If you're reading this article, you or someone you know may have been injured on a boat in South Carolina. Alternatively, your loved one or a family member may have been hurt or killed on a boat in South Carolina. You may need the help of a South Carolina boat accident lawyer, and this article will help you understand some of the complexities surrounding boat accidents within the state. We will also talk about how the increase in boating activity has created a rise in accidents, which makes it essential for folks to be aware of potential hazards and legal recourse available.
In this article, we will delve into popular boating destinations across South Carolina and discuss factors contributing to the growth of this leisurely pastime. We'll also examine recent statistics on boat accident rates in South Carolina and identify high-risk areas prone to incidents.
Furthermore, we'll explore common causes of boat accidents such as alcohol consumption and weather-related factors that affect navigation safety. Additionally, we'll outline typical injuries sustained during these unfortunate events along with their severity levels and long-term consequences.
Lastly, our experienced South Carolina boat accident lawyers will provide valuable insights on wrongful death cases following fatal boat accidents. By understanding your rights and options after a tragic incident like this one can help ease some of the burden during difficult times.
The Exploding Growth of Boating in South Carolina
South Carolina offers a beautiful coastline (the best in the country), numerous lakes, and some incredible rivers. People are finding out about this beauty and moving into South Carolina, and this has led to more recreational and commercial boating activities in the state. People are getting out on the water every day to enjoy the boating, fishing, and jet-skiing. With popular destinations like Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Charleston, and Lake Murray attracting countless visitors each year, it's no wonder that the Palmetto State is experiencing a boom in its boating industry.
Why So Many Boaters in South Carolina?
The growth of recreational and commercial boating in South Carolina can be attributed to a booming growth in population. That's the obvious factor. But, there several other factors contributing to the increase in boaters, including:
- Economic Growth: South Carolina has a thriving economy that has brought about more disposable income for many residents, which has provided more opportunities for leisure activities like boating and jet skiing.
- Tourism: South Carolina is a major spot for tourists in the United States, and it attracts millions of visitors each year who want to explore its waterways on boats, jet skis, or personal watercrafts. Many of these tourists rent boats, kayaks, and jet skis.
- Favorable Climate: With mild winters and warm summers, South Carolina's climate is ideal for year-round boating adventures - a significant draw for both locals and tourists alike.
In response to this growing demand, numerous marinas have been developed throughout the state. These facilities offer essential services such as boat storage, fueling stations, repair shops, and rental options catering specifically towards recreational users. Additionally, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) offers various educational programs aimed at promoting safe boating practices among new enthusiasts entering the activity.
Statistics on Recent Boat Accident Rates in South Carolina
According to data from the U.S. Coast Guard's Recreational Boating Statistics Report for 2020, there were a total of 153 reported boating accidents in South Carolina that year, resulting in 25 fatalities. This is a big jump in boat accidents compared to previous years. For instance, there were only 13 reported boat accident deaths back in 2017. The increase in deaths is concerning given that more people are participating in water-based activities within the state.
High-Risk Areas Prone to Accidents
To better understand the increasing rate of boat accidents, it is necessary to identify areas with a higher likelihood of such incidents occurring, such as Lake Murray, Hilton Head, May River in Bluffton, Lake Marion, and Charleston Harbor. South Carolina's top boating spots, have experienced an abundance of accidents due to their popularity and the amplified number of vessels present. This makes sense right? The more people out in boats, the more accidents that are likely to occur.
However, it's not as simple as the number of boaters. One of the main reasons a South Carolina boat accident lawyer gets called into action is because these folks drink and drive, or a jet ski rental company hands the keys to a kid who has inadequate training and no understanding of how to operate a boat. Below are some beautiful but dangers spots due to negligent and reckless boaters on the water:
- Lake Murray: As one of the largest lakes in South Carolina with over 500 miles of shoreline, it is no surprise that this area sees a higher rate of boating accidents. The lake is absolutely full of boaters, especially on the weekends, and this contributes to its heightened risk level.
