Sadly, older Americans are not only subject to the same crimes as their younger compatriots, they are often specifically targeted. It’s important for people of all ages to know how to report a crime against the elderly. This information may prove to be critical in getting a parent, a neighbor, a colleague, or a friend the help they need.

How to Report a Crime Against the Elderly

How you report suspected elder abuse depends on the type and severity of the crime. If you believe someone is in imminent danger, call 9-1-1 right away to get immediate assistance. If you believe the person has been scammed or is the victim of a longer-term crime but is not in urgent, life-threatening danger, there are other resources that may be more appropriate.

  • The Eldercare Locator is a national site than can connect you with various eldercare services in your state.
  • The National Center on Elder Abuse website is a comprehensive resource with links to adult protective services in every state.

A mandated reporter is someone who is required by law to report suspicions of elder abuse. In most states, only certain categories of people — such as doctors and other health care workers — are mandated reporters. In eight states, anyone who suspects wrongdoing is required to contact the authorities. But no matter where you live, it’s the right thing to do.

What Are Crimes Against the Elderly?

You may be wondering, what are crimes against the elderly? The U.S. Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative (EDI) defines elder abuse as “an intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult.” Elderly people are one of the populations most susceptible to crime and abuse, and criminals take full advantage of their vulnerabilities. It’s estimated that 10% of older Americans are victimized every year. And older people may not report that they’ve been victimized, either because they are embarrassed or because they can’t due to cognitive disability.

Types of Crimes Against the Elderly

Elder abuse comes in many forms. Here are a few of the more common types of crimes against the elderly.

Physical abuse. Physical abuse may occur at the hands of a spouse, relative, guardian, or any caregiver. Signs of physical abuse include:

  • The victim reports being abused
  • Black eye, bruising, lacerations, welts, open wounds
  • Fractured or broken bones
  • Injuries in various stages of healing
  • Sprains or dislocated joints
  • Internal injuries
  • Broken glasses
  • Signs of being restrained or punished
  • A sudden change in behavior
  • A caregiver isolates the victim
  • Indications of sexual abuse.

Financial fraud or exploitation. People may try to steal an elderly person’s identity, misuse power of attorney, or take control of finances without their knowledge. Signs of financial fraud include:

  • An elderly person reports being defrauded
  • A suspicious change in banking activity
  • Unexplained bank withdrawals by a person accompanying the elder, including unauthorized ATM transactions
  • Another person’s name is added to a bank signature card
  • Sudden change in a will or other financial documents
  • The elder’s signature is forged on financial documents and property titles
  • An elderly person’s bills are not being paid or they are given substandard care despite adequate financial resources
  • Relatives come out of the woodwork to claim their supposed right to the elder’s resources
  • Unexplained transfer of assets to a relative or other person.

Scams and exploitation. Older people are highly vulnerable to scammers — and once they realize they have been taken advantage of, they may be too ashamed to speak up. The EJI outlines a few common types of schemes:

  • Social Security Administration imposter scammers tell victims over the phone that their social security number has been suspended. The target is asked to confirm his or her SSN and may be told that they must withdraw money from their bank account to keep it safe.
  • Tech support scams may be initiated over the phone or via an internet pop-up. The victim is told their computer has been compromised. A “tech support” person requests remote access to the computer, pretends to diagnose a problem, then tells the target they must pay for the computer to be fixed.
  • Lottery scammers tell victims they have won a high-value prize in a foreign lottery — the catch being that they must pay shipping, duties, or other fees before claiming their winnings.
  • IRS imposter scams tell victims over the phone that they owe money to the IRS that must be paid immediately. The target is told that if they don’t comply they face arrest, deportation, or other consequence.
  • A romance scam uses the popularity of online dating sites. Scammers take advantage of elderly people looking for love by creating a credible profile, building a relationship over a period of time, and finally asking for money.

Neglect and abandonment. A family member or caregiver doesn’t have to hit or otherwise use violence to fail in their duty of care. Here are a few signs of neglect or abandonment:

  • The elder reports being neglected
  • Untreated medical conditions or health problems
  • Dehydration and malnutrition
  • Poor hygiene
  • Bed sores left untreated
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Desertion of an elderly person.

Nursing home abuse. Nursing home abuse is not one type of abuse. It may overlap with the above categories with the only requirement being that it must take place in a licensed care facility. Here are a few crimes against the elderly that occur in nursing facilities:

  • Physical, psychological, verbal, and sexual abuse
  • Neglect and failure to provide for the resident’s basic needs
  • Medication errors
  • Financial exploitation and abuse

When abuse does occur in a nursing home, the facility may be found liable for your loved one’s mistreatment. It’s important to discuss your case with an experienced nursing home lawyer.

How to report a crime against the elderly is important to know for the safety of your older family members, friends, and neighbors. If you believe your loved one has been the victim of a crime, contact the SC elder abuse lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm by calling (803) 454-1200.

June is National Safety Month, sponsored by the National Safety Council. This annual event seeks to bring attention to leading causes of injuries and fatalities at home, at work and on our roadways and what can be done to prevent them.

To recognize the month, it’s a good time to consider the question: How safe are you and your family? If you aren’t sure, read on for steps you can take to help keep yourself and your family safe.

At Home

Trip, slips and falls are major sources of injuries, especially for older adults, so check your home’s interior and exterior for tripping perils like clutter on floors, puddles on driveways and exposed tree roots. Also, check that stairs are well-lit and handrails are in good working order.

