With over 460,000 acres of lakes, 8,000 miles of river and 3,000 miles of coastline, South Carolina sees its share of boating accidents. Residents and non-residents use boats for pleasure, hunting, water skiing and fishing. It’s easy enough to get hurt while you are boating, whether it’s an accidental drowning, broken limbs, or a piece of equipment that injures you on a boat, such as the boom on a sailboat or fishing boat equipment.
Over the years, boating accidents have decreased, in part because of the Boating Safety Act of 1996, boating education classes and Drew’s Law. In 2018, South Carolina saw 142 recreational boating accidents and 15 recreational boating fatalities. In 2018 and 2017, there were zero private pond fatalities—the boating safety regulations are not enforced on private ponds. However, in 2016, there were 140 boating accidents and 23 fatalities, plus seven fatalities on private ponds.
If you were injured in a boating accident or you lost a loved one in a boating accident, contact Hughey Law Firm for a free consultation today.
Causes of Boating Accident Injuries
Boating injuries could happen to anyone anytime and on any type of boat. With some types of boats, injuries may be more prevalent, such as on fishing boats, hunting boats or sailboats because of the type of equipment found on those boats. For example, a winch cable on a fishing boat could snap and take a body part off or a boom on a sailboat could knock someone out or even overboard. Other causes of accidents include:
Getting run over: If someone falls overboard he or she could be run over by a boat, either the boat they fell off of or another nearby boat.
Getting hurt by the propeller: A swimmer or someone working on or near the propeller could suffer from injuries from the propeller, even if it is not moving. The blades are sharp and could easily cut someone.
Falling overboard: People could fall off any boat. Depending on the height of the fall, injuries could be minor or catastrophic.
Slipping and falling: Because the deck is often wet, people could easily slip and fall. Additionally, any equipment or play toy, raft or other items on the deck could be a tripping hazard. Injuries could occur from falling on a hard surface or falling overboard.
Boating crashes and DUI: Just as vehicles must obey traffic regulations, so do boaters. This includes keeping in your lane—red right returning—and not drinking while you are piloting a boat. Irresponsible behavior by other boaters could cause you to be injured in a boat crash accident.
You may recover current and future medical expenses, current and future lost wages, property damages, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of consortium and punitive damages in certain types of boating accidents. Punitive damages are only awarded if the behavior of the person who caused the accident was grossly negligent, such as boating under the influence.
Types of Accident Injuries
Accident injuries could range from minor bruising to more catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injury or even amputation. Boating accident injuries may include:
Bruises, cuts scrapes and lacerations: While these types of injuries generally heal quickly, if an open wound gets infected, it could take much longer to heal and could cause other complications. If you have an underlying medical issue that prevents you from healing quickly, such as diabetes, the wound will take longer to heal and you have a higher chance of it getting infected.
Dismemberment: You could lose a limb or even your head if you are struck by a propeller or by a piece of equipment such as a winch cable.
Internal injuries: Equipment that hits you hard enough or punctures you, including the propeller and commercial fishing or hunting equipment, could cause internal injuries.
Drowning: If a person falls overboard and suffers serious injuries, he or she could drown. A person that falls overboard and who is not a strong swimmer or cannot swim at all could also drown. Even a strong swimmer could risk drowning if the waters are rough when he or she falls overboard.
Sprains, strains and pulled muscles: These injuries usually heal within four to six weeks. However, if you pulled a muscle off the bone, you could need surgery to repair it. Recovery could be as long as three to four months.
Broken bones: You could suffer a fracture or a compound fracture. Compound fractures have an open wound caused by the bone. These could get infected, causing recovery to take longer.
Catastrophic injuries: These injuries include traumatic brain injuries and spine, back and neck injuries. Depending on the injury, you could require months of recovery plus physical and/or occupational therapy.
Many people think of small boats when they hear about boating accidents. However, boating accidents could happen on any type of vessel, including:
Commercial boats, such as those used by commercial fishermen;
Personal watercraft, including jet skis;
Shrimp boats and other types of special commercial fishing boats;
Pontoon boats, especially those with a top deck and a slide;
Cruise boats; and
Water skiing and other speed boats.
Not all boating accidents happen while you are on the boat. Accidents may happen at the dock or marina, whether you are getting a boat ready or boarding a cruise boat. It’s easy to trip over a rope or to slip on a wet dock. If people are fishing on the dock, you could get caught up in their fishing gear.
Deck and marina accidents may include slip and falls, drowning or other actions that could lead to serious injuries or even death.
Contact Hughey Law Firm if a Charleston Boat Accident Hurt You
If you were injured in a Charleston boating accident or you lost a loved one in a boating accident, contact Hughey Law Firm at (843) 881-8644 for a free consultation and to learn more about your rights.
Hughey Law Firm LLC
1311 Chuck Dawley Blvd. | Suite 201
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
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