Longitudinal Joint Motorcycle Accident Injuries and Lawsuits
Motorcyclists face many hazards when they operate their bikes on roads in South Carolina. In addition to dangers posed by other motorists, people who ride on motorcycles are also more susceptible to injuries in accidents caused by roadway debris and poor road conditions. One type of hazard for motorcyclists is a longitudinal joint in the pavement. While motorists in vehicles can handle joints without too much difficulty, they can be dangerous for motorcyclists. Unlike other types of motor vehicles, motorcycles only have two wheels and can easily be thrown off track by ruts in the roads.
What is a longitudinal joint?
Longitudinal or lengthwise joints are cracks that can happen between adjacent lanes after they are asphalted. Frequently in South Carolina, these joints occur when road construction companies take shortcuts during road resurfacing or construction projects. According to the engineering department at Purdue University, these joints are caused when companies asphalt single lanes of highways at a time because both lanes cannot be asphalted simultaneously. The area between the two applications of the hot-mix asphalt can turn into lengthwise ruts or cracks as time passes. The difference between the two asphalted areas’ plasticity and temperature can cause joints to form because of improper bonding. When lengthwise cracks later emerge, they allow water to enter, causing further damage and a rougher surface. When an asphalted lane is allowed to cool to less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit before the adjacent lane is asphalted, the resulting area in between the two paved sections will be weaker than the adjacent areas. When the road is reopened to traffic, the pressure on the jointed area will cause it to quickly deteriorate and form a rut or crack running lengthwise in the road. Water, oil, and debris can accumulate in the rut or crack, posing dangers to people operating motorcycles. Other causes of lengthwise cracks include height differences caused by poor compacting of the edges during construction. Cracks or ruts may also form when construction crews improperly overlap asphalt between lanes. Residual stress from traffic and weather can accelerate the formation of these cracks.
Why lengthwise joints are dangerous for motorcyclists
Cars, trucks, and SUVs have four or more wheels, which provides them with greater stability. When a passenger vehicle’s tires drive over a lengthwise crack, the vehicle’s other two tires provide enough stability to prevent the driver from losing control of the vehicle. By contrast, a motorcycle only has two wheels and requires the rider to use their balance to keep the bike from crashing. When motorcycles run over lengthwise ruts or cracks in the roads, the riders can lose control and suffer accidents. They might lose control because of the height difference between the adjacent asphalted pavement and the crack or because of losing contact with the road caused by oil, water, or debris accumulated in it. In some cases involving a single bike accident, the motorcyclist may not understand what caused him or her to wreck.
Types of injuries that can be caused by lengthwise joint accidents
When a South Carolina motorcyclist has an accident caused by joints in the road, he or she might lose control of the bike and collide with adjacent vehicles. A motorcyclist may also be thrown from the bike or be crushed by it as it falls over and skids across the pavement. These types of accidents can cause serious injuries, including the following:
- Road rash
- Degloving inuries
- Broken legs, feet, arms, and hands
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head, neck, and facial injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Abdominal injuries
- Internal injuries
- Serious lacerations
- Internal bleeding
When only the motorcyclist is involved in the accident, he or she might not understand who is at fault and may be confused about what happened. If the crash occurred because of the negligence of the parties involved in the construction process, several entities may be liable to the injured victims.
Potentially liable parties
When a lengthwise crack is caused because of poor construction practices, multiple parties may be liable. Some of the entities that might be at fault include the city where the road is located, the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the South Carolina Department of Construction and Planning, the private construction companies involved in the project, contractors, and subcontractors. Determining which parties are responsible for proximately or directly causing a lengthwise road crack and a resulting injury motorcycle accident is important. Under S.C. Code Ann. § 15-38-15, South Carolina follows a comparative negligence rule. When an accident is caused by the actions of multiple parties, juries apportion the fault between them by assigning percentages. Each liable party will then be responsible for paying the percentage of the total damages that represent the fault allocated to it by the jury. For example, if the state is found to be 30% at fault, it will be responsible for paying 30% of the total verdict awarded to the injured plaintiff. If the plaintiff fails to name one of the liable parties as a defendant in the civil complaint, however, he or she will not be able to recover the percentage of fault the jury allocates to that party. Carefully investigating this type of accident can help to identify each party that contributed to the formation of the crack and the resulting accident and injuries. This can help motorcycle accident victims to recover full compensation for the losses they have suffered as a result.
Importance of investigation
Without a thorough investigation, a plaintiff might fail to identify some of the parties that should be named as defendants and reduce their potential recoveries as a result. After an accident, an investigation is a key to determining liability. An experienced attorney might work with accident reconstruction experts, road construction and design experts, and others to determine exactly what happened during the accident and the road construction project. With the help of these and other types of experts, insurance companies and juries are much likelier to understand the liability of the defendants and be more willing to find in the plaintiff’s favor or extend a reasonable offer in settlement. The attorneys at The Lovely Law Firm complete in-depth investigations following motorcycling accidents to figure out the parties that are at fault. The lawyers regularly retain investigators and experts to help them build clear cases of liability to present to the various insurance companies that might be involved. By taking this approach, we are often able to negotiate fair settlement offers that help to ensure our clients receive full compensation for all of their losses.
Types of recoverable damages
The value of your case will depend on several factors, including the severity of your injuries, your likelihood of recovering, and others. Since these factors vary from a, an attorney can’t provide you with a quote over the phone for how much your case might be worth. Instead, your lawyer will need to evaluate the different factors and circumstances to value your case. The monetary damages that might be available to you include two types of compensatory damages, including damages for your economic losses and damages for your non-economic losses. Special damages are damages for the economic losses suffered by negligence victims. These types of damages include the following:
- Past medical expenses
- Future expected medical treatment costs
- Past rehabilitation expenses
- Ongoing and future rehabilitation costs
- Past and future wage losses
- Property losses
- Final expenses in wrongful death claims
- Lost inheritance rights in wrongful death claims
- Loss of the income a deceased victim would have likely earned over his or her life if he or she had not been killed
General damages are amounts that are meant to compensate negligence victims for their non-economic losses and can be more difficult to calculate. Some of these include the following types:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional or psychological trauma
- Reduced ability to enjoy life
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of consortium for spouses
- Loss of guidance for children of deceased victims
An experienced attorney can help to calculate the different types of damages that you might be eligible to receive to arrive at a rough estimate of what you might expect to receive in a fair settlement offer.
Contact The Lovely Law Firm for help from an experienced injury lawyer
If you were seriously injured in a single bike accident and are unsure of what happened, it may have been caused by lengthwise joints in the road. While this type of case may require extensive investigation to determine liability, you could potentially be entitled to recover substantial damages for your losses. To learn more about your rights and to receive a free claim evaluation, contact the attorneys at The Lovely Law Firm by calling us at 843.281.7205.
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