Can I Sue for a Motorcycle Accident if I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet?
With a great climate, long stretches of highway, and some incredible views, it’s no surprise that motorcyclists love to ride in South Carolina. However, the freedom of riding sometimes comes at a cost, with over 1,700 motorcycle collisions last year.
Does South Carolina law require motorcyclists to wear helmets?
South Carolina law requires helmets for motorcyclists under 21 years of age. If you are over the age of 21, you have no statutory requirement to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle.
Can not wearing a helmet affect my ability to bring a lawsuit?
No. Unlike many other states, in South Carolina, if you are over 21 years of age and were not wearing a helmet, it will have no impact on a lawsuit where another driver was at fault. The South Carolina Supreme Court has held that although South Carolina is a comparative negligence state, not wearing a helmet cannot be considered negligence, as there is no statutory duty to do so. The court has pointed out that while there is no statutory duty to wear a helmet, there is a statutory duty for all drivers to exercise reasonable care while driving. If the accident would not have happened but for another driver failing to exercise reasonable care, the other driver is liable for the full extent of your injuries, and they cannot be minimized or reduced due to your legal choice not to wear a helmet.
Additionally, assumption of risk arguments do not apply to motorcyclists over 21 years of age in South Carolina who elected not to wear a helmet. The Supreme Court of South Carolina held in Mayes v. Paxton that a motorcyclist’s legal choice not to wear a helmet does not imply his consent that all other drivers on the road are absolved of having to exercise reasonable care toward him. This holding is so firm that insurance lawyers are barred from even making an assumption of risk argument in court.
Why did my insurance company deny my claim?
Insurance companies often attempt to deny or reduce your claim by asserting that they are not responsible for paying out the full amount of your injuries if your injuries could have been minimized or avoided (i.e. cost them less) by wearing a helmet. However, this is not the law in South Carolina and the courts have not been shy about saying so. Many insurance companies will initially deny a claim in hopes that the claimant will simply give up and drop it. This is particularly sneaky, because the insurance companies would be barred from making the same arguments in court that they are using to deny claims. They are just banking on the fact that it won’t go any further.
If your legitimate South Carolina injury claim has been denied on the basis of not wearing a helmet, it’s important to speak with an experienced South Carolina Personal Injury lawyer as soon as possible, to ensure that you receive the coverage you are entitled to.
Contact a South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer
An experienced Charleston motorcycle & moped accident lawyer will review the facts of your case and advocate on your behalf to ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to. A successful personal injury lawsuit can compensate you for all past and anticipated future expenses and lost income stemming from your crash, as well as for pain, suffering, and more. For many, bringing a personal injury lawsuit is a way to reclaim their life.
Call the Gus Anastopoulo Law Firm today to schedule your free consultation.