If you suffered injuries in a Lowcountry boating accident, you could hold the at-fault party legally responsible and recover compensation for your losses. South Carolina law allows victims to file insurance claims or sue negligent boaters for these incidents. One of our Charleston boating accident lawyers from Louthian Law Firm, P.A. may help you.
We could take action on your behalf to recover money for your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and more. You have rights, and we can help protect them. Contact us online or by phone for a free case review with a team member. Our Charleston personal injury lawyers can assess your options and explain how our attorneys help with these cases.
Your Injuries and Recoverable Damages After a Charleston Boat Accident
Charleston boating accidents can cause a wide range of injuries. Those with the most serious injuries may face thousands of dollars in medical bills after they get to the nearest trauma center (often, Medical University of South Carolina Health or MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital). Victims then receive an injury assessment and stabilization before doctors build a plan to treat their injuries.
Some victims also require hospitalization, surgery, therapy, inpatient rehabilitation, and ongoing care and support.
Catastrophic, life-altering injuries are possible after a boat crash and can include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI) and paralysis
- Traumatic amputation
- Drowning injuries, including cognitive concerns and brain injuries
Those with significant injuries could miss months of work. Others may never be able to return to their previous job. This can cause major financial stress for the affected families.
Louthian Law Firm, P.A. Can Seek Damages for Your Injuries
Under South Carolina law, when someone acts carelessly or recklessly and hurts another, the victim can hold the at-fault party responsible for their expenses and losses. At Louthian Law Firm, P.A., we usually help clients do so by filing an insurance claim based on that party’s liability insurance policy or suing them in a Berkeley, Charleston, or Dorchester County civil court.
Each case is unique and entails its own expenses and losses, which the victim needs to recover. We seek a fair settlement for our clients, taking their recoverable expenses and losses into account.
Damages covered by a settlement or verdict could include:
- Medical bills
- Future care costs, as estimated by your doctors or medical experts
- Lost income
- Reduced ability to work and earn an income
- Miscellaneous expenses
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
When a boating accident victim passes away from their injuries, South Carolina law allows family members to receive compensation for their wrongful death losses. This could include outstanding expenses, income losses, and non-economic damages. Our attorneys handle these legal actions and help families recover the compensation they need to pay their bills—and not worry about lost income during this difficult time.
How Our Charleston Boating Accident Attorneys Hold a Boater Liable
Our attorneys at Louthian Law Firm, P.A. have helped many personal injury victims build cases and hold the at-fault party liable. This includes many boating accident victims. We’ve won millions for past injury victims—and as a result, we know where to look for evidence and how to develop a strong case to show that the at-fault party acted negligently and bears liability for your injuries.
Like other personal injury cases, we generally need evidence to show that negligence occurred in your Charleston boating accident case. There are four elements required to show negligence.
In a boating accident, these include:
- The accused boater owed you a certain duty of care, usually under South Carolina or federal boating laws or other regulations.
- They violated this duty of care.
- Their action or inaction caused the incident.
- You suffered physical, emotional, and financial harm because of the incident.
In a boating accident, the evidence available may vary widely compared to similar incidents. It sometimes proves difficult to survey the accident scene, for example. In other cases, officials did not interview witnesses from other vessels on the scene, so we do not know their identities or contact information.
Evidence Our Attorneys Can Use to Build Your Case
Some of the evidence we hope to gather when investigating a Charleston boating accident includes:
- The official report filed by the investigating agency
- Eyewitness statements
- Physical evidence
- Information about each boater operator’s experience and training
- Details about each vessel, including if it was a rental boat
- Any alcohol or drug testing results available
- Accident reconstruction
- A survey of the scene
- Photos or video of the incident or scene
- Relevant medical records
- Proof of damages suffered
Using this evidence, we can build a strong argument to show the accused boat operator acted carelessly or recklessly and caused the accident. We must convince their insurer or a jury that they caused the accident and bear liability.
If a boat operator violated federal or South Carolina laws and they face criminal charges, the outcome of the criminal case will not directly affect your insurance claim or civil lawsuit. However, the evidence used in this criminal case could support your claim and help us show negligence.
Navigating the Claims Process With Help From Our Charleston Law Firm
Our Charleston boat accident attorneys often recover fair and just compensation for our clients by demanding money damages from the at-fault party’s insurance company and negotiating until we reach an agreement. We need to navigate many steps to get justice for you through this process.
Investigating Your Case
We begin with an investigation and build the case. As a part of this, we must identify your recoverable damages and calculate what a fair settlement offer will look like. Knowing when the insurance company representative makes a fair offer is essential. You cannot recognize whether an offer is appropriate without knowing your expenses and losses—including the value of your intangible damages.
We use this estimated settlement range to craft a demand letter to the insurer. This letter outlines your claim against the boat operator or another liable party.
