A popular trend in many large cities is the use of bike share programs, in which riders rent a bicycle for a period of time before docking it at one of several locations. Charleston has embraced that trend with at least three bike shares offering hundreds of bicycles on a daily and hourly basis. The rise of bike shares brings with it concerns of liability.
Bike share programs provide alternative transportation and enable locals and visitors to enjoy the many great sights in the Charleston area. Bicycles and vehicles, though, often collide, and that means someone is liable for damages.
Bicyclists suffer most
When bicyclists and vehicles collide, the bicyclists take the worst of the damage. A two-ton, mostly metal vehicle striking a vulnerable bicyclist at virtually any speed is likely to cause extensive injuries and possibly death. Medical costs can be very high, but car insurance liability limits can be low.
In South Carolina, drivers can carry as little as $25,000 in bodily injury coverage to pay for medical costs arising from injuries to others. That amount easily gets exceeded when injuries require emergency room treatment, hospitalization or surgery.
What to do after a bike accident
If you or a loved one was involved in a bike accident, while riding a bike from a bike sharing program, obtaining medical treatment is the top priority. However, right after an accident, it best to take photos of the scene and record any video that might help, including witness statements. If possible, obtain names and contact information for any witnesses, as well as exchange information with the other party involved.
Always call the police to report an injury accident, no matter how minor it might seem. The police are the most credible source for investigating and determining fault. The police, though, do make mistakes, and those mistakes could be costly in a contested accident.
Comparative negligence reduces settlements
South Carolina has comparative negligence laws in place that can reduce the amount an at-fault party might have to pay in damages. If a court determines that one party is more negligent in causing an accident than the other, but both are at least partly negligent, the final settlement will reflect the comparative negligence. A $100,000 settlement when one party is fully at fault might be reduced by 30 percent if the court determines the other party is at least 30 percent, for example.
Police mistakes, comparative negligence and potentially low car insurance liability limits could create an unnecessary financial burden for accident victims. Without an experienced bicycle injury attorney, a bicyclist could wind up going bankrupt from unpaid medical costs, instead of enjoying a fun day in Charleston.
If you were injured in a bike accident, while using a bike share app, contact the bike accident attorneys at the Steinberg Law Firm. We are here to advocate for your rights. Call our office at: (843) 720-2800. The initial consultation is free.