Wearing a motorcycle helmet is an essential part of basic rider safety. And while helmets are required for some riders in South Carolina, they are not the law for everyone.
However, the decision not to wear a helmet could affect your monetary compensation in the event of an accident. Knowing the law is critical to ensuring you win the most amount of damages available. Turn to the skilled motorcycle accident attorneys in Lancaster, SC, at Elrod Pope Accident & Injury Attorneys to advocate for you and your family.
Does South Carolina Have a Helmet Law?
South Carolina has adopted a number of laws that govern the operation of motorcycles on the roads and highways in our state. These include provisions that require helmets for riders and passengers. Helmet laws differ from one state to another, and 19 states make no distinction with respect to age. Their laws are often referred to as universal helmet laws.
Ours is not a universal helmet law state. South Carolina helmet law requires only operators and passengers who are under the age of 21 to wear helmets. Regardless, if you are new to the state or merely riding through, it’s important to understand these requirements.
South Carolina Motorcycle Laws: Are Motorcycle Helmets Required in South Carolina?
Under South Carolina Code § 56‐5‐3660, all motorcycle riders and passengers under age 21 are required to wear a helmet.
The helmet must meet certain specifications required by the Department of Public Safety (DPS), which include either a neck or chin strap and reflectors on both sides. According to other sections of the state’s motorcycle law, riders must also wear DPS-approved goggles or a face shield, which are often included with a helmet. An exception to the goggles and face shield requirements is if the motorcycle is equipped with a DPS-approved windscreen.
Violations of the South Carolina helmet law may result in a misdemeanor conviction and a fine of up to $100 or up to 30 days in jail.
What Happens If You Get in a Motorcycle Wreck Without a Helmet?
Anyone who is involved in a motorcycle accident can take legal action against the negligent party (usually, but not always, a motorist) to recover monetary damages. These damages can cover a number of losses the victim suffers, including:
- Medical expenses such as hospitalization, surgery, physical rehabilitation, adaptive medical equipment, and prescription medication
- Lost income and lost future income if the accident renders the victim unable to work or unable to work at the same productivity level
- Pain and suffering, and emotional distress
- Certain wrongful death damages are available to surviving family members of deceased victims
However, if you are a motorcycle operator or passenger and were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, you need to know about South Carolina’s comparative negligence law.
Under this doctrine, a victim’s damages can be reduced if he or she was partially to blame for the injuries stemming from the accident. An accident victim’s share of liability must not exceed 50%, or the victim will not be able to recover any damages.
For instance, a victim may have damages that total $100,000. However, the jury could determine that the victim was 20% at fault for the injuries that gave rise to those damages. In that case, the total award of $100,000 would be reduced by 20% ($20,000), netting $80,000 in total recovery for the victim.
Lawyers and insurance companies representing negligent drivers and other defendants will look for any way they can find to reduce your damages or try to avoid paying any at all. If it is determined that you did not wear a helmet when the accident occurred, the insurance company will try to either deny your accident claim or pay you an unreasonably low amount. If the case goes to trial, the lawyers will try to convince the jury to assign to you a percentage of liability so you get the lowest amount of damages possible.
Were You Injured in a South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Without a Helmet?
It’s important to retain skilled legal counsel that understands how to fight for the compensation that motorcycle accident victims deserve. Regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet, our firm will seek the most available compensation to cover your losses.
We will start with the at-fault party’s insurance company since many personal injury cases can be resolved without having to go to court. However, if the insurer refuses to negotiate in good faith, we will take your case to a jury.
Our attorneys understand the value of motorcycle accidents, and we know what it takes to build a compelling legal case. We typically rely on expert witnesses who can explain precisely how the accident happened and thereby bolster your claim that the at-fault party was negligent in causing the wreck. These witnesses can also help counter the defendant’s efforts to limit your damages amount if you weren’t wearing a helmet.