Riding a bicycle is a great way to get some exercise. Some people even ride a bicycle to get to work or school. You may have seen signs warning that cars need to share the road with cyclists; however, the reality is that many cyclists are still hit by motor vehicles every year. If you are struck by a motor vehicle, you are likely to suffer serious injuries. There is a severe lack of protection between cyclists and the pavement. As a result, even if you are struck by a motor vehicle at a relatively low speed, you may suffer serious injuries. Can you sue for damages if you are struck by a motor vehicle in South Carolina? The good news is you can. But you need to understand the following information before you file a lawsuit.
Typically, the person driving a car has a greater duty of care than the person riding a bike. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore traffic laws and still get compensation after getting into a bicycle accident. Bike riders are less likely to be responsible for an accident, but they are not shielded from being at fault.
Furthermore, in most accidents, fault isn’t an all-or-nothing situation. Typically, both parties are at least partially responsible. For example, even though bicycle helmets aren’t required in South Carolina, if you aren’t wearing one, you may be considered partially responsible for the severity of the injuries you suffered in an accident.
When you sue for damages, the court determines how much responsibility you have for your injuries. Then the compensation you are awarded is reduced by an amount proportionate to that responsibility. Additionally, according to South Carolina law, if you are more than 50% responsible for your injuries, you can’t recover damages.
Every driver in South Carolina is required to have liability insurance that compensates others for damages suffered in a car accident. This insurance applies even if the injured party was riding a bike. Sometimes it is better to go through the other party’s insurance company than to file a lawsuit. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hire a lawyer.
Insurance companies are notorious for denying legitimate claims or underpaying the true value of a claim. An experienced personal injury attorney like James Whalen or Eric Montalvo will investigate the accident and gather evidence that proves the value of your case. Your lawyer knows how to present that evidence to the insurance company in a way that convinces it to settle for a fair amount.
When you are represented by a lawyer, the process isn’t quite the same as a normal insurance claim, but the results are roughly the same. You will usually get a lump sum payment for all current and future medical bills and lost wages. Typically, even including the lawyer’s fee, you will get more money than you would have gotten if you weren’t represented.
Unfortunately, a significant number of bike accidents are hit-and-run accidents. Sometimes drivers don’t even realize they hit someone on a bike; at other times, the driver flees the scene, fearing legal consequences. This makes it harder to collect the compensation you deserve. When Eric Montalvo gets a case like this, the first thing he does is contact the local police. Due to his experience in handling criminal defense cases, he has plenty of contacts in the police force. Between a police investigation and investigators from Whalen Montalvo, there is a good chance that the culprit will be found.
However, if it’s not possible to find the driver, you may have to go through your personal health insurance to get compensation. Unfortunately, health insurance companies are often as frugal as car insurance companies. This means you may have to sue your health insurance company to get the amount of compensation you deserve.
Typically, when you file a lawsuit to recover damages in a bike accident, you sue one of two parties: the driver of the car or an insurance company.
The driver’s insurance company will end up paying any damages that the court orders, but you might sue the driver in case insurance won’t cover everything or if you are eligible for punitive damages (which typically aren’t covered by insurance). If you need to sue an insurance company directly, it is more likely that you will sue your own insurance company. It may try to deny your case, even though it is valid, or try to undervalue the compensation you deserve. An attorney like James Whalen will determine who you should sue and why.
When you are riding a bicycle and get hit by a car, you should be able to file an insurance claim with the other driver’s insurance company and get compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses.
Unfortunately, these situations are rarely that simple. The insurance company controls the claims process, which means it can do any number of things to minimize the value of your claim. The most powerful control it has over the process is that it investigates the accident. This means that the person investigating the accident has a financial reason to determine that you were partially or completely at fault for your injuries, and you don’t have a lot of power to contest that while you are in the hospital recovering. Your attorney, however, does. They will investigate the accident independently and collect evidence to support your claim. While the investigator for the insurance company might “overlook” that evidence, a claims adjuster can’t ignore it after your lawyer provides it.
Additionally, the insurance company has is more experience with injury claims than you do. If it offers $15,000, that may seem reasonable to you, especially if you haven’t gotten your first hospital bill yet. The insurance company wants to take advantage of your inexperience. A skilled lawyer has a better understanding of the true value of your injuries and won’t let you settle for anything unfair.
If you were struck by a car while riding a bike, you are probably facing years of medical care and bills. That is a terrifying prospect and one that you shouldn’t have to face alone. Our legal team at Whalen Montalvo has the experience to help you get fair compensation no matter how complicated your case is. Contact us today at (864) 770-7710 to schedule a consultation with an attorney who cares.
Get the best legal representation possible. Give the Greenville, SC attorneys at Whalen Montalvo a call today at (864) 770-7710 or use our online form.