Most motorcyclists will agree that, from deteriorated road conditions to distracted automobile drivers, riding a motorcycle is as dangerous as it has ever been. For many of the riders unfortunate enough to be seriously injured in an accident, a careless or distracted automobile driver has been at fault. Some riders are forced to go as far as to swerve or kick a car’s side to avoid a collision, with many riders citing cell phone use as the driver’s cause of inattention. The roads in South Carolina are may even be some of the most dangerous for motorcyclists. According to a recent article from The Post and Courier, the average annual fatality rate for riders in South Carolina is second to only Mississippi. Last year’s 135 motorcyclist deaths was the highest death rate in the palmetto state in a century, showing a frightening trend after the 2015 fatality rate rose to the highest level since 2007.
States with mandatory helmet laws show fatality rates 20 to 40 percent lower than elsewhere, but in South Carolina, only those 21 and younger fall under any state mandated helmet rule. Efforts to pass additional helmet laws in South Carolina have failed, but nearly three-quarters of motorcyclist deaths on South Carolina roads involve helmetless riders.
Some riders believe that untrained or reckless motorcyclists are the cause of the high fatality rate, as these riders are more prone to actions which create more risk of an accident such as weaving in and out of traffic and high-speed wheelies. According to some, it is the untrained riders with one to two years’ riding experience who take the most risk, as these riders are less cautious than both new and seasoned riders. In South Carolina, the law doesn’t require any training and only asks for a limited amount of proof of motorcycle riding ability to obtain a motorcycle license. In fact, the only test required to obtain a motorcycle license is taken on a closed course and only requires the rider to maneuver the bike at speeds well below typical roadway speeds (approximately 15 m.p.h.in the test) to pass. Whether it is making the decision to wear a helmet or taking a class to sharpen your motorcycle riding skills, there are steps that any rider can take to make the roads a less dangerous place for themselves and avoid the injuries, financial burden, and the chance of death that come with a motorcycle accident.
With accidents on the rise, more and more people are unfortunately injured and suffer from motor vehicle accidents involving motorcycles, even where the motorcyclist had no fault in the accident. The attorneys at Goings Law Firm, LLC understand the dangers motorcyclists face. Riders have a right to safety on the road, and those who create unsafe conditions should be held legally and financially responsible for their actions. For more information or to speak one of our qualified and compassionate Columbia personal injury attorneys, please contact us at (803) 350-9230 today.
On August 9, 2017, the South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed an Order of the Workers Compensation Commission in the matter of Sellers v. Tech Service, Inc., Op. No. 5508 (S.C. Ct. App. filed August 9, 2017) (Shearouse Adv. Sh. No. 30 at 14). The Court of Appeals found that the injured worker, Stacey Sellers, was an employee under the Act, and not an “independent contractor” as claimed by his employer.
On November 8, 2013, Stacey Sellers fell off a ladder while performing HVAC work during the construction of a single-family home located in the Market Commons subdivision in Horry County. Claimant injured his lower extremities, his back, and his neck as a result of the fall. Claimant alleged that he was a long time employee of two HVAC companies, Tech Services of Myrtle Beach, LLC and/or Tech Services, Inc., and that he was working in the course and scope of his employment with one or both Tech Services entities at the time of the accident. The Employer claimed that Mr. Sellers was an independent contractor because he obtained his own workers’ compensation insurance, was provided a Form 1099, and worked for himself on other projects.
The Court of Appeals thoroughly analyzed the facts based on the 4 factor test to determine whether an injured worker qualifies as an employee in South Carolina. “Under settled law, the determination of whether a claimant is an employee or independent contractor focuses on the issue of control, specifically whether the purported employer had the right to control the claimant in the performance of his work.” Shatto v. McLeod Reg’l Med. Ctr., 406 S.C. 470, 475, 753 S.E.2d 416, 419 (S.C. 2013) (citations omitted). “Under the controlling common law rubric of the right of control, the Court examines four factors which serve as a means of analyzing the work relationship as a whole: (1) direct evidence of the right or exercise of control; (2) furnishing of equipment; (3) method of payment; (4) right to fire.” Id. (citations omitted). As Shatto requires, these factors should be applied “in an evenhanded manner in determining whether the questioned relationship is one of employment or independent contractor.” Id.
