A 20-year-old motorcyclist died in Ladson, South Carolina (SC), when he crashed into a minivan attempting to make a left-hand turn. The fatal collision happened at the intersection of Ladson road and College Park road on the morning of March 18, 2017.
According to news reports, the driver of the minivan was turning across oncoming traffic while exiting College Park Road. She had a stop sign while the motorcyclist on Ladson Road had no signs or signals. The impact threw the helmet-wearing rider from his motorcycle, and he died at e path the scene. The woman behind the wheel of the minivan went to the hospital with minor injuries.
Fault Not Clear
South Carolina law requires all drivers to "yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard."
As applied to the reported facts of the deadly wreck in Ladson, the minivan driver would need to remain at the stop sign until she could be sure that no vehicles, including motorcycles, were approaching. Bikes of all kinds can be difficult to spot, but "I never saw …" rarely excuses a car, truck or van driver from legal and civil liability for causing a crash that injures or kills a motorcycle rider.
Complicating the story, however, are indications that the motorcycle rider was traveling down Ladson Road at a high rate of speed. Judging the speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle is always difficult. If the rider who lost his life was speeding, the minivan driver could argue that he shares some of the blame for causing the wreck that took his life.
South Carolina Recognizes the Principle of Comparative Negligence
In situations where both drivers share different degrees of fault, South Carolina allows the driver who did the least to cause the crash to request compensation and damages. Specifically, section 15-38-10 of the state code states that
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.
To succeed with a wrongful death claim, the legal executor of the deceased motorcycle rider will need to show that he was not speeding reckless and that the minivan driver failed to yield right of way while turning left. Working with an experienced Carolina wrongful death attorney will help with this because the lawyer will conduct an independent investigation and work to counter attempts by an insurance company representative to assign primary blame to the motorcyclist.