It’s been more than a decade since Greenville officials adopted a bicycle-friendly initiative dubbed Bikeville. The goal of the initiative is to create a city that encourages cycling as an alternate means of transportation. Opting to ride a bike is healthier for the commuter and the environment — not to mention more cost-effective in the long run. Unlike your car, your bicycle doesn’t require gas or insurance.
Our Greenville bicycle accident attorney knows that even protected bike lanes won’t prevent all injuries from happening. A line painted on the road provides no barrier between cyclist and driver. When a vehicle collides with a bicycle, the driver may assume that since they have more right-of-way than the cyclist, they are automatically in the clear — but Auger & Auger knows that every victim has rights to representation and a chance to be heard.
There are several factors contributing to bicycle accidents, including uneven road surfaces, opening vehicle doors into a cyclist, and improper crossings. One of the most dangerous maneuvers for a vehicle to make is a left turn in front of a bicyclist. Between 2009 and 2017, 26% of all crashes involving bikes and vehicles were attributed to failing to yield the right of way. Greenville bicycle accident attorneys see victims of these collisions on a too-frequent basis. Why does this happen?
South Carolina law SECTION 56-5-3420 defines that bicycles are granted all rights and subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle. Unfortunately, other drivers aren’t always on the lookout for bikes. Drivers make turns cutting off cyclists simply because they don’t realize they are there. One of the riskiest things a bicyclist can do is to pedal along the left side of a car or truck up to an intersection. Cyclists who want to turn left should ride within the lane of traffic in a way that makes them visible to others on the roadway.
Bicyclists – Whether you are commuting by bicycle or riding for pleasure through the beautiful streets of Greenville, you must behave as though your life depends on visibility — because it does! Wear bright colors, attach extra reflectors and lights to your bicycle, always use hand signals when turning, and never be afraid to use your voice. Assume that others on the road may not see you and might not always be paying attention or following the law.
Vehicles – When you are behind the wheel of your car or truck, remember that you are sharing the road with cyclists. South Carolina laws specify that drivers should “exercise due care” to avoid hitting someone on a human-powered vehicle (like a bicycle), including utilizing a horn if necessary to warn the biker. Don’t drive distracted. Stay alert, and keep your eyes peeled for pedestrians and bike riders. Do not assume that a bicyclist will behave predictably or that they will always see what you can see. Look over your shoulder before turning in any direction and changing lanes. Yield to a bike rider just as you would another driver.
Unfortunately, when you get in an accident riding a bicycle, you are more likely to suffer serious injuries than someone riding in a car. If you’re hit by a car, your odds of being hurt are even higher, as you have little protection from a two-ton vehicle. As a result, it may be difficult for you to think clearly after your accident. Some bicyclists are badly injured and quickly taken to the hospital, leaving the responding officer to question only the vehicle driver.
Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to a police report skewed in the motorist’s favor. Often the driver insists that the bicycle rider was at fault, but this isn’t always the case. In many situations, the biker obeyed the rules of the road, but the motorist made a mistake. The bicyclist then attempts to make a claim on the driver’s insurance, only to be told they were at fault.
If this has happened to you, don’t worry – and don’t try to work things out with the insurance company yourself. The insurance adjuster may record your conversation, then pick apart everything you say, looking for something they can take out of context and interpret as an admission of responsibility. Instead, call a Greenville bicycle accident lawyer right away so we can get to work proving your case.
Our investigative team will work to uncover more evidence in your case, starting with the police report on the incident. Remember that this accident report reflects the officer’s impressions of what took place after a brief investigation, but it doesn’t prove anything. Some witnesses may not have been interviewed, and the officer might not have had the time or resources to search for video evidence. For this reason, your lawyer will probably go through the police report with you and ask if anything sounds inaccurate. This may provide some ideas of what to look for, so we can conduct a more thorough investigation.
Although bike lanes are designed to give bicyclists a safe place to ride on the road, unfortunately, there are situations where a biker is hit by a car in a bike lane. This can happen for several reasons:
● The motorist didn’t see the bicycle and thought they were clear to enter or turn through a bike lane.
● The driver got too close to the biker, or the biker got too close to the vehicle.
● The driver swerved into the bike lane without looking for some reason.
In these cases, the driver often claims that the biker left the bike lane. Under South Carolina law, bicyclists are required to use bike lanes where available, except when necessary to turn, pass another bike rider, or circumvent an obstruction in the road. If it’s the motorist’s word against the biker’s, it can be difficult to prove what happened.
