Just as Charleston’s three rivers converge to meet the Atlantic Ocean, the peninsula and neighboring islands have created an intrinsic gathering place for U.S. residents and visitors alike. For many, alcohol is synonymous with boating and celebration, but it is also the highest contributing factor in recreational boating accidents and fatalities. Fluid waterways which prohibit proper boundaries and the constant motion of a floating vessel can sometimes spell disaster offshore when combined with a lack of focus.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a boating accident — as an operator, swimmer, jet ski driver, or water skier — Auger & Auger Personal Injury Lawyers are here to help. Determining how an accident happened is essential to holding the responsible party accountable for medical bills and other economic and non-financial losses. Once contacted, we will send a Charleston boating accident attorney to the site to connect with local officials, secure the vessel or watercraft involved, order an inspection and make sure your rights and interests are protected.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division, in 2017, South Carolina had 151 boating accidents, including 13 fatalities and over $2.9 million in damages. The following graphic demonstrates the causes and factors of fatal boating accidents during 2017. Surprisingly, operator errors meet or surpass hazardous waters and weather contributions, while predictably, alcohol use far exceeds any other causes.
A Charleston boating accident lawyer understands the multiple facets involving recreational boating accidents. Our objective is to demonstrate the highest caliber of legal representation for the injured parties. We are confident that taking steps to win compensation for those harmed by reckless boating accidents will ultimately contribute to the safer use of Charleston’s waterways.
Not all accidents and injuries are preventable, but many are. Here are some tips to reduce your risk:
As with driving a car, there are rules to keep people safe on the water. It’s important to understand these, and we recommend everyone who plans to operate a boat or personal watercraft (PWC) take a boating safety course to get up to speed. Here are some essential rules for boating in South Carolina:
A boating accident can be frightening and leave you reeling. Try to stay calm and follow these steps after a crash occurs on the water:
Boating crashes with other watercraft can be complicated, some more so than others. It’s common for an injured party to seek compensation from the other boater’s insurance, only to receive a denial. Often, the other boater claims they weren’t at fault, and their insurance company is happy to accept that explanation since it gives them an excuse not to pay the claim.
If you’ve been hurt in an accident on the water, speak to a Charleston boating accident attorney as soon as possible. They can advise you on all the possible ways to cover your damages, including sorting out any liable parties (there may be more than one). Depending on the situation, you may have a claim against the boat’s operator, the boat’s owner, or occasionally the boat’s manufacturer (if some sort of defect led to the accident). Rarely another third party may be liable, such as when a third party provided alcohol or drugs to someone who later operated a boat under the influence and hurt someone.
In many cases, we find that another party’s actions were negligent, leading to the victim’s injuries. Here are some examples of negligence in boating crashes:
Unfortunately, boater liability insurance isn’t required in South Carolina (although it’s highly recommended), so you may find that the person who caused your accident isn’t insured. Naturally, this is very upsetting, and we’ve received more than a few calls from people wondering if they have any recourse.
Fortunately, there are other options in most cases. In some situations, the boater’s homeowner’s insurance may cover the accident, but not always. We will thoroughly look for any applicable insurance policy, but if none exists, we’re prepared to help you sue the boat’s owner directly for damages.
Your lawyer will also work with an investigative team to uncover as much evidence as possible in your case. Investigators will talk with witnesses, go over any photos or video of the crash or the scene, review what safety precautions were taken, and work to understand exactly how your injuries occurred. In many cases where the responsible party was insured, but the claim was denied, we’re able to find additional evidence that convinces the insurance company to reconsider the claim. If not, or there is no relevant insurance policy, we will fight for you in court or mediation. Our goal is to help to secure a settlement that will allow you to pay your medical and other bills and move on with your life.
If you’ve been injured on the water, you may have suffered several kinds of damages. Figuring out how much compensation you should expect can be complicated, and most people will not think of everything that should be included. Your lawyer will review all of these items with you to ensure you seek enough money to cover all your expenses.
Auger & Auger Personal Injury Lawyers will help you deal with the insurance company, following through with all legal processes required to make a claim for your compensation. There may be multiple persons or entities to be held responsible, from commercial vessels with liability policies to manufacturers of the watercraft or maintenance providers.
The first few days after a boating accident are critical for gathering and preserving evidence due to the quick deterioration of the accident scene. Please do not hesitate to call our Charleston boating accident attorney today! We make the pursuit of a claim for damages and handle all the paperwork and legal tasks our job — so you can focus on your health and well-being. Even if you’re unsure who’s fault the accident was or if you have a valid claim, call us for a free consultation, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions and explain the options.
Call (843) 751-4690 for your free consultation today, with no fees due until recovery!