.
South Carolina helmet laws require all motorcycle riders under 21 to wear helmets. If you are over 21, not wearing a motorcycle helmet does not stop you from making a claim.
However, the defendant's legal team might use this as an argument against you. After all, helmets could reduce the severity of injuries.
No, not without getting legal advice from a personal injury lawyer. It is best to thoroughly investigate the crash before providing your statement or entering into any insurance negotiations. Some lawyers and firms offer free case evaluations to help you out.