For many people, motorcycles are not just a mode of transportation. Instead, they are a passion and a way of life. Riders in Columbia and across South Carolina will tell you that the region’s roads provide some of the most scenic and thrilling rides in the country. However, they are also aware of the risks to their safety and health that come with motorcycle riding. Our accident lawyers at The Jeffcoat Firm have worked on hundreds of motorcycle accident cases.
Compared to cars and trucks, motorcycles are small, light and difficult to see on the road. If an inattentive, aggressive or intoxicated driver fails to see a biker or fails to drive with proper caution, the biker is usually the one who will suffer the most serious injuries in an accident. In fact, when it comes to crashes, bikers are 28 times more likely to be fatally injured than occupants of passenger vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Did you suffer severe injuries, or was your loved one killed in a motorcycle accident in the Columbia area? If the negligent actions of another driver caused your crash, you could be eligible for compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, damage to your motorcycle and more. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer at The Jeffcoat Firm can help you to pursue the money you need to rebuild your life and move on from the accident.
We represent motorcycle injury clients in Columbia and throughout South Carolina. We understand that you want to be treated fairly. You want your case to be handled and concluded quickly and efficiently. Ultimately, you want the compensation you deserve to cover your losses. We’re here to help. Contact us today to receive a free consultation.
How Our Motorcycle Accident Law Firm Can Help You
The Jeffcoat Firm begins by providing a free, no-obligation consultation that gives you the chance to tell us all about your motorcycle crash and its impact on your life. After the consultation, our firm can immediately commence an independent investigation of your accident.
We will work quickly to preserve, gather and study all forms of evidence in your case. Our firm can interview witnesses and also consult experts when necessary. The Jeffcoat Firm will also work closely with your physician to get a full understanding of your injuries. We believe that we need to get a true picture of the severity of your injuries and how they will affect your life in order to have a compelling story to present to the insurance company and, if necessary, to a jury.
After we have completed an investigation and collected all of the evidence, we will prepare a demand letter to be delivered to the negligent party. In most cases, their insurance company will handle the claim. Our firm can immediately begin negotiating a settlement. We will work towards a fair settlement that provides for all of the expenses you face because of your crash. If the insurer is unwilling to provide an appropriate amount, then our firm will be well-prepared to litigate your case and go to trial if that’s what it takes to fight for what you are due.
As we move forward, you will find that our attorneys are the kind that will look you in the eye, give you honest, frank advice, and be genuinely concerned about both your case and your well-being. We realize just how sensitive and difficult it can be for people to recover from a serious motorcycle accident. We want to make a difference for you.
You will pay no fees unless we recover compensation for you. Under a written contingency fee agreement, we will determine what our percentage fee will be for your case. That percent will be deducted from the total settlement amount and other related expenses, with the rest going to you once all bills are paid.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in South Carolina
The attorneys of The Jeffcoat Firm have seen how careless and reckless motor vehicle drivers frequently cause collisions with a motorcyclist on the roads in Columbia and elsewhere in South Carolina. Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in our area include:
- Following too closely
- Failing to check mirrors and blind spots
- Speeding and aggressive driving
- Misjudging distance before turning left in front of a motorcycle
- Failing to use turn signals
- Sharing a lane or passing too closely
- Driving while distracted
- Driving while impaired by alcohol, drugs or fatigue.
Not all factors are immediately evident. Some motorcycle crashes can require lengthy investigations in order to determine the cause. Many single-vehicle crashes, for example, stem from defective motorcycle parts. If any part of a motorcycle failed or was defective, then the manufacturer of that part could be liable for the victim’s injuries. If a mechanic negligently repaired a motorcycle, then that party could also be held responsible.
Proving Liability in Motorcycle Accident Cases
The Jeffcoat Firm will conduct an independent investigation of your Columbia motorcycle crash to determine the cause and to identify all potentially liable parties. Our firm will know how to hold those parties accountable.
Police reports can often be excellent sources in an investigation. In the report, an officer who observed the crash scene and the parties in person will make judgments about possible causes. For that reason, you should try to get a copy of the police report as soon as possible after a crash. However, the police report is not the final say.
Your attorney from The Jeffcoat Firm will examine all circumstances surrounding your accident. Photos of skid marks at the scene, for example, could be evidence of speeding. A lack of skid marks may indicate that a driver didn’t even see the motorcyclist because the driver was distracted.
An ever-increasing cause of collisions between vehicles and motorcycles is smartphone use. Talking, texting, using social media or surfing the web while driving present a serious threat to others on the road. Your lawyer could subpoena the phone records of the driver involved in a motorcycle accident to see if the driver was active on the device at the time of impact.
Witness statements can also be a good way to establish liability. Neutral third parties who have no financial interest in an accident carry credibility. Their observations about how an accident occurred can have an impact on insurance companies and juries.
The Jeffcoat Firm can also work with accident reconstruction professionals to demonstrate how the crash occurred and the events that led up to it. We also regularly consult with doctors and life-care planners to determine the nature and extent of our clients’ injuries.
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Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries in Columbia
South Carolina law requires all motorcycle operators and passengers who are under 21 years of age to wear helmets. A violation is punishable by a $100 fine or 30 days in jail. While helmets certainly help to reduce the chances of a person suffering a serious head injury, they cannot prevent all kinds of injuries.
Considering how much less protection a motorcyclist is afforded compared to the occupants of motor vehicles, people on motorcycles are frequently susceptible to life-changing injuries. Some of the most common kinds of injuries stemming from motorcycle accidents include:
- Muscle strains
- Burns (including road rash)
- Head and brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries (including paralysis)
- Internal organ injuries
- Neck injuries
- Loss of limbs
- Scarring and disfigurement.
The Jeffcoat Firm understands that these types of injuries frequently result in dramatic changes to the lives of entire families. Some situations will involve enormous personal sacrifices for everyone involved.
The most severe injuries are obviously those that prove to be fatal. The family members of a person killed in a motorcycle accident in South Carolina may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party.
What Can You Recover in a Motorcycle Accident Settlement?
Many motorcycle accident cases are ultimately resolved through settlements. Insurance companies will want to settle a case if they determine it is less costly to do so than going to trial. If a case goes to trial, and a victim proves the case by a preponderance of the evidence, the jury may award them compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are usually a combination of:
- Economic damages – These are tangible costs that can be calculated such as medical bills, lost income, and property damage.
- Non-economic damages – These damages are more subjective like loss of consortium, emotional distress or pain and suffering.
In some cases, a person could also be awarded punitive damages. To be awarded punitive damages, a person must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the harm was caused by a defendant’s willful, reckless or wanton conduct. Punitive damages are usually limited to cases in which the court wants to punish a defendant for, especially egregious misconduct. For instance, drunk driving accidents often lead to punitive damages.
South Carolina state law limits punitive damages to three times the amount in compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. However, this cap does not apply when a defendant:
- Acted under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the point that his or her judgment was substantially impaired; or
- Had an intent to harm and did, in fact, harm the plaintiff; or
- Pleaded guilty to or was convicted of a felony arising out of the same act or course of conduct that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
Our South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Are Here for You
If you suffered catastrophic injuries, or your loved one died in a motorcycle accident in Columbia or a surrounding community in South Carolina, get legal help right away. The Jeffcoat Firm is available to help motorcycle accident victims 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You don’t have to suffer alone. Contact The Jeffcoat Firm today to arrange your consultation.