South Carolina Boat Wreck Attorney
South Carolina has some of the most beautiful waterways in the U.S. From fishing in the Savanah River, to swimming at Myrtle Beach, to skiing on Lake Murray, to having a relaxing pontoon ride on Lake Greenwood, the water can be enjoyable. However, when people break boating laws, fun times are ruined, relaxing days turn into scary moments, and good people get hurt. In situations like these, attorney Andrew Littlejohn Johnson can step in and help.
Main Causes of Boating Wrecks
A multitude of reasons exist for watercraft accidents. Usually, a combination of errors and misjudgments lead to injuries. The most common reasons for these are as follows:
Boater's Lack of Attention – boating operators must be aware of the weather, their own boat, other boats, water hazards (e.g., shallow water, wakes, or debris/stones under the water’s surface), and water conditions
Boat Driver’s Inexperience – boats do not drive like cars; boaters must be able to navigate properly, drive carefully, and understand how their boat operates in both normal and emergency situation
Speeding – operating a boat too fast will delay reaction times to hazards and other boats
Boating Under the Influence (BUI) – as with any machines, operation of a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol is highly dangerous; doing so decreases one’s ability to react to dangers and other hazards
Improper Maintenance – boat owners and operators should ensure their vehicle’s condition is safe prior to voyage, including having the proper equipment (such as life jackets)
Common Boating Injuries
Cervical/Spinal Injuries (e.g., whiplash, strains, herniations, slipped discs, etc.)
Lacerations and Bruising
Death by Drowning
Death by Blunt Force Trauma
South Carolina Boating Laws
In South Carolina, it is illegal to operate a boat under the influence of alcohol. There is a presumption that a boater was driving under the influence if s/he had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. South Carolina criminal laws impose penalties for boating under the influence; however, this doesn’t help people who were already injured by a negligent or reckless boater. Therefore, when you are injured by a boater, we look to the civil laws to determine how best to attack your case.
Your Position: Just like any other personal injury case, we first look to how you are situated: were you a passenger on the boat; were you a driver of another boat; were you a swimming or skiing? This helps us determine what duties were owed to you by the at-fault boater.
Insurance: We next discover what insurance the boater had. Most boaters are insured for any personal injury they cause to other persons while operating their boat. Depending on the coverage language, this usually extends to drivers who the owner permitted to operate the boat.
Civil Liability: Then, we determine which actions of the driver were negligent, careless, and/or reckless: what did s/he do wrong. Typically, this involves BUI, speeding, sharp turns, and/or failure to recognize hazards (e.g., not having proper lighting and running into a reef). We also look to any product liability claim, whether it be a defective motor or faulty life jacket. Nailing down this liability allows us to then focus on the major step—determining damages.
Actual Damages: Your damages involve medical bills, lost wages due to your injuries, every pain you’ve felt, ever anguish you’ve experienced, any suffering you go through, all mental concerns you develop, any long-term problem you now face, and so much more—depending on your specific case. In cases involving death, we work with the estate’s personal representative (and when necessary, the other surviving family members) to ensure the estate is properly set up and that the wrongful death and/or survival actions are fully fleshed out.
Punitive Damages: Finally, we look to the recklessness of the at-fault boater. We want to ensure that his/her actions are punished so that (1) the estate/victim is fully compensated, (2) the negligent boater understands the wrongfulness of his/her actions, and (3) the public sees that such actions will not be tolerated by South Carolina jurors.
What to do if Injured by a Boater in South Carolina
Most people know about car wreck liability. Boating wreck liability is not that different. I you have been injured in a boat accident caused by another person, it is important to preserve all related evidence and begin the claims process. Immediate action helps ensure you aren’t left without legal recourse, paying for your own medical bills. Hiring a boating accident lawyer helps you better understand your legal rights and obligations.
If a boater hurt you through their reckless or negligent behavior, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other losses related to these injuries (e.g., medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.). Andrew Johnson is an experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney, and you can confidentially consult with him for free. Give us a call today to begin the process of helping you obtain justice.