A collision between a tow truck and a motorcycle in the northeast suburbs of Columbia, South Carolina (SC), left the motorcyclist dead. The fatal wreck happened in the Arcadia Lakes community of Richland County a little after 9:30 pm on April 9, 2017.
According to Highway Patrol investigators, the tow truck driver was trying to turn left from Two Notch Road onto Arcadia Lakes Drive when the motorcycle rider crashed into the side of the wrecker. The intersection, which also includes a turnoff onto Riley Road, is controlled by stoplights in all directions.
The biker initially survived being thrown from his motorcycle, but he died due to multiple trauma while being transported to the hospital. Neither the driver of the tow truck nor the passenger in the wrecker suffered injuries.
News reports indicate that the motorcycle rider was not wearing a helmet. This is legal in South Carolina, which requires only people younger than 21 years of age to use head protection while operating or riding on a two-wheel vehicle.
Because the fatal collision happened at an intersection where either the driver or the motorcyclist could have had a red light, and both may have had green lights, crash investigators will need to determine which person had right of way. If the tow truck driver illegally cut off the motorcycle rider, the deceased man’s family would have strong grounds for filing a wrongful death insurance claim or civil lawsuit.
Facing a claim for negligence, the tow truck driver might try to argue that the motorcyclist contributed to causing his own fatal injuries by not wearing a helmet. South Carolina statutes and courts, however, recognize the principle that the victim of a traffic accident can still receive compensation and damages if the other person involved bears more responsibility. Recognizing exceptions for reckless behavior and drunk or drugged driving, section 15-38-10 of the South Carolina Code 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.
Working with a caring and dedicated Carolina wrongful death and brain injury attorney would help the family of the biker who lost his life in Richland County counter arguments that the man was more than 50 percent responsible for the crash on Two Notch Road and its tragic consequences.