As the capital of South Carolina, Columbia is a busy city. Busy cities are often characterized by tight, congested streets, and Columbia is no different. Residents make heavy use of the city’s roadways and public transportation systems every day, utilizing them as motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and bus patrons. In addition to the city’s residents, travelers moving through the region make use of Columbia’s highways because of its location as a central hub. These highways include Interstate 26, Interstate 20, Interstate 77, and Interstate 126 as well as multiple state highways. In heavy traffic, there is a greater chance of collisions, and when traffic collisions occur, there can be serious injuries.

Bicyclists are at a greater risk of suffering injuries in collisions because of their lack of a protective chassis and the lack of power a bicycle has in comparison to a motor vehicle. A few intersections in the city that have been recognized as having a high collision rate include the intersection of United States Highway 76 and Fort Jackson Boulevard and Interstate 20 at Broad River Road. These intersections are among the most dangerous in the state for drivers and bicyclists alike. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in Columbia, you could potentially face substantial damages. Do not allow these damages to place a financial burden on you or on your family. Work with an experienced personal injury lawyer to pursue compensation through a bicycle accident claim.

Columbia Bicycle Accident Statistics

South Carolina has experienced a surge of population growth over the past few years, with many individuals and families from northern states relocating to take advantage of South Carolina’s warm weather and natural beauty. This natural beauty makes it an ideal place to bicycle, whether you prefer city streets or wooded trails.

Despite its popularity with bicyclists, South Carolina is in the bottom three states for public spending on bicycle and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure projects. It is also one of the top five states for bicycle fatalities, most of which are due to collisions, rather than weather-related hazards like fog and rain. In 2009, 11 bicyclist fatalities were reported in South Carolina. In 2010, this number rose to 14 fatalities.

Between 2005 and 2009, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety recorded 2,646 collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles that resulted in 78 deaths and 2,368 injuries. In response to these injuries and deaths, including the high-profile 2000 death of dentist Harry Sunshine, groups like The Palmetto Cycling Coalition and Columbia’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Action Committee have taken steps to make the city more bicycle-friendly. These steps include accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians and encouraging bicycle travel as an alternative to traveling by car. Since 2008, Columbia has been recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.

How Can I Be Injured in a Bicycle Accident?

There are many ways you can be injured in a bicycle accident. These include:

  • Falling from your bicycle and suffering an impact with the pavement, either due to a collision with a motor vehicle or a fall due to uneven pavement;
  • Colliding with a motor vehicle or being pushed into a wall or stationary object by one;
  • Being thrown from your bicycle, falling, or being forced to swerve into traffic because of a hazard in the roadway; and
  • Missing a curb or other hazard because of low visibility.

As you can see, you can be injured as a result of a driver’s negligence or as a result of the city’s failure to maintain safe roads and infrastructure. Determining the party whose negligence caused you to be involved in an accident is an important part of the personal injury claim process, because this is the party with whose insurance provider you will file your claim. Even if you were partially at fault for your accident, you can still file a claim to seek compensation for your damages.

Examples of injuries you can suffer as a result of a bicycle accident include:

  • Broken bones;
  • Burns, either due to contact with hot pavement or contact with a vehicle’s hot engine;
  • Cuts;
  • Sprains;
  • Strains; and
  • Traumatic brain injury.

You can reduce your chance of suffering a traumatic brain injury by wearing a helmet when you ride your bicycle, but do not assume that this will prevent all injuries. When you are involved in a bicycle accident, it is important that you seek medical attention for your injury as soon as you can, no matter how minor your accident appears to be.

Determining Liability in a Bicycle Accident

After you have received appropriate medical care for your injury, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss pursuing a claim for monetary compensation from the negligent party’s insurance provider. To do this, you will need to determine which party was negligent. Negligence is defined as the failure to perform one’s duty to protect others from harm. For example, drivers have the duty to obey posted traffic signals because these signals are in place for their safety and the safety of others. If a driver speeds through a red light, he or she is negligent by shirking that duty. Once you determine the negligent party in your case, you need to prove that he or she was negligent by providing evidence such as photographs, video surveillance, and eyewitness testimonies of the accident to the insurance provider. Your lawyer can help you obtain the necessary evidence for your claim.

Work with an Experienced Columbia Personal Injury Lawyer

Bicyclists have to be more vigilant than motorists on the roadway because unlike motorists, bicyclists do not have protective chassis around them to cushion an impact. A bicycle also has far less power than a motor vehicle, leaving bicyclists quite vulnerable to injuries and death in the event of a collision. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in Columbia, contact our team of experienced personal injury lawyers at Joye Law Firm today to set up your free legal consultation with us. If you cannot make it to our office, we can come to your location for your consultation. Contact our firm to get started with a member of our team today.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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