Boating enthusiasts usually can’t wait for the next day on the water. But sometimes boating turns tragic. Three woman were killed and 10 others were injured in late June on Lake Powell in Utah when a motorboat, carrying 13 people, crashed into a houseboat and flipped. The driver of the motorboat was apparently distracted by young passengers when the accident occurred, according to an Associated Press report. No passengers on the houseboat were injured.

While the cause of the accident remains under investigation, boating accidents in South Carolina and across the United States claim hundreds of lives each year. In 2012, the Coast Guard reported 4,515 boating accidents that involved 651 deaths.

Boating and Booze

More than one-third of all boating accidents involve a driver under the influence of alcohol. All states including South Carolina have criminalized boating under the influence and often impose heavy fines on or incarcerate those convicted of the offense. Other factors such as inexperience and inclement weather can lead to accidents as well.

Typically, boat operators are at fault in accidents in which they act negligently, meaning they fail to conduct themselves reasonably and fail to adhere to safety rules and precautions. A jury determines whether a boater meets the “reasonable person” standard.

Personal Liability

Anyone who is responsible for a boating accident may incur civil liability, criminal liability, or both. Victims of a boating accident may sue for property damage, medical expenses and other losses.

The boat operator must file an accident report when a boating accident occurs that causes significant personal injury or property damage. Failure to report the accident is a crime.

A recreational boating accident occurs every 2 ½ hours, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. They cause thousands of injuries and are responsible for millions of dollars of property damage. Boating is a popular pastime in South Carolina, especially along the Grand Strand. Whether you are along for the ride or pilot your own craft, South Carolina rivers, lakes and coast offer a fantastic variety of boating activities.

You — as a boat operator, passenger, or concerned individual — can make a difference in boating safety. Our South Carolina personal injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm encourage boaters to know the rules and practice them.

If you have been involved in a South Carolina a boating accident, contact Joye Law Firm to sort out the questions and gain valuable answers.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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