Boating Accident Lawyers in South Carolina

According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, 131 recreational boating accidents resulted in 19 fatalities during 2015, the most recent year for which boating accident statistics are available. That was up from 2014 when 15 people died in 127 boating accidents in South Carolina.

A boating accident can leave injured people to cope with large medical bills, financial worries, pain, and emotional trauma. The laws in South Carolina require people whose negligence or irresponsibility causes boating accidents to be held legally liable for the damages that result.

To obtain the compensation you deserve after a boating accident injury or death, you need to pursue a legal claim for damages. A boating accident lawyer at Joye Law Firm can help you make your claim. Our law firm has offices in Charleston, Columbia, Clinton, and Myrtle Beach.

boating accident lawyer
To find out how we can help you, call us at 877-936-9707 or fill out our online contact form for a free and confidential claim evaluation.

Accidents and Injuries in Recreational Boating

Boating is a popular pastime in South Carolina, a state with 8,000 miles of rivers, 3,000 miles of coastline and 460,000 acres of lakes. Both residents and visitors enjoy fishing, pleasure boating, water-skiing and other activities on the water.

While most boating trips are safe and everyone has a good time without incident, boating accidents can and do happen. In fact, the United States Coast Guard reports that there were a total of 4,588 boating accidents throughout the U.S. in recent year. These accidents caused around $52 million in property damage, and 3,081 people were injured and 758 people killed.

The vast majority of those who were killed – a full 70 percent on the national level – died from drowning. In any type of boating incident, a person could potentially drown. This is especially true when the boater is not wearing a life jacket.

Boating accidents are much more likely to occur when the boat operator has not had adequate safety instruction. In one year, the Coast Guard reported that almost 90 percent of the fatalities occurred aboard boats where the owner had not reviewed safety instructions. Around 93 percent of the fatal boating accidents happened on boats operated by people who had not taken an approved safety course that had been certified by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).

How Boating Accidents Happen

Boating accidents can happen as a result of mistakes made by people who try to operate a boat without proper instruction and without knowledge of boat safety, but this is just one cause of accidents. The U.S. Coast Guard has made a list of common causes of boating accidents, including:

  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Speeding
  • Improper lookout or failure to observe others on the waterways
  • Broken or insufficient onboard navigation lights
  • Failure to properly ventilate the boat or boating equipment
  • Operator distraction or inattention
  • Operator inexperience
  • Failure to observe right-of-way rules or other boating rules
  • Obstructed or restricted vision
  • Sharp or unsafe turns
  • Improperly starting the boat while it is in gear
  • Failure to anchor the boat properly
  • Overloading the boat or incorrect weight distribution
  • Problems with boating equipment, including hull or machinery failure
  • Crowded waters
  • Hazardous water
  • Storms or bad weather
  • Fire

In many instances, those operating boats could prevent an accident by obeying the law and exercising a reasonable degree of care. When a boater fails to behave responsibly, he or she may be held legally liable for the resulting injuries.

Compensation for Boating Injuries

There are a number of situations in which an accident victim may be able to pursue a claim for compensation after a boating accident. For example:

  • A passenger who gets hurt in a boating accident because the boat operator was drunk at the helm could file a lawsuit.
  • A passenger or operator of a boat who is hurt in an accident caused by the negligence of someone else on the waterways could pursue a claim against the boat operator who caused the accident.
  • A boater or passenger who is harmed as a result of a defect in the boat or boat parts could pursue a product liability claim against the manufacturer or seller of the defective part.
  • Someone who is harmed as a result of negligent boat maintenance could take legal action against the individual or company that was entrusted with maintaining the boat.
  • A water-skier could take legal action against the operator of the boat who acted in a negligent or careless way.
  • Someone whose spouse or another close relative is killed on a boat due to operator negligence could pursue a wrongful death claim against the careless boat operator.

Obtaining Compensation After a Boating Accident

Every boater has a duty to obey boating safety rules and to exercise reasonable caution. This duty is owed to passengers and to others on the water. A victim can show that someone fell short of this obligation by proving that the boater was more careless than a reasonable person would have been in a similar situation. Showing that the boater violated safety laws may also help prove that you are owed compensation.

Typically, boaters have insurance to cover the damages they cause, so you should not worry about bringing a claim against a friend or relative if you got hurt on his or her boat.

Contact Our Boating Accident Lawyers

If you’ve been hurt on a boat, get a free case review from Joye Law Firm. Our South Carolina boating accident attorneys have more than 110 years of combined experience representing injured people and their families. Call Joye Law Firm or use this online contact form for a free, no-hassle, no-obligation consultation.

We will take care of all the details, paperwork and claims forms so you can concentrate on getting well. Our law firm has offices in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Clinton, and Columbia, and we can handle cases anywhere in South Carolina.


I found everyone at the Joye law firm to be completely professional and compassionate. They made me feel like I was their only client. I highly recommended the Joye Law Firm!

Review by: Thomas
Rating: ★★★★★5 / 5 stars


trust is important to us

we want to hear about your case