Going out on the water in a boat can be a fun and relaxing way to spend a few hours or the day. However, a day of fun can turn into a deadly nightmare if you are the victim of a boating accident. Sadly, boating accidents happen frequently and can cause victims to suffer long-term injuries or death. According to the United States Coast Guard, 626 people died and 2,613 were injured in boating accidents in 2015. Other findings included:
- Drowning accounted for 76 percent of all fatalities, and 85 percent of the victims were not wearing a life jacket.
- 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 contributing factor in fatalities.
What Types of Boating Experiences Can People Have in Myrtle Beach?
Recreational activities on the water are popular with residents of Myrtle Beach and the many people who come here to visit. There are numerous types of recreational boats to choose from and fun things to do with these boats. Some of these recreational vessels and activities where accidents can occur include:
- Power boats—used for water skiing, fishing, tubing, and more
- Jet skis
- Pedal boats
- Paddle boats
- Pontoon boats
- Electric boats
- Deep sea fishing boats
- Casino boats
- Dolphin and whale watching tours
- River boat tours
How Do Boat Operators Cause Boat Accidents?
You must show that a boat operator’s negligence caused your injuries from a boat accident 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 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 condition, and debris and other hazards ahead. Given the unpredictability of the weather and the dangers these other potential problems can pose, paying attention at all times is essential.
- Improper lookout. When there is no lookout or the lookout person is not vigilantly watching for hazards and obstacles in the water, a disastrous accident could be the consequence.
- 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 and navigate it, but also must be trained in how to handle emergencies—often life-threatening. Many tragic deaths occur when boat drivers fail to know what to do.
- Speeding. Just like with vehicle drivers, boat operators can lose control of their boat or be unable to respond quickly—with a boat accident the consequence.
- Impaired driving. Again, operating a boat while intoxicated impairs operators’ driving skills. It reduces their reaction time, impairs their overall driving skills, makes them drowsy, and can result in making risky and poor decisions that cause accidents.
- 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—more common than people may think—or run into the land, a dock and the people on it, or other docked boats.
- Dangerous waters. Water can turn dangerous very suddenly. While some cannot be anticipated, many can, and tour operators and other boat operators should not take passengers on the water during these times.
- Weather conditions. It can be even more dangerous than driving to operate a boat on the water when weather conditions are bad. A life-threatening situation can quickly develop that can endanger everyone on board at a time when rescue boats may not be able to come to the boat’s assistance.
- High waves. Large and high waves can be difficult to navigate, especially for an inexperienced or untrained operator. In addition, speeding through high waves can be extremely dangerous and cause the operator to lose control of his boat.
- 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 for these terrifying situations.
What are the top ways that boat accidents happen? The U.S. Coast Guard reported that the following are the top causes of these accidents:
- Improper lookout
- Boat machinery failures
- Excessive speeding
If a serious injury or death has occurred due to a boating accident, you need an experienced attorney who understands personal injury and maritime law to assist you in holding the negligent party responsible for what they have done. Call our legal team at the Law Office of Kenneth Berger at 843-800-0911 to schedule a free consultation and learn about your legal options.