- Lake Marion: This vast reservoir is part of the Santee Cooper lake system and attracts many recreational boaters throughout the year. With numerous marinas along its shores providing access points for boats, there is an increased likelihood for collisions or other accidents on this body of water.
- Charleston Harbor: As a bustling commercial port city with rich maritime history, Charleston Harbor has long been a hub for both recreational and commercial vessels. However, heavy traffic from cargo ships combined with pleasure craft can create hazardous conditions leading to potential accidents.
- Hilton Head Island: HHI is known for its gorgeous beaches and world-class golf courses. In addition, this cozy little island offers excellent opportunities for boaters looking to explore the May River and other fun spots on the Atlantic Ocean.
- Lake Murray: Located near Columbia, this expansive lake provides plenty of space for recreational boaters to enjoy watersports like wakeboarding or tubing while taking in picturesque views of surrounding forests.
- Murrells Inlet: A historic fishing village turned tourist hotspot on the Grand Strand coast; Murrells Inlet is home to a thriving saltwater marsh ecosystem teeming with wildlife - perfect for nature lovers seeking tranquility on their boat excursions.
- Charleston Harbor: Rich in history and beauty, Charleston Harbor is a must-visit for boaters who want to experience the charm of the Lowcountry. Navigate past iconic landmarks like Fort Sumter and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, or explore nearby waterways like the Ashley and Cooper Rivers.
- Lake Jocassee: Lake Jocassee has some beautiful, crystal-clear water and spectacular views.
- Lake Keowee: This is a popular destination for boating enthusiasts because there's over 300 miles of shoreline and numerous recreational areas with calm waters that are perfect for kayaking, sailing, and paddleboarding.
- Waccamaw River: The Waccamaw River flows right through the heart of South Carolina's Lowcountry. It offers a serene boating experience surrounded by cypress swamps and moss-draped oaks. The river is part of the Intracoastal Waterway, which makes it a great location for fishing.
- Folly Beach: Located just a short drive from Charleston, Folly Beach offers boaters easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Folly River. With a laid-back atmosphere and beautiful natural surroundings, it's an ideal spot for boating, fishing, and wildlife watching.
- Beaufort River: The Beaufort River gives boaters a chance to explore South Carolina's Lowcountry, while taking in the charming scenery of historic Beaufort. Boaters can enjoy views of antebellum homes, marshlands, and picturesque islands as you navigate this beautiful waterway.
- Congaree River: Flowing through South Carolina's capital city of Columbia, the Congaree River provides a unique urban boating experience. Paddle along the river's calm waters and take in the sights of downtown Columbia, or venture further to explore the diverse flora and fauna of the Congaree National Park.
- Edisto River: Not everybody knows this, but the Edisto River is one of the longest free-flowing blackwater rivers in the world. It winds through dense forests and swampy wetlands, which gives boaters an opportunity to have a truly unique experience.
- Santee Cooper Lakes (Lake Marion & Lake Moultrie): As South Carolina's largest freshwater lake system, the Santee Cooper Lakes are a premier destination for boating, fishing, and watersports. With their vast expanses and intricate network of channels, these lakes offer ample opportunities for exploration and adventure. It's also a hotspot for fishing.
- Kiawah Island: Kiawah has miles of pristine beaches and some beautiful winding tidal creeks. It's a haven for boating enthusiasts. It's also known for its world-class golf courses.
- May River (Bluffton): The May River is located in the charming town of Bluffton, SC, and it gives boaters a chance to experience the tranquility of the South Carolina Lowcountry. The salt marshes, winding creeks, and sand bars make it a uniquely fun spot for boaters.
The increase in boat accident rates across South Carolina highlights the need for greater awareness among all those who take part in water-based activities within the state. It also underscores the importance of seeking legal representation from a South Carolina boat accident lawyer if you or someone you know has been injured or if you lost a loved one due to negligence out on our beautiful waters. Our firm handles boat accidents across South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, and we can help guide victims through every step necessary towards obtaining fair compensation following an unfortunate incident at sea.
