Bicyclists in South Carolina have the same rights to the road as motorists. They must also adhere to the same traffic laws as anyone who drives a car, truck, or SUV.

If you were riding a bicycle and were hit by a car, you may be entitled to compensation, including for your property damage, medical bills, and emotional distress. However, South Carolina’s contributory negligence doctrine may prevent you from receiving maximum compensation if you are partially at fault.

Work with the team of South Carolina bike accident lawyers at Joye Law Firm to help you reduce any partial negligence and get the settlement that you deserve.

What Laws Do Bicyclists Have to Follow?

A bicyclist must adhere to several state laws to ride on public roads, which include both how to use roads and what your bike needs to be street legal. If you ride a bicycle in South Carolina, keep the following in mind:

  • You must place a front-facing light and a rear-facing reflector on your bike.
  • Your bike must have functioning brakes.
  • Do not carry a passenger unless your bike has been adapted to carry one.
  • Follow all traffic signals and signage just like you would in a car (this means you can’t proceed through a stop sign with stopping, for example).
  • Keep at least one hand on the handlebar at all times.
  • Use the bike lane whenever one is available.
  • Keep to the right when riding.

It’s especially important for bicyclists to obey road signs and traffic signals. Failing to do so not only puts you in harm’s way, but it also leaves you open to partial legal liability if you are struck by a car. That means it will be harder to get compensation for your injuries, and you may restricted from getting the full amount of compensation you need.

South Carolina law does not require cyclists to wear a helmet. However, doing so can prevent more severe injuries if you are involved in a collision with a car, which is why we always recommend doing so.

When Are Car Drivers at Fault for Bike Accidents?

Motorists must give bicyclists the same courtesy as they would drivers of other vehicles. They should also exercise a duty of care toward cyclists and yield the right of way in certain situations. The driver of a car may share liability for an accident in several circumstances, including:

  • Driving into the bicycle lane: Drivers may not block the bicycle lane when there is oncoming bicycle traffic. They are also expected to yield the right-of-way to bicycles entering and crossing the bike lane.
  • Failing to stop at a stop sign: Drivers must stop at stop signs and any clearly marked stop line. Intersections are the most common location for collisions, because drivers fail to stop at stop signs, brake too late at stop signs and hit the bicyclist’s rear tire, or because they turn without checking the crosswalk for bikes.
  • Driving while impaired: South Carolina law prohibits driving while intoxicated if the driver’s ability to drive is substantially and appreciably impaired by alcohol. The driver may be charged with DUI if their BAC is 0.08 percent or higher.

When Are Bicyclists at Fault for Collisions?

A bicyclist can be found at least partially at fault if there is evidence that they were riding recklessly or contributed to their own accident. For example, cyclists may be held liable if they were riding distracted or impaired at the time of the accident.

  • Riding without lights at night: Bicyclists must have a front lamp and rear reflector on their bicycles when they ride at night. The white light must emit at least five hundred feet, and the reflector must be visible from 50 feet to 300 feet to the rear.
  • Riding against traffic: Bicyclists have to obey the flow of traffic just like other motor vehicles. In addition, according to South Carolina law, bicyclists must be in the bicycle lane on all roadways. When there is no bicycle lane, they must stay as far to the right in the lane as possible. Cyclists may ride on the road’s shoulder when available.

When Does a South Carolina Bicyclist Share Liability in a Car Accident?

South Carolina follows contributory negligence law, in which a jury decides the percentage of liability between the bicyclist and the driver (if a case goes to trial). If a bicyclist is less than 51% at fault for an accident, they may still receive compensation. However, if a cyclist is more than 50% at fault, they lose all rights to damages.

If you bring a case against a driver who hit you while you were biking and the court decides that you bear 15% responsibility for the accident, your compensation will be reduced by 15%. Alternatively, if the car’s driver proves you are 60% responsible, you won’t win any compensation for your injuries.

Contributory negligence makes it vital that you seek experienced legal representation to prove the other party is at fault for the collision and minimize your liability.

Reduce Your Share of Fault with a South Carolina Lawyer

If you are partially at fault for a bike accident or if the driver who hit you is claiming you are at fault, you need to contact the bike accident attorneys at Joye Law Firm. We can help you navigate contributory negligence and receive the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Reach out today for a free case evaluation to discuss the merits of your claim and learn how we can help you.

About the Author

Ken Harrell joined Joye Law Firm in 1994, and has been the managing partner since 2006. With 30 years of experience, he protects the rights of injured South Carolinians, including cases involving workers’ compensation, car accidents, and defective products. Ken also leads the firm’s referral practice, helping to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation. He is a past president of South Carolina Injured Workers’ Advocates, and has served as the co-chairman of this organization’s legislative affairs committee for 12 years.

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