With summer right around the corner, more and more people are putting their boats in the waters of Lake Murray, Lake Moultrie and the Inner Coastal waterway. A long day of sun and a cooler packed with food and beverages may make the driver of a boat forget that they are still operating a vehicle. If a boat is operated improperly, it could lead to serious injury or death not only for those in the boat, but for others as well. In the most recent year that data is available, South Carolina ranked eighth in the nation for total boat registrations. While accidents involving boats do not occur as often as accidents involving vehicles on the road in South Carolina, they do happen with an unfortunate frequency. In 2014, there were one hundred and twenty four boating accidents in South Carolina and fourteen deaths that resulted from boater negligence.
How is a boating accident different from an accident on the road?
The first danger that is associated with a boating accident is the risk of drowning. In an accident on the road if you are uninjured, you may be able to remove yourself from a vehicle that is damaged. In a boating accident, you may not have the same ability and may be at much higher risk for death. If you are injured on the water, moving (or swimming) from the scene of an accident becomes even more difficult. Like rules for driving on the road established by the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has created similar regulations for boat operators. Unfortunately, as many view boating as a hobby, these regulations often go unstudied resulting in injury or accidents.
What should you do if you are in a boating accident?
If you are in an accident with another boat, you should stop the boat you are in immediately at the scene of the accident. Similar to on the road, there are penalties for leaving the scene of an accident on the water. You should also assist anyone who may be injured unless providing assistance would do more harm than could. Like a regular car accident, you should exchange information with the other boat operator. It is also your responsibility to contact the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources if a boating accident occurs. This is similar to reporting an accident to the police. After you have done these initial steps, it is important to contact a lawyer who can help determine if the other boat operator is liable, and who can help you begin to negotiate medical bills and other damages.
Have you been injured in a boating accident?
While boating accidents have many similarities to accidents on the road, there are a few key differences. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you work through the process of making a claim and the differences between a car accident and an accident on the water. The personal injury attorneys at the Solomon Law Group can help you develop a personal injury case and can help you seek the recovery that you deserve.