What Damages am I Entitled to for my Motorcycle Accident in South Carolina?

Motorcycles are a lot of fun to ride – but they can also be incredibly dangerous. In 2020 alone, there were 1,909 accidents involving motorcycles in South Carolina. In those crashes, 113 people were killed, 320 people suffered a serious injury, and 1,087 people suffered some type of injury.

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident that was caused by another person, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses. This may include money for your direct financial losses – like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage – as well as money for intangible losses, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. In some cases, you may even be able to recover punitive damages against the at-fault party.

At the Derrick Law Office, we advocate for injury victims throughout South Carolina, helping them get the money that they deserve for their injuries. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. Give our law firm a call today to talk to a Simpsonville Motorcycle accident lawyer about your claim.

When Are You Entitled to Recover Damages for a Motorcycle Accident?

Motorcycle accident cases are a type of personal injury claim. Most of these claims are based on a theory of negligence, or carelessness. Generally, a person is considered negligent if they fail to use the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation. To prove that someone else’s negligence caused your motorcycle accident, you will usually be required to demonstrate the following:

  1. Duty: the at-fault party (defendant) owed you a duty to use reasonable care.
  2. Breach: the defendant violated that duty in some way, such as by running a stop sign.
  3. Causation: this violation was the proximate or but-for cause of the accident 
  4. Damages: you suffered losses as a result.

If the at-fault party violated a law in causing the crash, then you may be able to proceed under a theory of negligence per se. With negligence per se, you won’t have to prove these four elements – you will simply have to show that the defendant violated a law, that the purpose of the law was to prevent the kind of harm that you suffered, and that you were a person that was intended to be protected by the law.  For example, if another driver causes a motorcycle crash by speeding, then your South Carolina motorcycle accident lawyer may be able to use this theory.

While many motorcycle accidents are caused by another motorist, there are other parties that can potentially be held accountable for a wreck. This may include a government agency that failed to properly maintain the road or even a manufacturer that installed a faulty part on your bike.

Damages in a South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Case

If you were the victim in a motorcycle collision, then you may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Through a claim, you can recover financial compensation for all of your injuries. Damages in a motorcycle accident case fall into two main categories: compensatory damages and punitive damages.

Compensatory damages are designed to compensate accident victims for their losses. There are two types of compensatory damages:

  • Economic damages, which compensate an injury victim for their direct financial losses.
  • Non-economic damages, which pay for intangible losses.

Economic damages can include a wide range of losses, which are typically proven by submitting invoices, repair estimates, pay stubs, and other documentation. Examples of economic damages include property damage (bike repair or replacement, based on the extent of the damage), medical expenses, future medical treatment, lost wages, and reduced earning capacity. Depending on your situation, you may also be able to recover compensation for things like modifications to your home or vehicle to make it accessible after a more serious injury.

Non-economic damages can be harder to prove because you don’t get a bill for things like your emotional distress. Insurance companies often balk at paying non-economic damages. An experienced South Carolina motorcycle accident attorney will use their knowledge of similar cases and work with experts to build a strong case for non-economic damages, which may include pain and suffering, mental anguish, scarring, disfigurement, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and/or loss of enjoyment of life.

Punitive damages are different because they are not meant to compensate an injury victim. Instead, they are designed to punish a person who engaged in intentional or reckless conduct and to deter others from doing the same. While punitive damages are rare in personal injury cases, they may be awarded in drunk driving accident claims and other situations where a defendant acted intentionally or recklessly.

Importantly, South Carolina law caps punitive damages at the greater of three times compensatory damages or $500,000. If your compensatory damages totaled $250,000 and punitive damages are available in your case, then you could recover up to $750,000 for punitive damages. A South Carolina motorcycle accident lawyer can help you understand your rights as they relate to punitive damages.

In fatal motorcycle accidents, the victim’s survivors may bring a wrongful death and survival action to recover compensation for their losses. Through this type of claim, the family members may recover compensation for lost wages, loss of consortium, loss of companionship, burial expenses, funeral expenses, and the damages that a person would have been entitled to if they had survived. This may include punitive damages if they are available based on the facts of the case.

After a motorcycle crash, you may be approached by an adjuster for the at-fault party’s insurance company. They may tell you that they accept fault or even offer you a settlement. These initial offers are often far less than the true value of your case – and if you sign an agreement, you will be giving up your right to pursue a claim later. The best way to get the full amount of compensation that you are entitled to under South Carolina law is by working with a seasoned personal injury lawyer in Simpsonville, SC.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident? We Can Help.

Motorcycle accidents are known for causing, serious, life-changing, or even fatal injuries. If you were hurt in a motorcycle crash that was caused by another person, you may be able to recover financial compensation to cover your losses. Our law firm will advocate for you throughout the process to help you achieve justice.

The Derrick Law Office represents clients throughout the greater Simpsonville and Laurens region. We work hard to help our clients get top dollar for their losses, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for them. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a South Carolina motorcycle accident attorney, call our office at 864-531-7765 or fill out our online contact form.

Related: Pain and Suffering Lawyer in South Carolina