It includes details of what happened, when, and how much you expect to receive. Insurers can react to this demand letter in several ways:
- Accept the demand and issue payment
- Deny the claim
- Counter-offer with a lower settlement—a more common result
Our legal team uses proven negotiation techniques and continues exchanges with the insurer until we can hopefully reach an agreement for a fair settlement based on the facts of your case.
Negotiating a Settlement or Filing a Lawsuit
We can often file an insurance claim and negotiate a fair settlement. However, sometimes a lawsuit proves necessary. If we believe you should sue in your Charleston boating accident case, we can discuss it with you and review your options. When we file a lawsuit in a Charleston-area court, we handle all aspects of the legal case and can ensure you know what to expect every step of the way.
Some of the reasons why we may need to file a lawsuit include:
- The boat operator does not have insurance coverage.
- The insurer denies the claim.
- The insurer will not offer a fair settlement.
- We hope to secure punitive damages when available in rare cases.
- Time is running out to file the legal complaint in the appropriate court.
- Other circumstances could make a lawsuit necessary.
You should know that filing a lawsuit does not mean the case will go to trial. Many of our clients never need to make a court appearance. Even when we sue, we often negotiate settlements out of court or through mediation or arbitration.
However, our trial attorneys can take the case before a judge and jury when necessary. You can count on our team to present strong evidence and aggressively pursue a verdict and award on your behalf.
When Should I Call a Law Firm About My Charleston Boat Accident Injuries?
Our Louthian Law Firm, P.A. personal injury lawyers can often identify and collect stronger evidence when we work on a case quickly after the incident. There are also other reasons why we need to get to work soon. For example, the state sets deadlines for beginning a lawsuit. This deadline applies to filing the initial complaint in Charleston County civil court.
According to South Carolina law, you only have a limited time to begin a lawsuit against the at-fault party in your case. Usually, you have three years in both personal injury and wrongful death cases. However, some exceptions exist, so you should speak with our team as soon as possible to learn more. Missing this deadline could mean losing your right to sue the at-fault boat operator or another liable party for your accident injuries.
Getting to work quickly is important for still other reasons. Some types of evidence disappear quickly, and losing access to them could make it more difficult to develop a solid case for compensation.
- Businesses often record over security videos
- Witnesses may delete videos or photos
- Physical evidence may not stay near the crash scene if not collected
- Eyewitnesses could move, change phone numbers, or forget what they saw
Of course, you also want to get started as soon as possible because you will begin receiving medical bills and missing paychecks within a few weeks of your injuries. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that your case will settle quickly. However, you will not receive compensation until you file your claim or lawsuit and begin the settlement process.
What Causes Charleston Boating Accidents?
South Carolina has nearly 3,000 miles of coastline—including the beaches near Charleston— and 370,000 acres of water reservoirs. Unsurprisingly, recreational boating, water skiing, and fishing are popular for locals and visitors alike. However, a fun afternoon on the lake or ocean can go wrong quickly. Unfortunately, many people suffer injuries in recreational boating accidents each year.
Nationally, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) reported more than 5,000 recreational boating accidents in 2020.
The agency’s annual statistics include:
- 5,265 accidents
- 767 deaths
- 3,191 injuries
- $62.5 million in property damages
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources reported 146 recreational boating accidents and 14 deaths in 2019. This includes incidents on the Ashley River, Cooper River, Folly River, Shem Creek, Stono River, Charleston Harbor, and other waterways across the state. The 2019 numbers look very similar to the 2018 statistics, with 142 accidents and 15 fatalities. This is the most recent data available from this agency.
Charleston boating accidents and injuries occur when:
- Boats collide with other vessels
- Boats run aground or collide with fixed objects
- Passengers fall onboard
- Passengers fall overboard
- Boats hit swimmers or non-motorized crafts
While boating accidents occur for many reasons, common reasons include untrained, drunk, or distracted boaters.
This could include:
- Lack of experience in the waterway or the vessel type
- Drunk or drugged boating
- Excessive speed
- Attempting maneuvers above their skill level
- Reckless operation
- Distractions that cause failure to see smaller boats, kayaks, or swimmers
According to the USCG, about 18 percent of all 2020 boating fatalities occurred when at least one of the boat operators was under the influence of alcohol. This means more than 100 people died from drinking behind a boat’s wheel. This was the most common factor in fatal boating accidents.
In many crashes, then, the at-fault boater was drinking or engaging in other bad behavior that caused the accident and injuries. When this occurs, the victims could hold the at-fault operator legally liable and recover compensation.
Speak With Louthian Law Firm, P.A. About Your Options for Free
You can discuss your case with a team member from Louthian Law Firm, P.A. for free today. Our firm provides complimentary initial consultations to explain your rights and options and answer your questions.