Common Causes of Boat Accidents
The beautiful waters of South Carolina attract numerous boating enthusiasts, leading to an increase in both recreational and commercial boating activities. Unfortunately, this has caused an uptick in boating mishaps around the area. For this reason, many folks find themselves in need of a South Carolina boat accident lawyer as medical bills and lost wages pile up.
To better understand these incidents and how they can be prevented, it's essential to examine the common causes behind them. We'll talk more about this below.
Operator Negligence or Error
A significant factor contributing to boat accidents is operator negligence or error. This may include inexperienced operators who lack proper training or those who disregard safety regulations and best practices while on the water. Some examples of operator errors are:
- Failing to maintain a proper lookout for other vessels, swimmers, or obstacles.
- Operating at excessive speeds for given conditions.
- Misjudging distances between boats or objects in the water.
- Inadequate knowledge about navigation rules and local waterways.
Because we deal in negligence and recklessness, operator error is a major reason why injured people call a South Carolina boat accident lawyer.
Equipment Failure & Malfunctioning Navigational Systems
Equipment failure accounts for a significant number of the reported recreational boating accidents nationwide. In some cases, these failures result from manufacturing defects; however, inadequate maintenance by boat owners often plays a role as well. Navigational systems such as GPS devices play a crucial part in ensuring safe travel through unfamiliar waters but can also contribute to accidents if they malfunction due to outdated software updates or technical issues.
Impact of Alcohol Consumption on Accident Risk
An alarming cause behind many boat accidents is alcohol consumption by operators or passengers. The U.S. Coast Guard has reported that drinking and boating is a leading factors in fatal boating accidents, and it accounted for roughly 18% of all deaths on the water in 2020. Alcohol impairs judgment, reaction time, and coordination - all essential skills required to safely operate a boat. Unfortunately, this obvious fact is ignored by a lot of irresponsible boaters every year.
In South Carolina, it's considered drunk driving to operate a boat with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. It's prohibited, and it may result in fines, imprisonment, and suspension of boating privileges. Unfortunately, people seem to think that it's OK to drink and drive on a boat, even when they know it's illegal and extremely dangerous. This type of reckless behavior is a major reason why injured people contact a South Carolina boat accident lawyer.
Weather-Related Factors Affecting Navigation Safety
Poor weather conditions such as fog, heavy rainstorms, or high winds significantly increase the risk of boat accidents by reducing visibility at sea and making navigation more challenging. Operators must be vigilant about monitoring weather forecasts before setting out on their journeys and adjusting their plans accordingly if necessary. Additionally, boaters should reduce speed in rough waters and bad weather conditions.
The National Weather Service provides up-to-date marine forecasts that should be consulted regularly when planning any boating excursion in South Carolina waters. If you find yourself in a situation where a person injured you because he or she was driving too fast for weather conditions, you should consider contacting a South Carolina boat accident lawyer because you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries under the driver's insurance policy or the boat rental company's insurance policy.
Different Types of Boating Accidents & Vessels Involved
The variety of vessels used in recreational and commercial activities across South Carolina contributes to different types of accidents occurring within its waters:
- Collisions between boats: These are among the most common types of incidents involving motorboats, jet skis, or other vessels coming into contact with one another due to operator error or poor visibility caused by adverse weather conditions.
- Capsizing: This occurs when a boat overturns, often due to improper weight distribution or encountering rough waters. Capsizing can lead to passengers being thrown overboard and at risk of drowning.
- Grounding: Grounding accidents happen when a vessel runs aground on rocks, sandbars, or other submerged objects. These incidents can result in severe damage to the boat's hull and potential injuries for those onboard.
Vessels most commonly associated with boating accidents in South Carolina include motorboats, sailboats, kayaks/canoes and PWCs such as jet skis. PWCs are particularly prone to collisions with other boats or fixed objects due to their high speeds and maneuverability. When people contact a South Carolina boat accident lawyer, it's often because a PWC or fast motorized boat was being operated negligently and hurt someone.
