A moped rider hit from behind by a Jeep on SC-38 South in the Marlboro County town of Bennettsville died from his injuries after being flown to a hospital. The fatal rear-end collision happened at around 8:30 pm on July 28, 2017.
South Carolina Highway Patrol responded to the crash on the road known locally as Hamlet Highway. Troopers did not release details on how exactly the wreck happened, but they did note that both the Jeep driver and the moped rider were traveling in the same direction.
The Jeep may have clipped the moped while starting to pass, failed to reduce speed while overtaking the slower-moving vehicle or failed to brake as the moped slowed down for a stoplight or to make a turn. Rear-end collisions can occur for many reasons, but most result from the trailing driver’s negligence or inattention.
Determining if that was the case for this deadly wreck on SC-38 in Bennettsville will be important for the moped rider’s family. Filing and collecting on a wrongful death claim will require showing that the Jeep driver acted more negligently or recklessly than the moped rider. Representatives for the insurance company will certainly cite the detail that the man who lost his life was not wearing a helmet as an argument for the victim’s contribution to the terrible outcome.
Even though South Carolina law does now mandate helmets for moped riders younger than 21 years of age, and helmet use is recommended for all riders, not using head protection does not make it impossible for a crash victim to seek compensation and damages.
South Carolina civil law recognizes a legal principle called comparative negligence. This means that a person who is 49 percent at fault for an accident can hold the person who is 51 percent at fault accountable. The statute most applicable to this case, section 15-38-15(A), states
In an action to recover damages resulting from personal injury, wrongful death, or damage to property or to recover damages for economic loss or for noneconomic loss such as mental distress, loss of enjoyment, pain, suffering, loss of reputation, or loss of companionship resulting from tortious conduct, if indivisible damages are determined to be proximately caused by more than one defendant, joint and several liability does not apply to any defendant whose conduct is determined to be less than fifty percent of the total fault for the indivisible damages as compared with the total of: (i) the fault of all the defendants; and (ii) the fault (comparative negligence), if any, of plaintiff. A defendant whose conduct is determined to be less than fifty percent of the total fault shall only be liable for that percentage of the indivisible damages determined by the jury or trier of fact.
Mopeds offer riders no physical protection during collisions. Drivers of cars, trucks and Jeeps must watch out for the small two-wheelers and slow down when caught behind the vehicles that have top speeds of 30-35 mph. Not spotting mopeds or losing patience before passing can be done safely often results in tragedies like this one My Carolina wrongful death attorneys and I urged all drivers to share the road respectfully with moped riders.