Boating & Maritime Accidents
The Joe Griffith Law Firm, LLC, based in Charleston, South
Carolina, handles boat accident injury cases throughout the state,
and we encourage you to call us if you or your loved ones have been
injured in a boating or maritime accident.
Such accidents can and often do cause serious injuries. Our injury
lawyers have extensive experience with these often major, life
altering events. We will work to determine the details of your
boating accident. We understand the law about boat crash
injuries, ship wrecks, insurance laws, medical issues, employment related issues
Boating is a major form of recreation and sport in South Carolina,
with nearly 300,000 registered boats in the state. Fishing trips,
diving expeditions, water skiing, jet skiing, a weeklong cruise on a luxury ship
– boats are supposed to be fun, recreational vehicles for you and
your family to enjoy. However, thousands of people are injured or
killed in boating wrecks each year.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2004, there were 4,904
recreational boating accidents reported in the United States, which
resulted in 676 fatalities, 3,363 injuries and $35,038,306 in
property damage. Overall, carelessness or reckless operation,
operator inattention, operator inexperience and excessive speed are
the leading contributing factors of all reported boating accidents.
Boat accidents have occurred on South Carolina Lakes Murray,
Thurmond, Wateree, Keowee, Moultrie, Greenwood, Jocassee, Marion,
Russell, Hartwell, and Wylie, and on South Carolina Rivers Ashley,
Ashepoo, Beaufort, Black, Broad, Catawba, Combahee, Congaree,
Cooper, Coosaw, Coosawhatchee, Edisto, Folly, Great Pee Dee, Kiawah,
Little Pee Dee, Little, May, Morgan, New, Rediversion Canal, Saluda,
Sampit, Santee, Savannah, Stono, Waccamaw, Wando, and Wateree, in
bays and harbors such as Charleston Harbor, Murrells Inlet, Winyah
Bay, Bulls Bay, Calibogue Sound, St. Helena Sound, Port Royal Sound,
Georgetown Harbor, and Savannah Harbor, as well as the Intercoastal
or Intracoastal Waterways and the Atlantic Ocean.
Boating accidents include capsizing, falls overboard, collisions,
sinking/flooding, explosions, disappearance and fire. The most
reported type of accident was a collision with another vessel.
However, capsizing and falls overboard are the most reported types
of fatal accidents and account for over half of all boating
When there is a boating accident, a report must be filed when:
- A life is lost due to the accident.
- Someone is injured and requires medical attention beyond
- There is damage by or to the vessel and other property.
- Any person on board a vessel disappears (under circumstances
indicating possible death or injury).
Reports must be filed within:
- 48 hours of the occurrence if a person dies within one day
(24 hours of the accident).
- 48 hours if a person is injured and medical treatment beyond
first aid is required.
- 10 days if there is only damage to the vessel and/or
Boat accidents are governed by a number of city, county, state
and/or federal laws. Boat operators have a legal obligation to
operate their watercraft in a safe manner. If they do not, there may
be criminal charges, and the people who were injured may be entitled
to sue for damages. Boat owners also need to be careful about
allowing other people to drive their boats. No matter who is
driving, if the boat is in an accident, the boat owner may be liable
for the damages.
Failure to remain on the scene, provide aid and report the accident
in a timely manner is a crime. You should also report the incident
to your insurance company. This is a requirement if a state or
federal report was made.
Accidents involving boats often result in very serious injuries.
Although most are due to unintentional operator error, other factors
may also play a part in causing boating accidents. Poorly designed
boats and other boating equipment and negligent, dangerous drivers
are responsible for causing some boating accidents.
Civil lawsuits are frequently filed against the manufacturer when
some type of failure of either the boat's machinery or its hull
caused an accident. Boat accident lawsuits also can result when a
boat operator causes an injury while operating a boat under the
influence of alcohol or in some other negligent fashion.
If you have been injured in any kind of boat accident that was
someone else’s fault, you have the right to be compensated for a
wide range of damages, including property damage, medical expenses,
lost wages, permanent injury and pain and suffering. In the event
that a death has resulted from your accident, a wrongful death suit
can be filed.
If you have been injured in a boating accident, here are some steps
to take to prepare for a lawsuit:
- See a doctor as soon as possible. Do not underestimate the
injury from an accident. Back and neck injuries can be
debilitating in the long term.
- Get as much information as you can about your accident. Get
the names, numbers and addresses of all people involved,
including witnesses. You will also need to keep track of
insurance information and the reporting process. Make copies.
- Do not talk to anyone about your accident other than law
enforcement officials. Anything you say to insurance company
representatives or investigators could make it harder for you to
settle your claim.
- Do not sign anything, especially a release form, without
first talking to an attorney.
- Contact a boating accident lawyer as soon as possible. You
may have a limited amount of time in which you can file a
boating accident lawsuit. A competent boating accident lawyer
can make sure everything gets done right.
The personal injury attorneys of Joe Griffith Law Firm, LLC have
the experience to help boating accident victims in South Carolina
receive the fair compensation they deserve. We will investigate the
facts, assess your claim, determine which parties and insurance
companies are to be held responsible, organize all of the details of
your case and pursue it vigorously in settlement negotiations or at
trial. We are dedicated to our profession, and our clients. We stand
ready and capable to provide our clients the highest caliber of
professional service, with a personal touch and a friendly attitude.
Call us today, at 843-CALL-JOE (843-225-5563), or contact us via our
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