5 Things To Do After A Boating Accident
After a boat accident, you should consider contacting a South Carolina boat accident lawyer as soon as possible. However, there are some other steps you can take to ensure your rights, including the following:
- Contact emergency services immediately if anyone is injured or requires assistance.
- Gather information from the people / parties involved in the accident, including names, contact details, and insurance information.
- Gather information of any witnesses to the accident.
- Document the scene by taking photographs of any visible damages sustained by your vessel or others involved in the incident.
- Avoid discussing details of the accident without speaking with your attorney first (Don't post about your boat accident on social media!).
Boating mishaps can arise from a variety of sources, and being aware of the usual triggers can assist mariners in minimizing their hazard. Additionally, it is important to understand the typical injuries sustained in South Carolina boat accidents so that you are prepared if an accident does happen.
Typical Injuries Sustained during South Carolina Boat Accidents
Unfortunately, with the increase in boating activities comes a higher risk for accidents. These types of boat accidents can result in various injuries ranging from minor to severe or even fatal.
When someone contacts a South Carolina boat accident lawyer, the injuries are usually quite severe. They're hurt, they're missing work, and they need help with medical bills for injuries they didn't cause. Understanding these typical injuries is crucial when seeking compensation for damages incurred due to a negligent party's actions.
The Severity of The Various Boat Accident injuries
Injuries sustained during boat accidents can be categorized into different severity levels depending on their impact on the victim's health and well-being:
- Minor Injuries: These include cuts, bruises, sprains, and strains that usually heal within days or weeks without long-term consequences.
- Moderate Injuries: More serious than minor injuries but not life-threatening, a "moderate injury" would includes things like broken bones (excluding spinal fractures), dislocations, deep lacerations requiring stitches or staples, concussions with no lasting effects.
- Serious Injuries: Conditions like a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord damage are not uncommon when a person is struck by another boater or a personal watercraft.
- Fatalities: Tragically some victims do not survive their injuries sustained in boat accidents. Obviously, drowning is one common cause of death among those involved in these incidents.
Wrongful death cases are a common reason why folks reach out to a South Carolina boat accident lawyer after they lose a loved one. Unfortunately, if someone is knocked unconscious in the water, they need saving immediately because they can quickly drown and die. This is a horrific situation, and it happens far too often.
Long-Term Consequences Associated with Specific Boating Injuries
Beyond immediate physical harm caused by an accident at sea or on a lake or river, certain types of injuries may lead to long-lasting complications that significantly affect the quality of life for survivors. Some examples include:
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
A TBI can result from a direct blow to the head or from some sort of whiplash-like motion that causes the brain to bounce around inside the skull. Depending on severity, TBIs can lead to cognitive impairments, emotional disturbances, and other long-term neurological issues.
Spinal Cord Damage
Spinal cord injuries often occur when an individual suffers a fracture or dislocation of vertebrae during a boat accident. These injuries can lead to partial or complete paralysis below the injury site and may require extensive rehabilitation efforts for survivors to regain function and independence.
Survivors of near-drowning incidents may experience hypoxic-ischemic brain injury due to oxygen deprivation during submersion, and this condition has been linked with lasting cognitive deficits such as memory loss and even learning disabilities in some cases. Additionally, drowning-related lung damage could cause chronic respiratory problems for survivors.
In addition to these specific examples, many boat accident victims also suffer from psychological trauma associated with their experiences at sea - post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not uncommon among those who have survived harrowing accidents involving watercraft collisions or capsizing events.
FAQs in Relation to South Carolina Boat Accident Lawyer
Q1: What is the first thing you should do after a boating accident?
A1: The first thing you should do after a boating accident is make sure everyone involved gets the medical attention they need. Check for any injuries and provide first aid if necessary. If someone is severely injured or if the situation appears to be life-threatening, call 911 immediately. After ensuring everyone's safety, exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties involved, and document the accident scene with photos or videos. It's also important to report the accident to the appropriate authorities and consult with a South Carolina boat accident lawyer.
