After a boat accident, you should do what you would do after any vehicle accident to ensure safety and protect your damage claim. South Carolina's Atlantic shoreline and its many rivers and lakes provide plenty of opportunities for recreational boating. Unfortunately, along with the pleasure of boating comes the risk of a boat accident, and even a minor accident on the water can result in tragedy if someone drowns.
When a day of boating fun is ruined by a boat crash, it's important for you to know exactly what to do, not only to keep your passengers and yourself safe but also to protect your legal claim for damages if the boat accident is caused by someone else.
What to Do After a South Carolina Boat Accident
Your first priority after a boat wreck is to see to the safety of all passengers. Anyone who does not have a life jacket or flotation device should be given one. If you're physically able to do so, you should first assist anyone who's fallen into the water since the majority of boating accident fatalities result from drowning.
You should also have a first-aid kit on board to clean and bandage cuts, scratches, or other minor injuries to the best of your ability. If someone has sustained damage to the neck or spine, don't attempt to move that person unless it's absolutely necessary to prevent drowning or further injury. Once you've seen to everyone's safety, stay at the scene and take the following steps:
Seek Medical Attention
If you've been involved in a boat accident, your first priority should be seeking medical attention. Even if you feel like you're okay, getting checked out by a medical professional is essential. Some injuries, such as concussions, may not be immediately apparent but can have serious long-term effects. Additionally, a record of your injuries is crucial if you file a claim.
Document the Accident
Get contact information, vessel identification numbers, and the names of insurers from any other boat operators involved in your accident. You should also get contact information from passengers and any other witnesses to the accident. Do not discuss the boating crash, argue, or admit any fault for the accident to anyone.
Photographs of the vessels involved, their damage, their identification numbers, their positions, any passengers' injuries, and the scene of the accident are very helpful in the investigation of the crash to determine the liability of the at-fault boater and the damages resulting from the accident.
Report Your Boating Accident
In South Carolina, boating accidents must be reported to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) if they result in injury, death, or property damage exceeding $500. You can do this by filling out a Boating Accident Report Form, which can be found on the DNR's website. However, even if the accident doesn't meet these criteria, it's still a good idea to report it to the authorities.
Contact Your Insurance Company
If you have boat insurance, contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident. Your insurance company will guide you through the claims process and help you understand your coverage. If you don't have boat insurance, it's still essential to contact your insurance company, as they may be able to provide coverage through other policies.
Consult a South Carolina Boat Accident Lawyer
In addition to having knowledge of maritime law that the average person does not have, an experienced boat accident attorney will know how to:
- Investigate your accident to prove any liability
- Interview passengers and other witnesses to the boat accident
- Obtain video footage of the boat accident if you happened to be near a security camera on the shoreline or mounted on a dock
- Consult with your doctors, organize your medical evidence, and present it convincingly to an insurer or the court if necessary
- Put a monetary value on your pain and suffering to evaluate your case
- Demand a fair settlement from the defendant's insurer and negotiate compensation
- File a lawsuit and take your case to trial if necessary to obtain fair compensation
Have You Or A Loved One Been Injured In A Boat or Jet Ski Accident?
If you've been injured in a boating accident or a jet ski accident in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, or Pawleys Island, you should speak with an accident injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at (843) 314-4202 for a free consultation.