South Carolina’s climate, coastline, and hundreds of miles of bike trails make for some of the best bicycle riding anywhere. If you’re injured by a negligent driver while you’re bicycling in South Carolina, a Columbia bicycle accident lawyer will fight for justice on your behalf.

In most bicycling accidents, the fault belongs to the car or truck driver, not the bicyclist. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bicycle riders sustained about 49,000 serious or catastrophic injuries (and suffered 846 fatalities) in the U.S. in 2019.

What steps should you take if you are riding a bicycle and a negligent car or truck driver injures you? Can you be compensated? Will you need a personal injury lawyer’s advice and services?

If you’ll keep reading this brief discussion of bicycle accidents in South Carolina, you’ll learn the answers to these questions, and you will also learn more about your rights as an injured victim of negligence in this state.

When a Bicycle Accident Happens

If a vehicle crashes into you and injures you while you are riding a bicycle, a South Carolina personal injury lawyer will provide the legal guidance you need – later – but there will be no attorney on the scene to advise you, so you will need to take the following measures.

Call for medical assistance. That’s the top, paramount priority. Summon the police as well. Then get the other vehicle’s description and license plate number. Exchange contact details with the driver and get as much information as possible about the driver’s insurance company and policy.

Take photos of your injuries, the damage to the vehicle and bicycle, and the general accident scene. If there are eyewitnesses, try to get their names and a way to contact them. Photos and eyewitness statements can be powerful evidence in support of your personal injury claim.

After a Bicycle Accident Happens

After a bike crash, and after you’ve received medical attention, if you’ve been injured, your next priority is arranging to meet with a Columbia bicycle accident attorney who can discuss your right to compensation and work to recover that compensation on your behalf.

It’s important to contact a personal injury attorney as quickly as possible after a bicycle accident. Your attorney should examine the evidence while it’s fresh and speak to any eyewitnesses before their memories fade.

In South Carolina, the injured victims of negligent drivers are entitled by law to compensation for their pending and projected medical expenses, their lost wages and projected future lost earnings capacity, their personal pain and suffering, and related losses and damages.

What If You Are Catastrophically Injured?

Without the protection offered by a passenger compartment, safety belts, and air bags, when a bicyclist is struck by a motor vehicle, the bicyclist almost always suffers the more severe injury. Bicycling injuries are often catastrophic, long-term, or permanently disabling injuries.

Any blow to the head – whether or not you use a bicycle helmet – could cause a brain injury. It’s imperative to seek medical attention immediately if you receive a blow to the head in a bicycle crash.

Without prompt detection, a brain injury can develop into a severe medical condition over the subsequent days and weeks. Bicyclists are also at risk for severe spinal cord injuries and limb injuries that may require amputation.

After a bicycle accident, whether or not you “feel” injured, let a medical professional examine you. It’s simply the smart thing to do. If your injury in a bicycle accident is latent or hard-to-detect, a medical exam will provide the documentation you need to file a personal injury claim.

When the Insurance Company Calls

You’ll probably be contacted by the vehicle driver’s insurance company in only two or three days after a bicycle accident, and that’s another reason why you need to retain an attorney’s services promptly. You’ll need to direct the insurance company’s inquiries to your attorney.

Don’t even speak to the negligent driver’s insurance company yourself. Answer no questions, make no statements, sign no documents, and accept no settlement offers. First settlement offers are almost always “low-ball” offers. Your attorney will try to negotiate a more generous settlement.

When you accept a settlement offer from an insurance company, it’s the end of the matter. You can’t take any further legal action or seek any additional compensation. Let your lawyer fight for the maximum available compensation amount and protect your rights as the victim of the driver’s negligence.

How Are Bicycle Injury Cases Resolved?

Most personal injury claims arising from bicycle accidents in South Carolina are resolved privately, through out-of-court negotiations, so most bicycle accident victims never even have to appear in court.

But if your personal injury claim is disputed, or if no acceptable settlement offer is forthcoming in the out-of-court negotiations, your attorney will evaluate your case to help you determine whether to take your claim to trial. If your case goes to court, your attorney will explain to a jury how you were injured and how seriously, and ask that jury to order the payment of your damages.

To prove negligence and recover compensation in South Carolina, an injured bicyclist and his or her Columbia personal injury attorney must prove that the negligent driver breached the “duty of care” that all motorists owe to others – and thus directly caused the accident and your injuries.

How Can Bicyclists Protect Themselves?

The best way to deal with a bicycle collision is to prevent it. The right precautions and proper safety gear are imperative. Every bicyclist needs to know and consistently obey these basic safety rules:

  1.  Adhere to the traffic laws just as if you were driving a truck or a car.
  2.  Wear a helmet every time you ride.
  3.  At least weekly, check your tire pressure and brakes.
  4.  Try to avoid riding after dark. Have plenty of lights and reflectors on your bike
  5.  Never drink alcohol or use any other intoxicants before bicycling.

Enrolling in a bicycle safety class is always a good idea. If you are a parent, enrolling your children in a bicycle safety class ensures that they will understand the rules and know what precautions to take.

When Should an Injured Bicyclist Speak to an Attorney?

In most circumstances, South Carolina gives the injured victims of negligence three years from the date of the injury to launch a legal action to recover damages. Sometimes, the time limit is even shorter. As mentioned previously, you should not wait three years – or even three weeks – to schedule a meeting with a Columbia bicycle accident lawyer. Even if three years has already passed, you should at least consult with a personal injury lawyer to see if any legal exceptions apply in your particular situation.

Take advantage of the personalized advice that you will receive at your first legal consultation, which is provided without cost or obligation. If you move forward with a personal injury claim, you’ll pay no attorney’s fee until and unless your attorney recovers damages on your behalf. If you recover, your attorney’s fee will be paid as a percentage of the recovery, then your case costs will be paid. If you don’t recover, you will not have to reimburse advanced case costs.

You must be careful when you’re bicycling in our beautiful state. If you are injured by a negligent driver, you have rights under South Carolina law, and if you can prove your personal injury claim with the help of a lawyer, you’ll recover the compensation you need and deserve.