Boating accidents frequently happen in Myrtle Beach and can cause victims to suffer long-term injuries or death, leaving people and families confused about what steps they need to take next. Our law firm is here to navigate the legal and insurance issues, so you and your family can focus on what matters most – healing and moving forward.
Our lawyers are dedicated to making Myrtle Beach and all of South Carolina safer by holding wrongdoers accountable for the harm they cause. We will walk beside you every step of the way to ensure your legal rights are protected. If you or someone you care about have suffered injuries in a boating crash, you are not alone. Call us or start a live chat below to see how we can help.
Boating Accident Statistics
According to the United States Coast Guard, 626 people died and 2,613 were injured in boating wrecks in 2015. Other findings included:
- Drowning accounted for 76 percent of all fatalities
- 71 percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had not received any safety instruction
- 17 percent of all boating accident deaths involved alcohol use—the leading single factor in fatalities.
What Is Causing So Many Boat Crashes in Myrtle Beach?
You must show that a boat operator’s negligence caused your injuries from a boat crash in order to receive justice. This could involve the boat operator's breaching the duty of care required to keep you safe, or a separate violation of maritime laws. Common reasons preventable accidents occur on waterways in Myrtle Beach and throughout South Carolina, include:
- Inattention. Boat operators are required to remain attentive at all times to their driving, the boat, weather conditions, and other hazards ahead.
- Improper lookout. When there is no lookout, or the lookout person is not vigilantly watching for hazards and obstacles in the water, accidents happen.
- Inexperience. Operator inexperience is one of the top causes of boating accidents. Operators need to know not only the rules of how to operate the boat, but also must be trained in how to handle emergencies—often life-threatening.
- Speeding. Just like with vehicle drivers, boat operators can lose control of their boat or be unable to respond quickly, resulting in collisions.
- Impaired driving. Operating a boat while intoxicated impairs operators’ driving skills. It reduces their reaction time, makes them drowsy, and can result in risky decisions.
- Equipment problems. Going out in a boat that has not been properly maintained or needs repairs can be a recipe for a life-threatening emergency while on the water.
- Navigational rule violations. Navigational rules are similar to the rules of the road we must follow when driving. An operator who violates one of these rules can crash into another boat, run into land, strike a dock, or hit other docked boats.
- Dangerous waters. Water can turn dangerous very suddenly. While some conditions cannot be anticipated, many can. Boat operators should not take passengers on the water during these times.
- Overcrowding. Overcrowding the boat can cause the boat to take in water, sink, capsize, or get into other emergency situations that put passengers and the crew in serious danger of drowning. Even more frightening, some recreational boat operators do not have sufficient life jackets or rafts to protect passengers in these situations.
How Should You Respond To A Boat Accident?
If you’ve been involved in a boat accident, here are some important steps you should take to ensure all passengers’ safety:
- Administer medical care. Your top priority after any boating accident should be making sure everyone on board receives medical attention. If necessary, utilize the boat’s emergency kit for any minor injuries. You should immediately call 911 if any passenger has suffered a serious, potentially life-threatening injury.
- Contact authorities. Call 911 as soon as possible so the nearest emergency service providers can come to your aid, whether it is local law enforcement, the Coast Guard, or other local marine police.
- Gather information and evidence. Once you have made sure everyone has received medical attention and is safe, try to document the scene of the accident if possible. Take pictures (of both the damage to the boat and anyone’s injuries), talk with eyewitnesses, and obtain the contact information of everyone involved in the accident.
What Type of Report Must Be Filed If There Is An Accident While Boating In Myrtle Beach?
Under federal and state law, a boat operator may be required to file an accident report depending on the circumstances of the incident. Federal law requires a boat accident to be formally reported if the accident results in:
- Loss of life
- The disappearance of anyone involved
- Medical treatment for anyone involved that goes beyond simple first aid
- Damage to the vessel or property that equals or exceeds $2,000
- Complete loss/destroyal of the vessel
You will likely also need to file a report with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, which is responsible for regulating boating within the state. You should only include the objective facts of the accident in your report. Try not to include any details about why you think the accident may have happened, who is responsible, etc. as this could potentially affect your case later.
If you are a boat owner or operator, it is important to know the strict timeline you must adhere to if an accident occurs. According to federal law, a boat owner or operator must file a report with the state reporting authority:
- Within 48 hours if an accident results in a death within 24 hours, any serious injuries that require medical attention beyond first aid, or the disappearance of a person in a way that indicates death or severe injury
- Within 10 days if an accident causes more than $2,000 of property damage/complete loss of the vessel or a person dies more than 24 hours after the accident
Whether you’re a boat owner, operator, or passenger, knowing the maritime laws for your state is an important part of keeping everyone safe and accountable for their actions. Boat accident claims can get complicated quickly and an experienced personal injury attorney can help you hold the at-fault parties responsible by seeking a full, fair settlement.
What Can Be Done Legally After a Boating Accident?
After a boating accident, all responsible parties should be held accountable to cover any losses caused by the crash. Those damages may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, lost enjoyment of life, property damage, and possibly punitive damages, if the at fault party was grossly negligent (example: boating under the influence).
Even though South Carolina does not require recreational boaters to carry boating insurance, most individuals have some sort of policy that should apply to the accident. Even if the boat is not insured, many people purchase what is known as an umbrella policy with their homeowner’s insurance, and these umbrella policies can be used as a source of recovery for people injured in boating crashes.
Likewise, if you were hurt as a customer of one of Myrtle Beach’s many recreational boating companies, like a cruise or a kayak or jet ski rental, the company should have a commercial insurance policy to cover your damages.
Regardless of whether you were injured in a recreational or commercial boating accident, you must prove that your injuries were caused by the at fault party’s recklessness or negligence to receive a fair outcome. A Myrtle Beach injury lawyer can help you with your case by securing evidence, identifying all available sources of recovery, negotiating with insurance adjusters, and if necessary, taking your case to trial and sharing your story with a jury.
Talk with an Experience Myrtle Beach Boating Accident Lawyer Today
If a serious injury or death has occurred due to a boating crash, you need an experienced attorney who understands personal injury and maritime law to assist you in holding the negligent parties responsible for what they have done. Call our legal team at the Law Office of Kenneth Berger at 843-427-2800 to schedule a free consultation and learn about your legal options. You may also start a live chat 24/7 for immediate assistance.