Life can change in an instant. A simple ride to school or work can turn deadly in a matter of moments when someone else is not paying attention or driving carefully.
For instance, a 33-year-old North Charleston man was recently struck and killed while riding his bicycle on I-26. The bicyclist was riding in the eastbound direction when he was struck by a car that was travelling in the same direction. The man, who was not wearing a helmet at the time of the incident, died at the scene from the injuries he suffered in the early morning crash.
Cases like the above illustrate how precious life can be, and how quickly circumstances can change when a
fatal accident occurs. In these tragic incidences, the family who lost a loved one may have some recourse against the person responsible for the crash in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit.
A successful wrongful death action can provide compensation to surviving family members if it can be shown that someone else's negligence caused the death of the loved one. A variety of damages may be available, including compensation for lost income, loss of companionship, medical expenses, and funeral costs.
However, there can be legal issues that arise in the course of these lawsuits, as is the case with other negligence cases. For example, when a person does not wear a helmet and is injured or killed in a crash, questions can arise as to what role the lack of helmet played in the matter. Complicating matters more is the fact that some states have mandatory helmet laws, particularly for motorcycle riders, which impose a duty on those persons to wear a helmet while they ride.
In some cases, the injured person's nonuse of a helmet, seatbelt, or other safety gear can constitute contributory negligence on the part of the injured person. This means the injured person might be held to be partly at fault for his or her injuries. Contributory negligence by the injured person does not necessarily eliminate the possibility of compensatory recovery from the other negligent party, but it could reduce the amount of damages the injured party receives. This is particularly true when the failure to wear a helmet does not contribute to the accident or the injuries, in which case it generally will not impact the injured person's ability to recover compensation.
Source: Live 5 News, "Coroner identifies bicyclist killed in I-26 accident," Suzelle Santos, Sep. 20, 2016