Types of Recreational Boating Accidents in South Carolina and What Causes Them

total boating accidents, injuries, and death in SC statsBoating accident injuries are often preventable. While boats are generally safe, inexperienced or intoxicated operators are not. To that end, some of the most common types of recreational boating accidents that lead to injury or death on our lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water include:

  • Collisions with a structure or another boat
  • Capsizing
  • Passengers or operators falling overboard, particularly without life vests
  • Sinking
  • Fires and explosions onboard

And these crashes are often caused by negligent boaters that employ dangerous boating practices, including:

  • Excessive speed
  • Boating under the influence
  • Improper lookout
  • Operator inattention
  • Operator inexperience


Standing Up to the Insurance Company After a Boat Crash

When safety precautions are not taken and someone has been hurt on the water, the question becomes, “Who is going to take responsibility?” Although liability insurance is available to boaters in South Carolina, it is not required. If the driver of the boat that caused the accident has insurance, his/her insurer will bear the financial burden when someone has been hurt, killed, or suffered damaged property on the water. If the boater is uninsured, a personal injury attorney may be able to help you identify other sources of recovery so you can make a claim for compensation. 

Even if the boater does have insurance, the claims process is rarely an easy one. Whether it’s coverage for a home, automobile, or recreational boat, the one thing that all insurance companies have in common is this: they don’t make money by paying out claims. Insurance companies often fight tooth and nail to use every exclusion, trick, or excuse to avoid paying the full amount on a claim.

You may need the services of a South Carolina boat accident attorney to help you fight the insurance giants and receive the compensation the law says you’re owed.


Charts showing boating accidents and deaths over the past 5 years in SC

Seeking Compensation After Being Injured on Boat

Due to the catastrophic nature of most boat collisions, a common issue is often the lack of sufficient insurance coverage to pay for all your losses. While the boat that contributed to your injury may have liability coverage, it may not be enough to “make you whole” financially. In addition to liability coverage, you may be able to seek recovery from additional insurance policies such as:

  • Underinsured coverage – If it is included in your boating insurance policy, or the policy covering the boat you were on at the time of the accident, you may be able to obtain “underinsured” coverage funds. Underinsured policies are used when the at fault person has boating insurance, but not have enough to fully cover all your damages. For example, if you had $200,000 in medical bills, but the at fault boater only had a $100,000 policy, you could seek recovery from an underinsured policy to help make up the difference.
  • Uninsured coverage - If the other boater has no insurance, you can file a claim against the uninsured boat policy covering the vessel you were on when the incident occurred to recover compensation for your damages.
  • Homeowner’s insurance – Some homeowner’s insurance policies allow you to file a claim for boating accidents. A South Carolina boat accident lawyer can help you determine if the at fault person has a homeowner’s insurance policy that you can draw from to help cover your damages.


Filing a Negligence Suit For a Boating Accident in South Carolina

In order to get fair compensation after a boating accident, you may have to file a lawsuit. The hope is always that an insurance company will settle your case without need of litigation, but that isn’t always the case. In a legal setting, we must prove the at fault boat operator was negligent. The basis of any negligence lawsuit is that the accused person did not act with a reasonable amount of care, and that his or her action (or inaction) caused an accident that resulted in damage or injury. An example of negligence might be when someone does not follow accepted boating laws or practices, such as:

  • Failure to maintain a lookout for hazards or other dangerous conditions that could result in an accident
  • Failure to yield right-of-way according to maritime rules
  • Failure to possess or maintain adequate safety equipment or flotation devices
  • Failure to obey no-wake zones and idle-speed-only rules
  • Operating recklessly and without regard to safety, including boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol


Speak with a Columbia Boating Accident Lawyer to Protect Your Rights

The number one tip for protecting your legal rights after this type of accident is to contact an experienced South Carolina boating accident lawyer – even for a free consultation. Don’t give a statement to insurance companies or speak to adjusters until you’ve consulted with an attorney. Remember, insurance companies are not in the business of paying out claims, and if they can spin your words to reduce the amount of your claim, they will.

Dealing with boating injury claims and insurance companies is a skill that’s only developed through experience. When you’ve been in an accident on the water, you need to find an injury attorney that you can trust to properly apply the law and level the playing field against the insurance companies.

At the Law Office of Kenneth Berger, we have the experienced team you need. We are ready to protect your legal rights while treating you as a member of our own family. With offices in Columbia, SC and Myrtle Beach, SC, we are able to represent people across our state who have been hurt through no fault of their own on the water. Call us today at 803-790-2800 to receive a free consultation, or use our live chat box and our legal team will reach out and begin answering your questions.

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Kenneth Berger
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Columbia and Myrtle Beach car accident and personal injury lawyer dedicated to securing justice for clients.