South Carolina is home to 14 major reservoirs. Many people enjoy using the state’s beautiful waterways to fish. However, a day of recreation can turn dangerous if you or a loved one is in a boating accident. A Columbia boat accident lawyer can educate you about your right to claim compensation. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of your ability to take legal action — call Shealey Law Firm to review your case.
How Can a Columbia Boat Accident Lawyer Help You Understand Your Situation?
Sometimes boat accident negligence cases are straightforward. Other times, they are more complicated.
South Carolina has a modified comparative negligence system for injury cases. The law recognizes that more than one party can be responsible for accidents. A party found to be less than 50% at fault can recover damages from the party determined to be more than 50% at fault. The amount collected depends on the percentage of fault.
While many boating accident claims are settled out of court, a Columbia boat accident lawyer can navigate the particulars of your case and help you collect the damages you deserve.
What Are Common Boat Accident Injuries?
Boating accident injuries can be catastrophic or even fatal. Some of the injuries that can happen in a boating accident include:
If passengers hit their heads against something onboard or collide with another boat or object, they may experience whiplash or a concussion.
Slips and falls, colliding with another boat or something in the water, or being thrown from the vessel can cause passengers to break bones. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the most common broken bones include those in the leg, trunk and head.
Spinal cord damage
A wreck with another boat or object can injure a passenger’s spinal cord. A boater can also experience this type of injury through forceful bouncing, such as from the wake of another boat causing high waves.
The impact of a boating accident can lead to several types of internal injuries, such as:
- Brain bleeds
- Punctured lungs
- Internal bleeding
Vital organs, such as the liver, kidneys and stomach, can also experience damage in an accident.
Boating always carries a risk of drowning. No matter how it happens, it is tragic for the victim’s family. A Columbia boat accident lawyer can provide assistance and support in the aftermath.
Drowning can happen due to operator inexperience, excessive alcohol use, navigation mistakes, speeding, hazardous waters or other reasons.
How Do Boating Accidents Happen?
Many factors can lead to boating accidents. Some are more common than others.
Operator inattention and inexperience
According to the Coast Guard, operator inattention was the most common contributing factor to boating injuries in 2021, injuring almost 400 people. Boating can be fun and relaxing, but the operator is responsible for staying vigilant and monitoring weather conditions and potential hazards.
Operator inexperience was the fourth-leading cause of accidents in 2021, leading to about 275 injuries. Boat operation isn’t something to learn on the fly. The operator should be familiar with navigating a watercraft and understand boating laws. If you’re in an accident you believe resulted from operator negligence, consult a Columbia boat accident lawyer.
A lookout should always be on board. The lookout’s job is to keep eyes and ears on the water and surrounding area, reporting obstacles and hazards. A lookout assesses the risk of a situation and plays a vital role in preventing accidents.
In 2021, improper lookouts resulted in almost 350 boating injuries, making it the second leading accident factor.
It can be tempting to speed while boating. However, it’s just as important to obey speed laws on the water as on the road. Submerged obstacles, high waves and other watercraft can contribute to an accident.
Boat operators must be sober while navigating, just as if they were behind the wheel of a car. In 2021, alcohol use led to 14 accidents, 15 injuries and three deaths in boating accidents.
If an operator has a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher at the time of an accident, South Carolina law considers that person impaired. A Columbia boat accident lawyer can answer your questions about legal intoxication levels.
Other causes of boating accidents include:
- Wave or wake force
- Navigation violation
- Sharp turns
- Machinery failures
While various factors can contribute to boating injuries and deaths, most result from improper vessel operation.
Safety Precautions for Boaters
You should take these steps to stay safe while boating.
Maintain a lookout
At least one person on board should be responsible for scanning the water for other boats, hazards, changing weather conditions or people in the water.
Avoid boating when fatigued or under the influence
Boat operators need to be alert and sober while on the water. Wait until you are rested and alert before going out on a boat.
Maintain an appropriate speed
Slow down when visibility is limited or you’re in a no-wake zone. Watch for other boats that can cause waves or turbulence that affect your operation ability.
Become familiar with navigation rules
Follow the rules of the water when operating a vessel. Understand navigation aids, right-of-way rules and sound signals, and pay attention to them while operating a boat.
Boating Accident FAQs
How much can a Columbia boat accident lawyer help you collect?
The amount of your settlement varies according to many factors. The percentage of fault, accident circumstances, injury extent and ability to pay compensation can affect how much you recover.
Can you file a claim yourself after a boat accident?
You can file with an insurance company without hiring a Columbia boat accident attorney. However, getting assistance from a lawyer eases your burden. It may also increase your chances of collecting a payout.
Get Help From a Columbia Boat Accident Lawyer at Shealey Law Firm
We provide free consultations 24 hours a day, seven days a week and have helped many others successfully manage their claims. Call our Columbia office at 803-590-3917. You can also contact us online. Get assistance from a Columbia boat accident lawyer at Shealey Law Firm today.