Biking is great for the environment and for fitness, and more people than ever are choosing bikes over cars. Unfortunately, bicycle riders face many dangers on the road, especially in South Carolina, which is considered one of the most dangerous states for cyclists. We’ve seen tragedies in our own community; just last month, a cyclist died after colliding with a tractor-trailer in Greenville County. Here’s what to know about cycling accidents involving bicycles and cars.
Bicycle-car accidents in South Carolina
In South Carolina, a bicycle is considered a “vehicle” and must behave like one, obeying all traffic laws. In addition, bikes have special laws, and to complicate matters, bike laws vary not only from state to state but can vary by municipality. Cyclists may be allowed to bike on some sidewalks, bridges, and highways, but not others. Bike lanes may stop and start abruptly. All these things make it challenging for cars and bikes to safely share the road.
Nearly a third of injuries from bicycle accidents involve being hit by a car, and over 700 cyclists across the country died in accidents with motor vehicles in 2014 (the most recent year for which statistics are available). When accidents happen, the first step is to determine who was at fault.
Common causes of bicycle-car accidents
Accidents are often caused by driver error, cyclist error, or a combination of the two.
Examples of biker negligence include:
- Driving against the flow of traffic
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Changing lanes abruptly in front of a car
- Not using bike lanes correctly
- Riding where it’s not legal (for example, the interstate)
Examples of driver negligence include:
- Switching lanes improperly
- Making an illegal turn
- Turning on a red light without checking for bike traffic
- Turning across a bike lane without checking for bike traffic
- Reversing without checking for bike traffic
- Opening a car door without checking for bike traffic
- Driving too close to a cyclist on the road
Sometimes, the accident is not due to driver error or cyclist error, but to a faulty and dangerous bicycle. In those cases, there may be enough evidence to bring a lawsuit against the bicycle manufacturer or seller under products liability law.
Determining liability in bicycle-car accidents
Determining liability can be difficult, as it is in accidents involving two motor vehicles. It can come down to the cyclist’s word against the driver’s word. The law will look to see who violated traffic laws and behaved negligently in order to assign fault. The person at fault will likely be held responsible for damages, which can include medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for damage to property suffered by the victim.
If you’re in an accident that wasn’t your fault, try to take pictures of the damage and the surrounding area and to talk to witnesses who saw the accident so the police can get their statements on record.
Contact a bicycle accident attorney at the Carolina Law Group today
The personal injury attorneys at the Carolina Law Group have experience handling many types of accident cases including bicycle accidents. If you’ve been in an accident, speak with an attorney who understands bicycle laws in South Carolina and who knows the right questions to ask to protect your rights. Get in touch today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
The Carolina Law Group has four offices across South Carolina for your convenience: Greenville* (call 864.312.4444), West Greenville (call 864.312.4444), Greer* (call 864.757.5555), and Spartanburg* (call 864.312.4444). Call to schedule your consultation with a local personal injury attorney today.
910 E Washington St
Greenville, SC 29601
210 W Poinsett St
Greer, SC 29650
7612 Asheville Hwy
Spartanburg, SC 29303
West Greenville Office
6304 White Horse Rd. Suite B-6
Greenville, SC 29601