In applying these factors, the Court of Appeals held that the greater weight of the evidence supports the finding of an employment relationship between Mr. Sellers and Tech Service at the time of the accident. The Court noted there was overwhelming evidence in the record illustrating Tech Service had the right to exercise control over the details of Mr. Seller’s work. The record in this case is devoid of an independent contractor agreement. Tech Service furnished equipment for Mr. Sellers to use while on the job. At the time of the injury, Mr. Sellers was wearing a Tech Service uniform and had Tech Service business cards. He told service contracts for Tech Services and purchased supplies on Tech Service accounts with HVAC suppliers. Mr. Sellers received the majority of his income from Tech Service. In addition, the court found evidence illustrating Tech Service supervised, inspected and monitored the quality of Respondent’s work product supporting the finding that Tech Service had the right to terminate its working relationship with Respondent without liability. The totality of the evidence favored an employer/employee relationship over an independent contractor relationship.
If you have any questions about whether you are considered an “employee” or an “independent contractor”, please give us a call so that we can help. Unfortunately, employers and their workers compensation carriers will do anything to deny paying for benefits, even so far as to claim the you are not an employee under the law. This is a big win for injured workers!
The Full Opinion from the South Carolina Court of Appeal can be found here: http://www.sccourts.org/opinions/HTMLFiles/COA/5508.pdf
In South Carolina, motorcyclists are in more danger than in almost any other state in the Southeast, statistics show. The state’s 2015 fatality rate was its highest since 2007, and the 135 motorcyclists who died on South Carolina roads last year were the most this century. The cause has been attributed to poorly maintained road, potholes and pea gravel, inexperienced riders and distracted drivers. South Carolina law also allows riders to obtain motorcycle licenses with no training and minimum evidence of road proficiency.
Among nine Southeast states, South Carolina’s average annual fatality rate from 2011 to 2015 is approximately 10 deaths per 10,000 registered motorcycles. The annual fatality rate is second worse, only to Mississippi, which has the least number of registered motorcycles in the region. The road skills test in South Carolina is taken on a closed course where requires riders to perform turns, stops and weaves. In fact, the most of the exercises of the Department of Motor Vehicles involve speeds of approximately 15 m.p.h.
The Goings Law Firm, LLC wants to remind South Carolina motorcycle drivers to be safe and vigilant on the roads. Watch out for other drivers who may not be operating their vehicle as carefully as you. The personal injury lawyers at the Goings Law Firm know all too well the life-altering injuries that can occur when drivers are not driving carefully
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, trucking accident, or motorcycle collision, please call us at (803) 350-9230 to see if we can help. Our personal injury attorneys may be able to assist you with the applicable legal process and help you obtain the compensation you need.
The Goings Law Firm, LLC is pleased to announce that Columbia Workers Compensation attorney, Christian Boesl has joined the firm as Of Counsel. Christian will be managing the expanding workers’ compensation practice at the Goings Law Firm, LLC. We are blessed to have him as a valuable member of the team. More to come about Christian Boesl!
The entire team at Goings Law Firm is proud to announce that managing partner and founder Robert Goings was named the “Top Attorney for Personal Injury Litigation” for the 2017 edition of the Legal Elite of the Midlands by Columbia Business Monthly.
The article includes an interview with attorney Goings and discusses his passion for music, the arts, his family, and how these formative influences shaped his development into one of the state’s leading trial attorneys. The piece also discusses his desire to “tell a story, connect with the jury, and to be authentic, truthful, and compassionate in the courtroom as he represents his client to the best of his ability”. To read the article in its entirety in the digital version of Columbia Business Monthly, click here.