Main Reasons Why Boating Accidents Occur

South Carolina Boating Accident Lawyers Serving Clients in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Columbia

What are the primary reasons that boating accidents occur in Charleston, SC and Myrtle Beach, SC? There are many different areas around Charleston and Myrtle Beach where residents and tourists can enjoy boating and other water sports. From enjoying an afternoon on the water in the Charleston Harbor to a day on the open ocean around Myrtle Beach, there are many bodies of water and water conditions that boaters need to be aware of. Boating accidents can happen in these areas for a wide variety of reasons, and many of them are preventable.

If you or someone you love recently suffered injuries in a boating accident in South Carolina, you should speak with an experienced Charleston personal injury lawyer to learn more about filing a claim for compensation. In the meantime, it is important to recognize some of the most common dangers that result in serious and fatal boating accidents throughout South Carolina. An article in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety magazine highlights the top causes of boating accidents and what we can do to help prevent them from happening in the first place.

Lack of Sufficient Training in Pre-Departure Basics

Whether you are renting a boat from one of the numerous marinas in Myrtle Beach or have your own boat docked at the Bristol Marina in Charleston, it is important to have a deep knowledge of boating before you go out on the water. The Handbook of South Carolina Boating Laws and Responsibilities makes clear that before going out, you need to have a clear understanding of a vessel’s length, its capacities on the water, how to file a proper float plan, how to refuel the vessel, and what must go into a pre-departure checklist.

Capsizing or Sinking

The U.S. Coast Guard emphasizes that capsizing and sinking are both major reasons why boating accidents occur. Often, capsizing and sinking results from a lack of understanding of safety protocols onboard the boat. First, ensure that you do not exceed the capacity of your vessel, the Handbook highlights. If you do not know the capacity of your South Carolina vessel—how many people it can safely hold—problems can arise when you get out onto the water. To be sure, too many people on a boat in Charleston or Myrtle Beach can capsize, especially if there is particularly rough or choppy weather, according to an article in Greenville Online.

In addition to the risk of capsizing due to an overloaded vessel, sinking can also happen when the vessel gets a hole in it. Before you depart, the U.S. Coast Guard underscores the importance of ensuring that your bilge pump is working and that the garboard plug (also sometimes called a bilge plug) is firmly in place. You should also keep tapered pegs with you onboard at all times so that you can pound them into a hole in the hull in order to prevent water from coming onboard.

Fires Onboard the Vessel

In addition to the risk of capsizing, improperly fueling the vessel can result in a fire or the inhalation of harmful vapors on board. The Handbook emphasizes that South Carolina boaters in Charleston and Myrtle Beach need to learn proper fueling practices before they go out. To safely fuel, you must take into account the following safety tips:

  • Avoiding fueling your boat at night if possible;
  • Ensuring that the boat is safely docked prior to fueling;
  • Checking fuel lines, connections, and fuel vents first;
  • Ensuring that no one is smoking or could light a match while you are fueling;
  • Shutting off fuel valves and extinguishing any open flames, even those for cooking, prior to fueling;
  • Removing portable fuel tanks from the boat and placing them well away from the fueling area;
  • Turning off engines, fans, electrical equipment, and anything else on board that could produce a spark;
  • Avoiding filling the tank to the brim; and
  • Keeping the fuel pump nozzle in close contact with the fuel tank to avoid creating a static spark (and thus a fire).

Speeding and Other Negligent and Reckless Behaviors

The Handbook of South Carolina Boating Laws and Responsibilities emphasizes that negligent or aggressive driving practices while you are commanding a boat can quickly result in a severe boating accident on the waters around Charleston or Myrtle Beach. Some common negligent and aggressive behaviors include but are not limited to:

  • Failing to give way to other boats, including sailboats, especially at night;
  • Failing to obey the correct course for returning from open waters or heading upstream;
  • Failing to obey the colored navigational aids through buoys and markers on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW);
  • Speeding;
  • Failing to keep personal flotation devices onboard and failing to require passengers to wear them if necessary;
  • Failure to use required navigation lights;
  • Weaving in congested boat traffic;
  • Unnecessarily crossing the wake of another vessel;
  • Failing to maintain a proper lookout;
  • Allowing passengers to ride in areas of the boat where they can risk falling overboard; and
  • Failing to take into account dangerous weather.

Contact a South Carolina Boating Accident Lawyer

If someone you love got hurt in a boating accident in Charleston or Myrtle Beach, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. An experienced South Carolina boating accident attorney can help. Contact the Joye Law Firm today for more information.