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Biking Around Charleston

Bicycles are an increasingly popular mode of transportation. Not only do they keep you active and healthy, but bikes also don’t burn fossil fuels which is better for the environment -- and your bank account. Charleston, South Carolina, has an avid biking community. Tourists who visit from all over the world also enjoy biking to and from beaches and many of the Holy City’s historic destinations. Despite the city’s efforts to increase safety for cyclists, accidents still happen.

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Cyclist’s Rights in South Carolina

While many drivers on the roadways just see bicyclists as a nuisance, cyclists are protected under the rules of the road. Knowing your rights and following the laws are the first steps in being a responsible cyclist. It is important for Charleston cyclists to understand:

  • Bicycles are considered vehicles under South Carolina law. That means that cyclists carry the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles. They must travel in the same direction as the lane of traffic they are using, they must obey traffic signals, and they must use signals when turning and changing lanes. There are a few exceptions for bicyclists, when a bike lane is available, they should use the designated lanes.
  • Specific equipment is required to keep bicyclists safe in the streets. Bikes must have brakes that work properly, a red reflector on the back, and front lamps with white light to ride on the road at night. Helmets are strongly encouraged, but not required for riders over the age of 21.
  • Drivers of vehicles must exercise due care. South Carolina’s bicycle laws state that each vehicle must exercise due care to avoid colliding with bicyclists, which includes driving at a safe distance away from bicycles.

Bicycle Accident Causes and Injuries

Collisions with cyclists often happen because of driver negligence. Bicycles are not as visible to a driver who is distracted or not paying close attention to their surroundings. These negligible driving practices can lead to catastrophic accidents:

  • Blocking a bike lane
  • Distracted driving
  • Drunk driving
  • Failure to signal a lane change
  • Failure to yield to a cyclist
  • Failure to check for a cyclist when opening the door of a parked car
  • Reckless driving
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Speeding

Sometimes other drivers’ actions can be anticipated. Cyclists’ awareness can only go so far in keeping them safe. Even with the safety modifications that people make to bikes, like adding rear view mirrors to handlebars, it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen on the open road. South Carolina held the ninth highest cyclist fatality rate in the country in 2015. These wrecks are catastrophic, and the ones that are not can leave you with scads of injuries.

Common Bike Accident Injuries in Charleston

Some of the most common bike accident injuries affecting cyclists in Charleston include:

  • Head and brain injuries. It is imperative to wear a helmet when cycling. These types of injuries include traumatic brain injury, skull fractures, concussion, brain contusion, and intracranial hemorrhage.
  • Neck and back injuries. Your spine is very vulnerable in a bicycle accident when your body gets crushed or thrown by a moving vehicle. You may experience spinal cord damage such as herniated discs, fractured vertebrae, whiplash, and pinched nerves.
  • Limb injuries and broken bones. Your limbs are so exposed when riding a bicycle that these areas are almost always injured to some degree in an accident. This can range from crushed bones and lacerations to dislocations, torn ligaments, and hip fractures.
  • Face, skin and soft tissue injuries. Even with a helmet on, there’s not much to protect your face from the pavement which can cause dental fractures, facial fractures, puncture wounds, and permanent scarring. Road rash is incredibly painful and can leave you with nerve damage and limited mobility. Muscle strains, sprains, and tendonitis all require downtime to recover.
  • Internal injuries. Internal bleeding and injury to internal organs occurs when a rider experiences blunt force trauma. Many accident victims may not realize they have experienced internal injuries. That is why it is imperative to seek emergency medical attention when you have been in a bicycle accident.

Why Hire an Attorney?

If you or your loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, you may be feeling the weight of the stress that comes with accumulating medical bills, lost wages from having to take time off work, and the emotional stress that comes with coping with pain and recovery. A qualified Charleston bicycle accident attorney can walk you through your legal options.

At Allen Law we provide the one-on-one attention our clients need to strengthen their case. From collecting information that helps determine liability to negotiating with insurance adjusters. We are committed to helping victims receive the settlement they deserve. Don’t suffer while the insurance companies undervalue your case. Call Allen Law for a free consultation at (843) 882-5005.

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