Injuries from boating accidents can result in serious and potentially life-threatening injuries. If you or a loved one has become the victim of a boating accident, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages from missed work, and pain and suffering, among other damages.
Roden Law has years of legal experience helping injured victims and their families seek the maximum amount of compensation possible. To date, we have recovered millions in compensation on our clients’ behalf. Founder and firm partner Eric Roden was recently selected to the Super Lawyers Rising Stars list for 2020 – 2021.
An initial consultation is 100 percent free and confidential. There is no risk in calling us and no obligation to have our firm represent you. We also charge no upfront fees for our services.
If you've just been in a boating accident, check out our Free Checklist of what to do immediately following a Charleston Boat Accident.
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Do I Have a Case?
Our legal team will need to review your situation to determine if you may have a viable case for compensation. A free consultation will allow you the opportunity to speak with us about what occurred, learn about your rights, and ask any questions you may have about the legal process.
To obtain compensation, you will need to prove that negligence played a role in the boating accident and your injuries. Most personal injury cases are based on the legal theory of negligence, which requires that you establish the following:
- The other party owed you a duty of care to prevent harm to you and others.
- The other party breached this duty of care by not acting reasonably as someone in a similar position would have done.
- The other party’s actions or inactions directly resulted in your injuries.
- You also suffered damages, such as medical expenses or loss of income.
An experienced Charleston boating accident lawyer from our firm is ready to help you prove these elements by conducting a detailed investigation and gathering supportive evidence.
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Who May Be Liable for a Charleston Boating Accident?
After a boating accident, it can be difficult to determine fault because more than one party may be responsible for damages. Parties that could potentially be liable include:
- Boat operator – Any operator who fails to take reasonable steps to prevent passengers on board from being injured (such as by not putting life jackets on board), may be held liable.
- Boat owner – If a boat owner knowingly loaned a boat to an untrained or inexperienced person and that person causes an accident, the owner may hold some responsibility.
- Boat rental company – These companies have an obligation to ensure that all boats and equipment rented to others are safe to use. Not keeping a boat properly maintained and serviced could make the company liable for any injuries and damages.
- Boat manufacturer – If a boat accident is caused by a defective part or poor design, the manufacturer of the boat may be held liable.
- Passenger of the boat – Any passenger who acts recklessly or prevents a boat operator from performing his or her job may be partially or fully liable in the event of an accident.
- Another boater – Most of these accidents are due to operator error. Another boater may be held liable if he or she was speeding or boating while intoxicated or impaired.
At Roden Law, we know how to build a strong case to attempt to hold the appropriate party or parties accountable as we pursue maximum compensation. Allow us to fight on your behalf today.
Compensation Available for Boating Accident Victims
The compensation that may be available to you will depend on your circumstances. Our Charleston boating accident lawyers are ready to help determine the potential value of your case. Generally, boating accident victims may be eligible to obtain compensation for:
- Medical bills, including hospital stays, doctor visits, and tests
- Physical therapy or rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages from missing work while in recovery
- Loss of future wages you could have earned if not injured
- Pain and suffering, both physical and mental
There is no cost to you to schedule and attend a consultation with a member of our legal team. Our services are provided on a contingency fee basis, so we charge nothing upfront. We only get paid if we help you receive compensation through a settlement or verdict.
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What If I Am Partially at Fault for My Injury?
You may still be eligible for compensation even if you are partially to blame for your injuries. However, you cannot be more than 50 percent at fault. South Carolina uses a doctrine of comparative fault. Any amount awarded will be reduced based on your percentage of fault.
For instance, if you were awarded $100,000 but also found to be 30 percent to blame for the accident, your compensation will be reduced by $30,000. You would only recover $70,000.
Deadline for Taking Legal Action
In most cases, you generally have three years from the date of the accident to take legal action. This deadline may be extended or shortened. Waiting until just before the deadline will likely result in a court dismissal and an inability to pursue compensation.
Although three years seems like plenty of time, it also takes a lot of time and effort to conduct a detailed investigation, gather evidence, and obtain medical records linking your injuries to the accident. A Charleston boating accident lawyer from Roden Law is prepared to help you meet the deadline.
Reasons Boating Wrecks Often Happen
There are multiple reasons a boat can sink, capsize, flood, or strike another boat, fixed object, or people in the water. Boating accidents often happen due to negligence or carelessness, such as:
- Inexperienced or untrained operators
- Inattentive or distracted operators
- Operating while under the influence
- Reckless or excessive speeding
- Defective or faulty equipment
- Inadequate maintenance and inspection
- Overloading the boat with people or gear
- Operating the boat in bad conditions
- Operating in an area with unfamiliar terrain, such as sandbars
- Disobeying boating rules and regulations
In a boat crash, a passenger can get thrown from the boat, fall overboard, and possibly drown. Other serious injuries that could occur from a boating accident include:
- Broken bones
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Brain trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
South Carolina Boating Laws
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is responsible for implementing and enforcing boating laws and regulations to help protect people while on the water.
Any violation of these laws and regulations could result in serious injuries for anyone involved. Negligent parties may also be potentially held liable for any injuries and damages they cause.
Operating a Boat or Watercraft
All boaters 16 years of age or older may operate a boat or watercraft without restrictions if they have their boating license on board and available for inspection.
Anyone younger than 16 years of age must pass a boating safety course and can operate a boat or watercraft with a motor of 15 hp or less. Otherwise, you must be accompanied on the boat by an adult at least 18 years old if the boat or watercraft has a motor of 15 hp or greater.
Required Safety Equipment
Each boat is required to carry U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices for every person on board.
All boaters or passengers 12 years of age and younger on the deck or cockpit of any boat under 16 feet in length must be wearing their personal flotation devices while the boat is underway.
Boating Under the Influence
Operating a boat or watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is prohibited. Anyone in violation of this law is subject to fines, jail time, and suspension of their license.
How to Handle a Boating Accident
There are several actions you can take after a boating accident to protect your well-being and preserve your claim for compensation. These actions include:
Seek Immediate Medical Care
First, check yourself for injuries and then help anyone else in need while you wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Once in the care of a doctor, he or she will be able to assess the extent and severity of your injuries and put together a personalized treatment plan to aid in your recovery. Your medical records can be helpful to show that your injuries are connected to the accident.
Exchange Contact Details
If you are physically capable, exchange contact details with those involved and anyone who may have witnessed the accident. Be sure to write down the boat’s name and registration or identification number, and obtain the boat operator’s insurance company information.
Take Photos or Video
Take photos and/or video of the accident scene, your injuries, damage to the boat, and other property, if possible. Gathering this evidence can be helpful if you later need to prove the boat operator or another party was responsible for the accident.
File a Boating Accident Report
A boat operator involved in an accident must report to the Department of Natural Resources if the accident resulted in the loss of consciousness, loss of life, disability or medical treatment.
Under federal law, a boating accident report must be filed under the following conditions:
- If the accident resulted in death
- If the injury was severe enough to require medical care
- If there is damage to any boat or property totaling or exceeding $2,000
- If there is a complete total loss of a boat or a boat is destroyed
- If anyone disappears from a boat and is likely to be seriously or fatally injured
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Call Our Charleston Boat Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation
One of our Charleston boating accident attorneys is prepared to review your situation and discuss your potential legal options during a free, no-obligation legal consultation. You may be eligible to pursue significant compensation to help cover medical bills, loss of income, and more.
There are no upfront fees to use our services. We only receive payment if we help you obtain a recovery. Reach out to our firm anytime, day or night, to learn more about your rights.