Q2: When should an operator involved in a boating accident report the accident to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources?
A2: Under South Carolina law, the operator of a watercraft involved in an accident must report the accident to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) within 48 hours if there is a death, injury requiring medical treatment beyond first aid, or if there is property damage exceeding $2,000. In cases where the accident results only in the disappearance of a person, the report must be made within 24 hours.
Q3: Which condition requires that you report a boating accident to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources?
A3: You must report a boating accident to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources if any of the following conditions apply: a death occurs, someone is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid, property damage exceeds $2,000, or a person goes missing from a vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury.
Q4: What is the no wake law in South Carolina?
A4: The no wake law in South Carolina refers to the requirement for boaters to operate their vessels at idle speed, producing no wake, within 50 feet of an anchored or moored vessel, wharf, pier, dock, or a person in the water. The no wake law is designed to prevent damage to property, vessels, or personal injury caused by the wake created by boats operating at higher speeds in close proximity to these areas.
Q5: What is a reportable marine incident in South Carolina?
A5: A reportable marine incident in South Carolina is any boating accident that involves a death, injury requiring medical treatment beyond first aid, property damage exceeding $2,000, or the disappearance of a person from a vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury. These incidents must be reported to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Q6: Who investigates marine accidents in South Carolina?
A6: Marine accidents in South Carolina are investigated by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). They have a dedicated team of officers who are responsible for enforcing boating laws, ensuring boater safety, and investigating boating accidents. Other agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard or local law enforcement may also be involved in the accident investigation. The reports made by these agencies could be helpful to you and your South Carolina boat accident lawyer should you decide to pursue a claim.
There is a major increase in the number of boaters in South Carolina every year, and this is leading to an alarming uptick in boating accidents. Due to hazardous factors such as alcohol consumption and adverse weather, boating accidents in South Carolina can cause serious harm or even fatalities. If you or a loved one has been injured on the water in South Carolina, it is crucial to seek the assistance of a skilled South Carolina boat accident lawyer.
Your attorney can help you navigate the legal process and pursue compensation for your damages. At our law firm, we handle wrongful death and personal injury cases that arise from boating accidents. Reach out to us for a free legal consultation and start the journey towards getting just compensation for what you've gone through.
Do You Need Help from a South Carolina Boat Accident Lawyer?
The consequences of a South Carolina boat accident can be far-reaching and potentially devastating, making it essential to seek legal counsel in these types of injury and wrongful death cases. For families that face mounting medical bills or the costs associated with losing a loved one due to negligence, it is critical for those affected by personal injury or wrongful death cases to promptly seek legal advice.
If you've been injured due to the negligence or recklessness of another boater, you should speak with a South Carolina boat accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help guide you through the process of filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the proceedings.
You don't have to face the insurance companies alone. You can contact us online or call our South Carolina line directly at (843) 638-6590 to schedule your free legal consultation. When you contact our firm, you get professional assistance from a South Carolina boat accident lawyer, not a customer service representative or some other legal assistant.
The process is straightforward. Your attorney will work with you to gather evidence supporting your case, including medical records documenting the extent of your injuries and their long-term consequences on your life. Your South Carolina boat accident lawyer can also handle negotiations with insurance companies to ensure you receive a fair settlement for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages you're entitled to
In cases where a wrongful death occurs due to negligence or misconduct by another party during a boating incident in South Carolina waters, surviving family members may be entitled to file claims seeking justice for their loss. A compassionate and driven South Carolina wrongful death attorney can provide invaluable support during this challenging time by helping families navigate complex legal processes while pursuing financial recovery from responsible parties.
If you need a Florida boat accident lawyer, you can call our downtown Orlando, Florida personal injury law firm at (321) 352-7588. We have at least one lawyer licensed in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. So, if you’re hurt in the Southeast, we got you covered.