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Charleston, SC Car Accident Attorney
The Hartman Law Firm

The Hartman Law Firm, LCC is Charleston, South Carolina's Boating Accident Attorney

Boating Accidents

In 2017 the U.S. Coast Guard country 4,291 recreational boating accidents

2,629 boating injuries

658 boating accident deaths

Causes of Boating Accidents

  • Alcohol and drug use

  • Excessive Speed

  • Failure to ventilate the boat or equipment

  • Missing or insufficient navigation aids

  • Failing to properly observe other boaters (i.e., improper lookout)

  • On-board navigation lights that do not work properly

  • Boat operator inattention

  • Overly congested waterways

  • Inexperience of the boat operator

  • Restricted vision

  • Sharp turns

  • Machinery or Hull failure

  • Bad weather

  • Improperly anchoring the boat

  • Loading the boat incorrectly such as distributing weight improperly or overloading the boat

  • Equipment failure

  • Hull failure

  • Machinery failure

  • Hazardous waters, including waves or wakes

  • Bad weather

  • Fires caused by spilled fuel or vapors igniting

What are the top reasons for boating accidents?

Human error, improper boat maintenance, or boat defects.

Can there be more than one defendant in a boating accident case?

Definitely. Circumstances where there may be more than one defendant in a boating accident case are:

  • Being a passenger on a boat where your friend or acquaintance was driving while intoxicated, failed to follow proper procedure, or didn't act with reasonable boat driver care
  • A boat collision caused by another vessel, such as another boat or a jet-ski
  • A defect in the design or build of the boat that caused the boat to fail, crash, or sink
  • Contracting with a boat repair person or business who didn't properly maintain your boat.

If I was also drinking while boating, am I partly responsible for the boating accident?

It depends on the circumstances under which the accident occurred. It is always best to just call our office and take advantage of the free 20-minute strategy session.

What are South Carolina's BUI Laws?

Boating Under the Influence (BUI) laws in South Carolina are:

It is illegal to operate a motorized watercraft, including sailboats, while under the influence of any mind-altering substance. That includes alcohol and drugs.

You do not need to have a breathalyzer to determine if you are impaired. It is at the law enforcement's discretion to determine if you are too impaired to be operating a watercraft.

The penalties for a first-time BUI are as follows:

For a first offense, by a fine of two hundred dollars or imprisonment for not less than forty-eight hours nor more than thirty days. However, in lieu of the forty-eight hour minimum imprisonment, the court may provide for forty-eight hours of public service employment. The minimum forty-eight hour imprisonment or public service employment must be served at a time when it does not interfere with the offender's regular employment under terms and conditions, as the court considers proper. However, the court may not compel an offender to perform public service employment instead of the minimum sentence;

The penalties for a second BUI are as follows:

For a second offense, by a fine of not less than two thousand dollars nor more than five thousand dollars and imprisonment for not less than forty-eight hours nor more than one year. However, the fine imposed by this item may not be suspended in an amount less than one thousand dollars. Instead of service of imprisonment, the court may require that the individual complete an appropriate term of public service employment of not less than ten days upon terms and conditions the court considers proper. Upon imposition of a sentence of public service, the defendant may apply to the court to be allowed to perform his public service in his county of residence if he has been sentenced to public service in a county where he does not reside;

The penalties for a third BUI are:

By a fine of not less than three thousand five hundred dollars nor more than six thousand dollars and imprisonment for not less than sixty days nor more than three years.

(C) Any person convicted of operating a water device in violation of subsection (A), in addition to any other penalties, must be prohibited by the department from operating any water device within this State for six months for the first conviction, one year for the second conviction, and two years for the third conviction. Only those violations, which occurred within ten years including and immediately preceding the date of the last violation, shall constitute prior violations within the meaning of this section.

