In South Carolina, we have great weather for most of the year. This provides lots of opportunity for outdoor fun, especially on our wonderful waterways. Lake Murray is just a short half hour drive from most parts of the Columbia area, providing boaters with a 50,000-acre playground that is ideal for fishing, sailing, or just enjoying a day out on the water with close family and friends.
The numerous waterways in the Palmetto State are enjoyed by both residents and tourists, but they are not without a downside. Those who are not careful can end up getting into a boating accident which can sometimes result in serious injuries. These accidents can leave victims with major medical expenses, physical and emotional trauma, and tight finances – especially if the victim is a primary breadwinner in the household.
If you or someone close to you suffered injury in a boat accident in South Carolina, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Unfortunately, insurance companies will typically use whatever tactics they can get away with to minimize the amount they have to pay to out to claimants. For this reason, it is very important to obtain strong legal counsel to help ensure that you receive the full and fair compensation you deserve.
At Peake & Fowler, we have over six decades of combined experience representing individuals who have been injured in boating accidents, and those who have suffered all other types of personal injuries in South Carolina. Our attorneys have a successful track record with even the most complex cases, and we know what it takes to prevail against well-funded adversaries such as insurance companies and their high-priced legal counsel.
Most Common Types of Boating Accidents
South Carolina’s lakes, rivers, and ocean fronts are filled with all different types of watercraft. These include motorboats, pontoons, sailboats, jet skis, canoes, kayaks, and many others. There are numerous ways that these aquatic vessels can end up in accidents:
- Collisions with Each Other: Approximately one out of every four boat accidents are collisions between two water vessels.
- Collisions with Fixed Objects: A significant number of boating wrecks happen when a watercraft collides with an object or structure in the water that is fixed and is not supposed to move. Examples would include docks, bridge supports, and anchored rafts.
- Capsizing/Flooding: Sometimes a water vessel might start taking on water and/or turn over. This might happen if the plug accidentally gets removed or the boat is moving too fast for the current conditions.
- Grounding: This type of boating accident happens when the bottom of the watercraft strikes an object underneath it, such as a large rock or reef. In some cases, grounding can even happen if a boat operator drives the watercraft up onto the shore.
- Falling Overboard: An operator or passenger falling out of a boat is one of the deadliest types of accidents on the waterways. Though not as common as the others mentioned, someone going overboard can result in serious and sometimes fatal injuries.
How Do most Boat Accidents Occur?
The majority of boating accidents happen because of some type of negligence, usually on the part of the boat operator, although sometimes another party may be at fault. Some of the most common causes of boat wrecks include:
- Operator Inexperience: Although South Carolina requires boat operators under the age of 16 to pass an online safety course, this is a fairly easy requirement to fulfill, and it does not provide much reassurance that an operator will know how to drive the boat. Boating expertise comes with hands-on experience; but unfortunately, a lot of operators do not have the experience necessary to handle adverse situations that may arise out on the waterways.
- Reckless Driving: Sometimes, a boat operator might have plenty of experience, but they still drive recklessly. For some people, driving fast and taking chances is a big part of the fun when they are out on the water.
- Intoxication: Chemical impairment is one of the leading causes of boat accidents. Alcohol consumption is often a big part of a boating excursion, and it can be very tempting for a watercraft operator to have some drinks throughout the day.
- Distractions: A growing number of boating accidents are caused by driver inattentiveness. This is becoming a bigger problem with each passing year as more and more people become addicted to smartphones. Out on the water, boat operators regularly use their phones to do things like send and receive texts and other electronic messages, take selfies, and watch videos.
- Overcrowding: There is a limit to the number of people that can safely fit into a watercraft. But when everyone wants to be part of the fun, it can be tempting to squeeze a few too many people into the boat. Overcrowding can cause a boat to take on water and start sinking, especially if the vessel moves too fast and/or the group encounters adverse conditions such as rain and heavy winds.
- Equipment Failure: Some boating accidents result from mechanical failure and/or the failure of various types of equipment. When an accident happens because of a faulty product, it may be possible to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of the dangerous or defective product.
Pursuing a Boat Accident Claim in South Carolina
When someone is hurt in a boating accident that was caused by another party’s negligence, they may be entitled to damages for the following:
- Property Damage
- Current and Future Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages and Loss of Future Earning Capacity
- Emotional Trauma
- Diminished Quality of Life
- Permanent Injury
When someone is wrongfully killed in a boat wreck, surviving loved ones can pursue a wrongful death claim to obtain compensation for losses such as funeral and burial costs, medical expenses that relate to the final injury, loss of comfort, care, guidance, and support, and loss of consortium.
Contact our Knowledgeable and Compassionate South Carolina Boat Accident Attorneys
At Peake & Fowler, we understand that a boating accident can take a major physical, emotional, and financial toll on victims and their families, and our goal is to make the legal process smooth and stress-free. We deal directly with the other side, and we take care of all of the complicated legal tasks so you can place your focus where it belongs – on getting recovered from your injuries. Throughout the process, we provide frequent updates on how your case is progressing, and we are always available whenever you need to reach out with questions or concerns.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our Columbia, SC office today at 803-998-2412 or send us an online message. We look forward to serving you!
Peake & Fowler Law Firm, P.A., is located in Columbia, SC and serves clients in and around Newberry, Lexington, Sumter, Allendale, Orangeburg, St. Matthews, Bishopville, Florence, Blythewood, State Park, Eastover, Columbia, Elgin, Irmo, Hopkins, Ridgeway, Lugoff, Ballentine, West Columbia, Kershaw, Camden, Dusty Bend, and Richland County, Lexington County, Calhoun County, Orangeburg County, Sumter County, Kershaw County, Newberry County, Fairfield County, Lee County, Clarendon County and Florence County.