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Bicycle Accident Claims & Helmet Laws in Columbia

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If you’re a bicyclist here in Columbia, it’s crucial you understand how helmet use can influence your safety and any potential legal claims following an accident. Join us to explore the impact of helmet use on injury claims, compare bicycle accident claims and helmet regulations in South Carolina to those in other areas, and discuss how not wearing a helmet might affect your case if you ever find yourself involved in a bicycle accident

The Impact of Helmet Use on Injury Claims

When you wear a helmet while riding your bicycle, you’re protecting your head and potentially safeguarding your legal rights. This is primarily because the helmet serves as a barrier between your head and the impact. The design of modern helmets incorporates materials like expanded polystyrene, similar to what you find in car bumpers, which absorb much of the force of an impact. This material lessens the direct force hitting your skull and brain during a crash.
Additionally, the helmet’s outer shell spreads the force over a broader area.

In combination, these features drastically reduce the likelihood of head injuries, which are among the most destructive and most common outcomes of bicycle accidents. In fact, research from the National Medical Library shows that helmet use reduces the chances of:

  • Head injury by 85%,
  • Brain injury by 88%
  • Severe brain injury by at least 75%

This means that if you’re in an accident, this one piece of equipment could be the difference between a minor injury and a life-altering one.

In legal terms, wearing a helmet demonstrates what attorneys call ‘mitigating damages.’ This means you’ve taken reasonable steps to minimize your injuries. In Columbia and throughout South Carolina, if you end up in a bicycle accident, the fact that you were wearing a helmet can positively influence your injury claim.

Insurance companies and courts alike often look more favorably on claimants who have taken proactive safety measures. This often means a more favorable settlement or judgment, reflecting your commitment to safety and adherence to safety norms.

Bicycle Accident Claims and Helmet Regulations in South Carolina

South Carolina’s approach to bicycle safety and helmet regulations differs from that of many other states. Unlike states with mandatory helmet laws for all riders or children of certain ages, South Carolina does not currently enforce a statewide bicycle helmet law for any age group. This means that in Columbia, you don’t have a legal obligation to wear a helmet while you ride your bike.

However, don’t mistake this lack of legal requirement for a lack of necessity. Comparatively, states such as California have stringent laws requiring all riders under age 18 to wear helmets. They accompany these regulations with public safety campaigns and enforce them vigorously to reduce the number of head injuries and fatalities.

This lack of a statewide helmet law in South Carolina places an increased responsibility on you as a rider to make informed decisions about your safety. In the case of a bicycling accident, the absence of a helmet law can also complicate the legal proceedings. Although choosing not to wear a helmet isn’t illegal, it can still factor into the assessment of fault and damages.

How Not Wearing a Helmet Affects Your Case

In the eyes of the law and insurance companies, choosing not to wear a helmet – while not illegal – can count as an oversight in your duty to minimize your risk of injury. This interpretation can affect the outcome of your claim, influencing how an insurer or a jury calculates compensation, which is what damages they consider recoverable.

Comparative negligence means that during the legal evaluation of an accident, each party scrutinizes the other party’s actions to determine their contribution to the incident and resulting injuries.

In South Carolina, not wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle can significantly influence the outcome of your injury claim due to the state’s application of the comparative negligence framework. Under South Carolina law, if a trial finds you were partially responsible for your injuries, your award will be less, in proportion to your percentage of fault.

Let’s consider a hypothetical case: Suppose you are riding your bicycle in Columbia, and a vehicle makes an illegal turn, hitting you. In the accident, you sustain severe head injuries. If you were wearing a helmet, the injuries might have been minor. During the legal proceedings, evidence reveals that the driver was primarily at fault for making an illegal turn. Still, you also contributed to the severity of your injuries by choosing not to wear a helmet. If the court assigns you 20% of the fault based on your decision, and the total assessed damages are $200,000, your recoverable damages would shrink to $160,000.

Keep Yourself Informed

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As a bicyclist in South Carolina, understanding the dynamics of helmet use and its legal implications is a must. Whether you’re making your way through busy city streets or enjoying a quiet ride on a local trail, wearing a helmet is a simple yet effective way to enhance your safety and protect your legal rights down the road. Knowing the local laws and how comparative negligence works can help you better manage the painful and probably confusing aftermath of a bicycle accident.

How Goings Law Firm, LLC Can Help

If you’ve been in a bicycle accident, you don’t have to recover alone. Contact Goings Law Firm, LLC today. We’re here to listen to your story, understand the pain and stress you’re experiencing, and provide the guidance you need. With our comprehensive understanding of bicycle accident cases, we’re well-equipped to fight for the justice and compensation you deserve. Our track record speaks volumes, with millions of dollars won for our clients. Let us put our skills to work for you.

Reach out to set up a free consultation where we can start building your case, ensuring you recover compensation for all of your injuries and other damages. Contact us online or by calling (803) 350-9230 today and take the first step toward relief and recovery.

Last Updated : May 8, 2024
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