A person whose privilege is suspended under the provisions of this section must be notified by the department of the suspension and of the requirement to enroll in and successfully complete an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program certified by the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services prior to reinstatement of the privilege. An assessment of the extent and nature of the alcohol and drug abuse problem, if any, of the applicant must be prepared and a plan of education or treatment, or both, must be developed based upon the assessment. Entry into and successful completion of the services, if such services are necessary, recommended in the plan of education or treatment, or both, developed for the applicant is a mandatory requirement of the restoration of privileges to the applicant. The Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program shall determine if the applicant has successfully completed the services. The Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services shall determine the cost of services provided by each certified Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. Each applicant shall bear the cost of services recommended in the applicant's plan of education or treatment. The cost of services must be within the limits set forth in Section 56-5-2990(C). No applicant may be denied services due to an inability to pay. Inability to pay for services may not be used as a factor in determining if the applicant has successfully completed services. If the applicant has not successfully completed the services as directed by the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program within one year of enrollment, a hearing must be provided by the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program and if further needed by the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services

Boating Accidents in the Charleston, South Carolina Ocean Waters

Countless numbers of boaters take advantage of the Cooper River or the Atlantic Ocean and other small streams throughout the Charleston area. Unfortunately, boating accidents occur too often on these waterways.

Sometimes, these accidents can’t be helped. Bad weather can be a factor, however, a boating accident may be caused by the driver’s negligence or some defect in the boat or its equipment.

According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, 141 boat crashes occurred in Charleston in 2008. These boat wrecks led to 61 injuries and 29 fatalities.

The majority of South Carolina boating accident deaths result from drowning, and most victims were not wearing a life jacket. Also, statistics show that fatal boat crashes more likely occur when boaters lack proper safety instruction. For instance, the Coast Guard indicates that only 11 percent of the fatalities in 2011 occurred on boats where the boat operator had reviewed boating safety instructions.

Causes of Charleston Boating Accidents

The U.S. Coast Guard data shows a clear link between deaths and a lack of boating safety knowledge. But there are many causes of boating accidents. According to U.S. Coast Guard data, common causes of boating crashes include:

  • Alcohol and drug use

  • Excessive speed

  • Failure to ventilate the boat or equipment

  • Failing to properly observe other boaters (i.e., improper lookout)

  • On-board navigation lights that do not work properly

  • Boat operator inattention

  • Inexperience of the boat operator

  • Restricted vision

  • Infraction of the rules of the “road,” including right-of-way rules

  • Sharp turns

  • Starting the boat in gear

  • Improperly anchoring the boat

  • Loading the boat incorrectly such as distributing weight improperly or overloading the boat

  • Equipment failure

  • Hull failure

  • Machinery failure

  • Overly congested waterways

  • Hazardous waters, including waves or wakes

  • Bad weather

  • Missing or insufficient navigation aids

  • Fires caused by spilled fuel or vapors igniting.

In some cases, a combination of these factors may contribute to an accident that injures or harms someone.

We Hold Negligent Boaters Accountable

Human error, improper boat maintenance, or boat defects are most often the reason for most boating accidents. If any of these factors played a role in an accident that injured you or caused the death of a loved one, you may be able to seek legal relief. Possible scenarios include:

Being the passenger on a boat where your friend or acquaintance is driving while intoxicated, failed to follow proper procedure, or did not act with the reasonable care that any boat driver should exhibit. You may be able to make a claim against the boat operator for negligence.

If you are involved in a boat collision caused by another vessel, such as a boat or jet-ski, you may have a claim against the driver of the other boat. This, too, would be a negligence case.

If there is a defect in the design or build of the boat that caused the event, you may be able to hold the manufacturer or seller of the boat responsible. We would need to bring a product liability case against the manufacturer on your behalf.

If you contracted with someone to repair your boat. If that person failed to properly repair or maintain the boar or failed to identify broken or damaged parts, he could be held responsible for negligent maintenance.

If you were involved in a boating accident that was caused by negligence or a boat defect, you may be entitled to compensation. The Charleston boating accident lawyers at Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. can help. With offices conveniently located in Charleston, we have helped numerous boat crash victims throughout the state. We have the expertise and knowledge about boat wrecks to help you win the largest amount of compensation possible given your situation.

Our Charleston boating accident attorneys can help you to determine which legal theory or theories are best to make your claim after a boat wreck.

Contact the Hartman Law Firm now for your free 20-minute consultation

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