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Columbia Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > General > What You Should Know About Left-Turn Motorcycle Wrecks

What You Should Know About Left-Turn Motorcycle Wrecks


The landmark Hurt Report concluded that about a third of the fatal motorcycle wrecks in the United States are left-turn wrecks. Typically, a tortfeasor (negligent driver) is waiting to make an unprotected left turn against traffic, usually at a red light or while leaving a private residence or business. The tortfeasor doesn’t see an oncoming motorcycle and turns directly into the rider’s path. Stunt men spring right up after these collisions in the movies. In the real world, the riders often don’t get up at all.

Tortfeasors have plenty of excuses in these situations. They usually tell first responders that the rider “came out of nowhere” and the crash was therefore inevitable. These excuses usually don’t hold up in court. In fact, in the hands of a skilled Columbia motorcycle accident lawyer, such a statement is basically an admission that the tortfeasor didn’t maintain a proper lookout. As a result, the tortfeasor is clearly responsible for the wreck and liable for damages.

Building a Case

Motorists waiting to turn left against traffic must usually yield the right-of-way to all other motorists, including motorcycle riders. However, although the law on this point is clear, emergency responders often don’t issue citations in these situations. They’d rather let insurance companies and Columbia personal injury attorneys resolve things in civil court.

Therefore, victim/plaintiffs must normally use the ordinary negligence doctrine to obtain compensation for their injuries. This doctrine has four basic elements in South Carolina:

  • Duty: Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care in most cases. This duty includes not only a responsibility to yield the right-of way, but also an obligation to generally drive defensively and avoid accidents if possible.
  • Breach: Tortfeasors breach their duty of care if their behavior is below the standard of care. If a tortfeasor has a hard time seeing oncoming traffic for whatever reason, the tortfeasor should slow down and be more careful, not speed up and hope for the best.
  • Cause: Poor visibility, poor weather, and other such external conditions often contribute to car crashes. Driver error causes these wrecks. Victim/plaintiffs must also prove foreseeability (possibility) of injury. A crash is a foreseeable consequence of reckless driving.
  • Damages: The compensation in a motorcycle crash claim usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Victim/plaintiffs must prove all these elements by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Evidence in a motorcycle wreck claim usually includes a combination of the police accident report, witness statements, and medical bills.

Possible Defenses

Generally, motorcycle riders see vehicles pulling out in front of them at the very last instant. Insurance company lawyers often try to use this fact to invoke the last clear chance defense.

According to this obscure legal principle, the party with the last clear chance to avoid a wreck, which in this case is the motorcycle rider, is the party that’s legally responsible for damages.

There’s a big difference between the last clear chance and any possible chance. As mentioned, riders sometimes have a split second before impact. However, if they make sudden moves, they usually lose control of their bikes. Additionally, these wrecks often happen so fast that the rider doesn’t have a reasonable amount of time to do anything.

The motorcycle helmet defense is also common in these claims. If the victim wasn’t wearing a helmet, the insurance company may be able to reduce the victim’s compensation. This defense only applies in very limited situations.

Count on a Tough-Minded Richland County Lawyer

Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Columbia, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.


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Marc Brown

Marc Brown Law Firm

Meet Attorney Marc Brown

Marc Brown is an experienced personal injury and civil rights attorney serving clients throughout South Carolina and Georgia. Marc is motivated by the challenge of helping his clients solve their complex legal issues, and most importantly, he obtains favorable results. He is a caring and conscientious attorney who brings the experience and resources of a larger firm to his smaller, more personalized practices in Sumter and Columbia, SC.

A Personable & Dedicated South Carolina Attorney

As someone who has always had a keen sense of right and wrong and a desire to achieve excellence and fairness in all things, pursuing law was a natural career choice. After graduating with honors from the prestigious Emory University School of Law, Marc went on to become a dedicated litigator who focuses on personal injury, workers’ compensation, and criminal defense cases.

Why Choose Us?

Choosing an attorney is a very important decision, but it can be difficult. When you choose the Marc Brown Law Firm, we do everything we can to keep you informed, put your needs first, and to make sure justice is served. Here are just a few reasons to choose us:

The Right Experience

Attorney Marc Brown has experience that matters. Prior to opening this law firm, Marc spent nearly a half a decade defending big insurance companies and large corporations in personal injury and commercial litigation matters across the United States. Marc knows exactly how insurance companies and corporations evaluate claims and what they look at when deciding to increase the amount they are willing to pay. He thinks outside the box to find additional or hidden opportunities for favorable results.

We’ll Come To You

After being injured in a serious accident, you need to focus on getting better. Serious accidents can be hard on an individual, physically and emotionally. The Marc Brown Law Firm is dedicated to fight for you while you recover. If you are unable to travel to our office for any reason, we will personally visit you! Just give us a call to talk whenever you may be in need of assistance. We’re here to help.

Clients First

At the Marc Brown Law Firm, we choose to put our clients first. Our clients are more than just a case number. We think of each of our clients as extended members of the family. We make sure to inform our clients of all their legal options and provide timely updates throughout the life their case.

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We are available around the clock for our clients. If at any point we are unavailable, we promise to promptly respond to all messages within hours.


We work hard so that our clients receive the justice they deserve! When necessary, Attorney Marc Brown retains investigators, engineers, and other experts to help prove your case. Insurance companies are big, but Marc is experienced and resourceful. We fight for each of our clients so that you can receive the maximum compensation available to you.

No Fees Unless We Win

We work on a contingency fee basis, which means there are no upfront cost to clients. You only pay lawyer fees when we win your case. This also means that your attorney is only paid a percentage of what is recovered for you. The Marc Brown Law Firm has a vested interest in ensuring that each of our clients receive the maximum recovery available to them. We are determined to fight tirelessly to recover for you.

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