That’s where our investigative team comes in. We’ll interview any available witnesses and canvas the area looking for those who might have been overlooked. We also search for video of the crash, checking traffic cameras and local buildings with doorbell cameras. This is one reasons we recommend contacting a Greenville bicycle accident attorney sooner rather than later – routinely recorded video is often routinely deleted, so the sooner we can collect it, the better for your case.
Another situation that happens frequently involves a car turning into the path of a bicycle. There can be several causes for these crashes, including the driver failing to notice the bicycle. It might seem obvious that the driver is at fault for turning in front of the bicycle, but this isn’t always the case. Even when it is, it may be difficult to prove. The motorist may argue that you were at fault for one of the following reasons:
● You weren’t using your lights when it was dark or cloudy, making it harder for the driver to see you. South Carolina laws indicate that you should have a strong white light on the front of your bike that can be seen from 500 feet away and a red light or reflector on the back that’s visible at a distance of 50 feet.
● You were riding against traffic. Cyclists should always ride with the flow of traffic, on the right side of the road, in a bike lane, or on the sidewalk where one is available (unless local ordinances say otherwise). Of course, motorists should always look carefully before turning, but they also don’t expect bicyclists to be moving against traffic. Sometimes this is a situation of shared fault, or modified comparative negligence, which we’ll discuss in more depth later.
● You were also turning and did not use proper hand signals, so the driver didn’t know what to expect. Sometimes the biker did use correct hand signals but may have difficulty proving it. Our investigative team will make every effort to uncover evidence in their favor.
● The vehicle had the right of way, and the driver didn’t expect you to move forward. Sometimes this occurs because the motorist is confused about how a four-way stop works or about other rules of the road. In other situations, they may claim that you didn’t have the right of way when you know that you did. It’s often very important to find witnesses or video evidence to prove the other party wrong in this situation.
These happen at intersections but are different from turning collisions because the vehicle is going straight. The driver pulls out of a cross street into the path of the bicycle, and the cyclist cannot stop in time. Usually, the bike hits the vehicle broadside, often resulting in serious injury for the biker and minimal damage to the vehicle. The driver is rarely injured. In most cases, this kind of accident happens because the driver didn’t look carefully in both directions before pulling out. However, in some situations, the driver may claim that the biker didn’t have the light, right of way, or wasn’t visible enough.
South Carolina uses modified comparative negligence rules in personal injury litigation, including bicycle accidents. This system allows both parties to share fault in any way that adds up to 100 percent. When a case goes to trial, a jury is asked to assign a certain percentage of responsibility to each party. The party with less than 50 percent responsibility can seek damages from the party who is more than 50 percent at fault.
This means that even if you made a mistake as a bicyclist, and your error did contribute to the crash, you might still be able to recover damages if the driver was still mostly at fault. But your damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault you’re assigned. If you were 10 percent at fault, for example, and you were awarded $40,000 in damages, you would receive $36,000.
Another important aspect of the claims process is that it rarely ends in a courtroom trial. We always begin by seeking compensation from the driver’s insurance carrier, and in most cases, we’re able to work out a fair settlement for the client. But the insurance carrier’s perception of the client’s level of fault is still significant. If the insurance adjuster believes there is little evidence that their client was at fault, they may be more willing to go to court or make an offer that’s too low to cover your damages. For this reason, collecting as much evidence as possible to prove your case is essential, even if you probably won’t go to court.
So far, we’ve mostly discussed the driver and//or the bicyclist being at fault in a collision. However, there are situations where a third party is fully or partly responsible instead. This may happen if a mechanical defect on your bike or a faulty part on the vehicle caused or contributed to the wreck. For example, if the brakes suddenly failed on either the bike or the car, the manufacturer could be liable. On the other hand, if the owner of the car or bike failed to perform regular maintenance and it was simply past time to replace the brakes, it’s probably not the manufacturer’s responsibility. Because these cases may be complex, we recommend speaking to a Greenville bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible to learn more.
The attorneys at Auger & Auger have a combined litigation experience of more than 50 years. This means you can unequivocally rely on our Greenville bicycle accident attorney to fight vigorously for your rights, putting their knowledge and local relationships in the criminal justice community to work for you.
We understand the financial difficulties victims face and will not add to that burden. Our zero-fee guarantee is designed to ensure that you pay nothing out of pocket and owe us nothing until we win your case. Call our office now to schedule a free evaluation and take the critical first step toward compensation for your financial losses and medical expenses.
Call (864) 991-3532 today for your free consultation, with no fees due until recovery!