Boating Accidents in South Carolina

With 8,000 miles of river, 460,000 acres of lakes, and 3,000 miles of beautiful coastline, South Carolina attracts industry and tourists from around the United States. But the same waters that are a source of economic benefit and pleasure can be the scene of tragic accidents.
Nearly 400,000 boats are registered in the state, and that number does not include personal water craft such as JetSkis. The U.S. Coast Guard, which keeps statistics on serious recreational boating accidents, reports hundreds of South Carolina boating accidents each year. Those SC boating accidents kill dozens and injured many others.

The majority of deaths in boating accidents are due to drowning, and 85% of those victims were not wearing a life jacket. Most accidents involve motorboats, but personal watercraft also account for about one-fifth of boating catastrophes. The most common type of boating accident is collision, either with another vehicle or with a stationary object.

If you or someone you care about was hurt or killed in a South Carolina boating accident, contact the Louthian Law Firm today at (803) 454-1200 for a free evaluation of your case.

What are the main causes of boating accidents?

According to Coast Guard reports for 2014, the top ten factors that contribute to boating accidents are:

  • Operator inattention
  • Operator inexperience
  • Improper lookout
  • Machinery failure
  • Excessive speed
  • Navigation rules violation
  • Alcohol use
  • Force of wave or wake
  • Weather
  • Hazardous waters.

While operator inattention caused the most accidents, alcohol use caused the most fatalities.

How can boating accidents be avoided?

Most boat accidents are caused by simple carelessness. Almost all can be prevented by a responsible, experienced boat operator who cares enough to ensure that the boat is as safe as possible before it leaves port. Adults do not need a boating safety certification to operate watercraft in South Carolina, but boat operators under age 16 are required to complete a boating course approved by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources to operate a boat or personal watercraft with a 15 horsepower motor or greater, unless accompanied by an adult age 18 years or older. South Carolina regulations also require all boats to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved wearable type PFD (personal flotation device) for each person on board or being towed. Help prevent water fatalities by wearing the life jacket and having your passengers do so as well.

Boating Safety Tips


What should I do if I’m in a boating accident?

Boating accident law can be complex. All the same laws that apply to vehicle accidents on the land apply to recreational injuries and accidents — but special laws may apply on a commercial vessel, even a small charter boat. That’s why it’s imperative to speak with the Louthian Law Firm if you or someone you love has been hurt in a boating accident.

We can help evaluate your case, protect your right to sue and get the best possible financial outcome from your case. And because we know injured people are often stretched thin financially, we always offer free consultations to potential clients. To speak with an experienced Columbia SC boat accident lawyer, call our office at (803) 454-1200 or fill out our convenient online case evaluation form.