A boating accident can be a traumatic and dangerous event with severe consequences. In 2020, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) reported 153 boating accidents in South Carolina, of which 21 were fatal.

Serious accidents often have long-term repercussions, including physical injuries and emotional distress. Your boat is also likely to sustain damage after a collision, costing you thousands in repairs or replacement.

If you enjoy recreational boating in South Carolina, you should know what steps to take in case of a boating collision. These actions include obtaining medical attention and contacting a team of skilled South Carolina boating accident lawyers to explore your legal options.

What to do after an incident

Boating accident safety procedures begin long before a collision occurs. Anyone who intends to take a boat trip in South Carolina should familiarize themselves with accident protocols. If another vessel hits your boat, take the following actions to ensure you obtain necessary medical attention and protect your rights to compensation.

Stop the boat

If you’re operating the boat when an accident occurs, immediately bring it to a stop. Stopping your vessel makes it easier to control, reducing the risk of injuring an overboard passenger or colliding with a nearby vessel.

Check on the safety of all passengers

The next step is to check on passengers’ well-being. Take a headcount, determine whether anyone has fallen overboard, and assess injuries that require emergency treatment.

If anyone falls into the water, avoid jumping in to help unless their life is in danger. Use rope, a buoy, or flotation equipment to help them return to safety instead. If you must enter the water, wear a life jacket.

Once you account for all passengers, consider dropping anchor to stabilize the boat. Dropping your anchor helps keep the boat from shifting, allowing you to focus on tending to the needs of injured passengers.

Contact emergency services

Call 911 to report the accident and request assistance as soon as possible. If your cell phone becomes inaccessible, use your very high frequency (VHF) radio to notify the nearest emergency service of your situation. Use your VHF to contact the coast guard, marine police, or fire department to obtain emergency aid for yourself or your passengers.

Record details about the boating accident

Although it may be difficult, given the stressful circumstances, it’s critical to collect as much information as possible following an accident. This information is necessary to build your case against the party responsible for the incident. Record the following details:

  • Name and address of any other boat operators involved in the collision
  • Make and model of any other boats involved
  • Registration number of any other boats involved
  • Photos and videos of all vessels involved
  • Photos and videos of boat damage
  • Eyewitness contact information

Report the accident

Reporting an accident is essential to ensure the safety of those involved in an accident. In addition, federal law requires you to report boating accidents if they result in:

  • A death
  • Someone is injured and needs medical assistance beyond first aid care
  • A passenger disappears
  • Boat and property damage reaches or exceeds $2,000
  • A vessel is totaled

In South Carolina, you must report boating accidents to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). For all boating collisions that result in death, serious injury, or disappearance, you must report the incident within 48 hours. You must report the accident within 10 days for all other required reporting circumstances.

Visit a doctor

Schedule a doctor’s appointment to diagnose potential injuries. Some injuries may not be noticeable immediately but could cause a long-term disability. For example, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may take days or weeks to show symptoms, so receiving immediate care can reduce an injury’s impact on your life.

Your legal team can use your medical records and recommended treatment plans as evidence in a personal injury case. These documents can prove the extent of your injuries and help you pursue maximum compensation for your medical expenses.

Filing for Compensation

All boaters are responsible for the safe operation of their vessel. If you’re injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. If you sustained injuries in any of the following circumstances, schedule a free consultation with Joye Law Firm today:

  • Another boat operator was piloting while intoxicated
  • A negligent boat operator caused the accident
  • Your boating accident was a result of defective parts
  • Faulty maintenance played a role in your boating collision
  • Negligent boat operations resulted in the death of a loved one

Proving negligence can be challenging, particularly if you are still recovering from the accident. Hiring the services of a professional accident lawyer can help you build a strong case and maximize the compensation you receive for your injuries. The attorneys at Joye Law Firm have nearly 250 years of combined experience representing personal injury clients across South Carolina.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

Our no-hassle, no-obligation consultation policy ensures that you can meet with a qualified lawyer about your case without worrying about upfront fees. Let us put our legal experience to work for you; contact Joye Law Firm today for your free initial case evaluation.

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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