With so many beautiful beaches and lakes in South Carolina, boating is a popular activity amongst residents and visitors, especially during the summer months. While a very fun activity and pastime during sunny days, even the safest boat drivers can risk being in an accident.
Unlike accidents on dry land, emergency medical care is not readily available on the water, you have the added risk of drowning, and there is not as much coverage on boats as say an enclosed vehicle. For these reasons, and many more, when boating accidents do happen, they can lead to very serious injuries and even loss of life. Devastatingly, in 2022, there were 152 reported boating accidents in our state, with 22 fatalities.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or lost their life in a boating accident, we are so sorry. In our experience, the aftermath of a boating accident is not easy. Typically, the insurance companies will not make the recovery process simple for you, often offering much less than you deserve. If you’d like to get an experienced attorney to answer any questions you may have or help you understand your rights under South Carolina law, we’re here for you. Simply give our office a call at (803) 888-2200 or submit our online form and our team will reach out to you.
Common Causes of Boat Accidents
With more and more people on the water, the number of boating accidents is also rising. Here are some of the common causes of boat accidents that we see:
- Distracted Driving
- Driving Under the Influence
- Poor Weather Conditions
- Inexperienced Drivers
- Overloaded Boats
- Violating Navigation Rules
- Reckless Driving
- Improper Lookout
- Mechanical Failure
- Collisions between boats
- Collisions between swimmers/kayakers/jet skiers and boat
- Falling overboard
Compensation After a SC Boat Accident
An attorney can help make sure you are compensated for past, present, and future damages resulting from the boat accident. This can include:
- Medical expenses and related costs
- Lost wages and benefits
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering, and
- Other related expenses
If your loved one passed away from their injuries, you may qualify to file a wrongful death claim. In these circumstances, we will work with you and your family to receive coverage for:
- Medical bills
- Funeral costs
- Burial costs
- Loss of services
- Intangible losses, and
- Other related expenses
What To Do Following a Boat Accident
Accidents, even on the water, are unpredictable. It’s important to know what to do in case of an emergency so you’re best prepared.
1. Seek medical attention.
Whether you feel fine or have clear injuries, your first step should always be seeking medical attention by a professional. Even if you feel fine following a boat crash, there could be underlying issues. A common example of this is concussions. After an accident, adrenaline can take over and you may not realize you’ve been injured. This is why getting medical attention should always be step 1.
2. Document the accident.
If possible, following the accident, try to document as much as you can related to the crash. This may include photos of the scene, photos/videos of the boat’s current condition including any damages, photos/videos of the injury(ies) of those involved, and write down anything else you can remember. What was the weather like? What time was it? Documenting these factors and any other relevant circumstances will help you recall important information later on.
3. Report the accident to DNR
In South Carolina, you must report any boating accident that results in more than $500 in property damage and/or causes injury or death. To report a SC boat accident, please visit the DNR’s website.
4. Contact Your Insurance Company
Next, contact your insurance company to report the accident and understand your coverage.
Did you know: it is not required under South Carolina law to obtain boaters insurance?
If you have any questions about how the insurance claims process works following a boating accident, please contact our office.
5. Hire an Attorney
It’s always a great idea to at least attend a free consultation with an experienced boat accident attorney following a boat crash. An attorney can help you understand how much you may be able to receive in compensation under state law based on the specifics of your case, explain the claims process to you, and much more.
How Will a Boat Accident Attorney Help?
If you or a loved one has been affected by a boat accident, our South Carolina legal team is here to help. Should you retain our law firm, you can expect our team to:
- Manage all communication relating to the accident to protect your rights.
- Update you regularly about where in the process we are and what to expect next.
- Answer your questions, and let you know which questions you should be asking.
- Investigate the accident to prove negligence through research, interviews, and much more.
- Identify and prove liability.
- Prove your past, current, and future damages.
- Value your past, current, and future expenses and losses.
- Optimize your claim to get you the maximum of what you’re owed under South Carolina law.
Other Frequently Asked Questions:
Who can operate a boat in SC?
In SC, adults do not need a boating license to operate a boat. In fact, anyone over the age of 16 can operate most boats without a boater education card. If you are under 16 years old and plan to operate a boat with 15 horsepower or more, you must obtain and carry a SC Boater Education Card.
Of course, it is best practice to take a boater education course or otherwise familiarize yourself with how to safely operate any watercraft before placing yourself or others in danger.
Can you drink alcohol while driving a boat?
It is not illegal to drink an alcoholic beverage while operating a boat in South Carolina; however, it is against the law to operate your boat while under the influence of alcohol. This means you cannot drive a boat if the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed materially and appreciably impairs your ability to operate the vessel. Obviously, the safest and smartest course of action is to abstain from drinking alcohol while operating a boat, but it is not necessarily against the law to do so.