boating accident

South Carolina has 460,000 acres of lakes, 8,000 miles of river and 3,000 miles of coastline. The abundance of water resources makes South Carolina a very popular state for boating, especially during the warm spring, summer and fall seasons.

Unfortunately, the fact that there are a lot of boaters in the state also means that there are a lot of boating accidents and a lot of injuries and deaths caused by boating.

At Joye Law Firm, we know that you are more than just a statistic if you have been injured in a boating accident. If you have been involved in a boating accident and are considering a claim for compensation against those responsible, call us today for help. We treat all of our clients with the courtesy and respect they deserve.

South Carolina Boating Accident Statistics

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) compiles statistics for boating accidents and injuries throughout the state. A Report of Statistics is available for boating accidents from 2008 through 2011, as well as for recreational boating accidents over the past 11 years. These resources are available on the South Carolina DNR website.

Some of the key information found on the website includes the following data on boating accidents:

  • In 2011, there were 98 recreational boating accidents in the state.
  • There were 19 recreational boating fatalities in 2011 in South Carolina.
  • Four of the recreational boating fatalities occurred on private pond facilities. Boating safety regulations are not enforced on private ponds.
  • In 2010, there were 109 recreational boating accidents, leading to 26 fatalities.
  • In 2009, there were 96 reportable boating accidents. In that year, the reporting figures changed, and the threshold for the required reporting of a boating accident went from $500 in damages to $2,000.
  • In 2009, there were 11 recreational boating fatalities in South Carolina.
  • There were 368,832 boats registered in South Carolina in 2012, up from 362,061 registered boats in 2011.
  • In 1973, there were 64 fatalities due to recreational boating, although there were only 128,000 boats registered. Although the number of registered boats has significantly increased since then, the fatality rate has seen a major reduction. Factors in the decrease in boating accident deaths include better monitoring by law enforcement, improved boating safety laws and boating education classes.

While boating has become much safer in South Carolina over the past 40 years, the fact remains that boating injuries and deaths still happen every year. Even one injury or death is too many.

Drinking and Boating in South Carolina

Boating is a treasured and relaxing activity here in South Carolina. However, the fun can quickly turn tragic when boating and drinking mix. Boating under the Influence (BUI) just like Driving under the Influence (DUI) is a serious and dangerous crime in South Carolina. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, drinking is involved in about a third of all recreational boating deaths.

Boat operators are likely to become impaired more quickly than a driver, drink-for-drink. This places their passengers and others on the water in serious danger. An impaired operator may hit another vessel, run ashore, capsize or make another serious operating error that could result in life-threatening injuries.

Victims of boating injuries, especially those who were injured by a boater who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, have the right to seek compensation against the at-fault party.

U.S. Boating Accident Statistics

The U.S. Coast Guard collects statistics on boating accidents on a national level and has prepared a comprehensive report entitled Recreational Boating Statistics 2011. According to this report:

  • There were 4,588 accidents in 2011 that caused 3,081 injuries and 758 fatalities.
  • Boating accidents in 2011 caused an estimated $52 million in property damage.
  • The fatality rate for recreational boating accidents in 2011 was 6.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vehicles. This was a 14.8 percent increase from the prior year’s death rate.
  • 70 percent of those who died in boating accidents in 2011 died as a result of drowning. Of those who drowned, 84 percent did not have a life jacket on at the time.
  • Only 11 percent of all boating accidents involved operators who had received education or instruction on boating safety.
  • Only 7 percent of deaths happened aboard boats where the operator had received boating safety education from a course provider accredited by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).
  • Eight out of every 10 boaters who drowned were aboard vessels of 21 feet in length or less.
  • Alcohol was the main factor in 16 percent of boating accident fatalities and is the leading contributing factor in deadly boating accidents.
  • The top five primary causes of boating accidents include inattentive operators, improper lookout, inexperienced operators, speeding and machinery failure.
  • In 2011, 15 children under the age of 13 were killed.
  • 47 percent of the vessels involved in boating accidents were open motor boats.
  • 14 percent of the vessels involved in reported accidents were cabin motorboats.
  • 19 percent of the vessels involved in reported accidents were personal watercraft.
  • Throughout the United States, there were a total of 12,173,935 registered recreational vessels.

These data reveal that many boating crashes could be prevented if boat operators made a commitment to be sober, to pay attention and to operate their vessels with reasonable care.

Contact Our South Carolina Boating Injury Lawyers Today

If you’ve been seriously hurt in a South Carolina boating accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you can trust our boating accident attorneys to work to get you the money and benefits you are entitled to.

Call Joye Law Firm or fill out our free online case evaluation form. We have offices in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Clinton, and Columbia, and we represent clients all over South Carolina.