Residents of and visitors to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina have many opportunities to enjoy the water and boating. The Intercoastal Waterway, the Little River Inlet, and the Murrells Inlet all provide excellent opportunities for recreation, and people are also able to enjoy boating and fishing on nearby rivers, including the Pee Dee, Waccamaw, and North Santee Rivers. When a boating accident occurs, it can transform a fun event into a tragedy. Boat operators owe duties of care just like motor vehicle drivers. But a relaxing day out on a lake can turn horrific with a boating accident. People who are injured because of the negligence of a boat’s operator may file personal injury lawsuits to recover compensation for their losses.
What are the boating accident statistics?
According to the American Boating Association, 4,463 boat accidents happened in 2016, resulting in 2,903 injuries and 701 deaths. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources or SCDNR reports that there were 142 recreational boating accidents in the state in 2018, which resulted in the deaths of 15 people.
Common causes of boat accidents, fatalities, and injuries
Many boating accidents across the country and in South Carolina result when people who are unfamiliar with jet skis rent them. Many people who choose to vacation in Myrtle Beach may also drink alcohol while they are riding on boats. Some boat operators use alcohol while they are boating, which is dangerous to themselves, their passengers, and to other people who are on the water. When boat accidents happen, people can suffer serious injuries and can drown.
Is it legal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol in South Carolina?
It is against the law for drunk boaters to operate their boats while they are under the influence of alcohol. Like the DUI laws, the BUI laws in South Carolina set a legal limit of 0.08% for boat operators. The SCDNR investigates suspected BUI cases. A person who is convicted of a first offense may be fined $200, be ordered to serve jail time from 48 hours up to 30 days, and lose their privilege to operate watercraft for six months. When a boater causes an accident while drunk that injures or kills other people, the criminal penalties will be much more severe. In addition, the injured victims and the families of people who are killed may file civil lawsuits to recover damages from the at-fault boat operator. When alcohol was involved, it is possible that the victims may be able to recover punitive damages in addition to their compensatory damages.
I was injured in a boat accident on the Intercoastal Waterway. Can I sue?
Whether you can file a lawsuit for your boat accident injuries will depend on the facts of your case. If the accident was caused by another boater or by the operator of the boat on which you were a passenger, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit. You should make certain to thoroughly document everything. After the accident, report it to the authorities. You should also get medical help to diagnose and treat your injuries. Take pictures of the damage to all of the boats that were involved and of your injuries. Ask witnesses for their names and contact information, and encourage them to give statements to the police. Talk to an experienced injury lawyer at the Lovely Law Firm before you talk to the insurance company representative.
Insurance companies commonly try to settle claims quickly by making unreasonably low offers. You should never accept an offer without having an experienced personal injury lawyer review it. An attorney may understand how to properly value your claim and can work to secure compensation in a fair amount. When you have a lawyer working for you, you might recover more money than you could on your own. Attorneys work with investigators and experts to build strong cases that clearly show the liability of the negligent boat operators. By building a strong case, you may increase the chance that the insurance company will agree to settle your claim for an amount that pays for your losses.
How much money will I receive?
The amount of money that you might be able to recover through a boat accident claim will depend on a number of factors, including the following:
- The extent and severity of your injuries
- How likely it is that you will fully recover
- Your past and future medical expenses
- Your past and future expected income losses
- Your noneconomic losses
- The policy limits of the available sources of recovery
If you were a passenger on a boat, you may be able to recover damages from both of the boat operators in a collision if they shared the blame.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit for a boating accident in Myrtle Beach?
If you were injured in an accident with a boat or a jet ski, you must file your lawsuit no later than three years after the date that it occurs. However, it is important for you to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after your jet ski or boating accident. Important evidence that supports your claim may be lost over time. Boating accidents may also require substantial investigation that requires sufficient time. The best approach is for you to call an injury lawyer as soon after you have sought medical treatment as possible so that you do not forfeit your ability to recover damages.
Can I sue if my loved one was killed in a boating accident?
South Carolina provides a legal remedy for people who have lost their loved ones in boating accidents under the wrongful death statute. Under this law, a lawsuit can be filed by the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate on behalf of the surviving family members. If you have been named as the executor of your loved one’s estate, the attorneys at the Lovely Law Firm can help you to file a wrongful death claim.
How much will it cost to hire a lawyer for a boating accident?
The attorneys at The Lovely Law Firm accept personal injury claims, including boating accident cases, on a contingent-fee basis. This means that you will not have to pay for our legal fees until and unless we are able to successfully recover compensation for you through a settlement or verdict award. When you receive your award or settlement, we will take our fees out of what is received and settle any liens before we distribute the remainder to you. We also advance the costs and are repaid back at settlement.
We have represented boating accident victims who have been injured at Murrells Inlet, the Intercoastal Waterway, the Little River Inlet, and the surrounding rivers. We understand the complex nature of boat accident claims and are prepared to help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation so that you can learn more about your potential claim.