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I Was in a Boating Accident in SC

April 12, 2023

: General News

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The beautiful state of South Carolina boasts some of the most incredible waterways in the Southeast. From the Lowcountry to the Midlands to the Upstate region, South Carolina offers 460,000 acres of lakes, 8,000 miles of rivers, and 3,000 miles of coastline. With so many amazing bodies of water, boating is one of the favorite pastimes of locals and visitors alike.

Unfortunately, more boaters in our waterways also increase the risk of boating accidents. Despite the efforts of our local law enforcement agencies to promote safe practices, boating accidents in SC occur every year, leaving many boaters with serious injuries and even some deaths. 

If you’ve been hurt in a boating accident in SC, you may need some guidance navigating the process. The experienced legal team at Bernstein & Bernstein can help!

What To Do Following a Boating Accident in SC

The moments following a boating accident can be overwhelming. To ensure the best outcome for yourself and other passengers, follow these steps: 

1. Assess the Situation

First, you’ll need to determine whether everyone aboard your watercraft is safe.

  • Is the boat sinking? 
  • Is anyone missing? 
  • Has anyone fallen overboard? 
  • Is anyone injured? 
  • Are the injuries severe? 
  • Does anyone need immediate medical attention? 

If any passengers have fallen overboard, assist them back onto the vessel. If reboarding the boat is not possible, provide victims with flotation devices. Promptly gather major details of the accident, and call emergency services immediately. 

2. Call for Help

Dial 9-1-1 if you have a cell phone with service or use a VHF radio to send a distress signal on channel 16. Clearly state you were in a boating accident, tell them your location, and inform them of any injuries and missing persons, so the nearest emergency services (US Coast Guard or SC Department of Natural Resources) can be dispatched to you. 

In addition to these details, the dispatcher may ask further questions, such as the cause of the accident, how many passengers were on board, and the number of vessels involved. Be prepared to answer with clear and accurate information. 

3. Seek Medical Attention

Emergency medical services may be dispatched to the scene depending on the gravity of the injuries. A medical professional should evaluate all passengers to ensure their injuries are not life-threatening. If no medical services are present at the scene, seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you don’t believe you’re seriously injured.

4. Gather Information

After a boating accident, be sure to document any critical information. These details could be essential in proving your case and granting you a settlement: 

  • Number of passengers and boats involved
  • Legal names, phone numbers, and addresses of drivers and passengers involved
  • Names of insurance companies and policyholders 
  • Date, time, and location of the accident
  • Cause(s) of the accident
  • Year, make, model, and boat registration IDs of watercraft(s) involved
  • Photographs of the damages

5. Report the Accident

If you did not call for help at the time of the accident, you may still need to report the accident. 

Federal law requires you to make a report to the US Coast Guard if: 

  • There is a fatality
  • Injuries require medical attention beyond First Aid
  • A person or persons disappear from a vessel 
  • Boat or property damages equal to or exceed $2,000
  • A watercraft is lost or destroyed 

In South Carolina, you may also need to report the incident to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 

6. Make Insurance or Injury Claims

Once all passengers make it back to shore safely, if you own any of the boats involved in the accident, you should contact your insurance company, even if you were not at fault. If you are injured and need to make a claim, it may be best to speak with an attorney who can help you. 

7. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

After a boating accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney to help you understand your rights, guide you through any legal processes, and get the compensation you deserve while you focus on healing. 

What Injuries Commonly Occur During Boat Accidents?

The 2021 US Coast Guard Boating Statistics Report found that the most common boating accident injuries are: 

  1. Lacerations
  2. Broken bones
  3. Scrapes and bruises
  4. Concussions 
  5. Unknown injuries

What Are the Most Common Causes of Boat Accidents in SC?

A US Coast Guard Boating Statistics Report released in 2021 noted that the top five causes of boating accidents are: 

  1. Inattentive operation
  2. Inexperienced operators
  3. Improper lookout
  4. Speeding
  5. Alcohol use 

Alcohol usage remains the leading cause of fatalities in boating accidents across the United States. In 2021 alone, alcohol use by South Carolina boaters resulted in 14 accidents, 15 injuries, and 3 deaths. 

Have You Been in a Boat Accident in SC? -- Our Team of Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers Is Here to Help!

As you can see, a fun day on the water can quickly result in disastrous consequences, especially when owners, operators and/or passengers neglect appropriate safety practices. If you’ve been seriously injured in a boating accident, hiring an experienced attorney as soon as possible is important. 

Bernstein & Bernstein’s team of legal experts can help investigate the accident, negotiate with the insurance company, represent you in court, and file claims for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 

Get in touch with our office today to get started. 

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