Some other steps to take to promote a safe living environment include:

  • Checking smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure batteries are in good working order.
  • Making sure fire extinguishers are operational and that you know how to use them.
  • Keeping medicines, cleaning solvents and other potentially lethal products stored where children cannot reach them.
  • Supervising children around swimming pools, bathtubs and other bodies of water.
  • Putting a family safety plan in place that includes evacuation route instructions in case of fire or other disasters and includes emergency phone numbers for police, fire, poison control and local hospitals and healthcare providers.

On the Road

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, nearly one-third of roadway fatalities in the state in 2017 involved drunk driving. Steer well clear of vehicles near you on the roadway that display common signs that an impaired driver might be at the wheel, including swerving, running stop signs and lights, driving without headlights and slowing and speeding up for no reason. Don’t drink and drive, and talk to your kids about the dangers of impaired driving. Also, don’t text and drive, which is a major cause of car accidents. Always model safe driving behaviors to children and teens.

When driving, always insist that everyone in your car wears seatbelts and that infants and young children are restrained in car or booster seats in accordance with South Carolina law:

  • Infants under two should be in rear-facing car seats in the back seat.
  • Children at least two years old (or younger who have outgrown their rear-facing seat) should be restrained in a forward-facing car seat.
  • Kids who are at least four years old (or who have outgrown their prior seat) should be in booster seats in the back seat until they fit into an adult seatbelt, which is generally at eight years of age or 57 inches tall.

In the Workplace

Stay safe at work by getting a good night’s sleep. Fatigued workers are more accident prone; and if you work around machinery or at heights, being tired can be especially dangerous. Falls in the workplace are preventable, but many people die or are injured by them every year. Just like you would at home, identify tripping hazards at work and fix them or make management aware of them. If you work from heights on ladders or scaffolding, ensure that equipment is properly set up before you use it. Also, be sure you are adequately trained if you are asked to perform what could be a dangerous job. If you aren’t, bring it to the attention of your supervisor.

By being aware of hazards around you and how to address them, you can help to keep yourself and your family safe during safety month and all year long.

Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys

If you’ve suffered an injury due to negligence, our knowledgeable attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm in Columbia are here to help you. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Spring is here, the weather is warming up, and South Carolinians in Columbia and throughout the state are ready to get out on the water. In recognition of National Safe Boating Week, which is May 18-24, and to help reduce accidents, it’s a good idea to kick off boating season with a safety checklist to ensure that you and your boat are water-ready. Investing a little time now in accident prevention may save lives later.

Boating Accident Statistics

In 2017 there were nearly 4,300 recreational boating accidents throughout the country, in which 658 people died and another 2,629 were injured, according to the latest official accident data from the U.S. Coast Guard. Drowning was the cause of death in four out of five fatalities, and 84.5 percent of people who drowned were not wearing life jackets. The top contributing factors in boating accidents were inattention, improper lookout, inexperience, machinery failure and alcohol use.

Boating Safety Checklist

To ensure that your boat is ready before taking the helm, you might consider scheduling a free vessel safety check with your local Coast Guard Auxiliary. If you are new to boating, or even if you are a seasoned boat operator, taking a boating safety course is never a bad idea. Coast Guard statistics for 2017 show that only 14 percent of fatalities were on boats where operators had taken boating safety courses. Also, boaters under 16 years old are required to take a safety class before driving a boat without supervision.

Here is a checklist for boats and boaters:

Be sure your boat is equipped with the following —

  • Life jackets for everyone on board and anyone being towed
  • Flotation cushion, life ring buoy or other throwable flotation device on boats 16 feet and longer
  • Fire extinguisher or more than one extinguisher depending upon the boat’s size
  • At least two communication devices that work while wet
  • Working navigation lights, which must be on between sunset and sunrise
  • A bell, whistle or other sound-producing device for boats less than 39.4 feet long. Vessels larger than that—from 39.4-65.6–feet must carry a whistle and a bell.
  • Flares for boats navigating in coastal waters.

Operators and passengers can help stay safe with these tips —

  • Check the weather before heading out and during your trip.
  • Dress for weather conditions and bring a set of extra clothes in case you get wet.
  • Wear your life jacket. While not required except for children under 12, it’s smart for everyone to wear life jackets while boating instead of wasting time putting them on should an accident occur.
  • Travel at safe speeds. According to South Carolina law, boats must be operated at idle speed within 50 feet of an anchored boat, a person in the water, a dock, wharf or pier, or within 100 yards of the coastline.
  • Don’t operate a boat while distracted or while under the influence of alcohol.
  • File a float plan with details about your trip with someone on land.

Seeking Help

If, in spite of your diligent preparations, you are the unfortunate victim of a boating accident, our experienced personal injury attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm in Columbia are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

A recent report on CBS’s 60 Minutes shined a big spotlight on railroad safety. The report highlights several crashes over the past few years that some experts say could have been prevented if positive train control had been in place.

What Is Positive Train Control?

Positive train control, or PTC, is an advanced system that uses GPS and other technologies to prevent derailments by speeding trains, accidents from track switches being in the wrong position, and train-to-train crashes. Basically, it applies automatic braking in dangerous situations. The system was originally mandated by the U.S. Congress to be in place on all major railroads beginning in 2015. However, that mandate was later extended to 2020.

The mandate to implement PTC was originally put in place after a head-to-head crash between two trains in Chatsworth, California, that killed 25 people and injured 135 in 2008. Since that time, according to the 60 Minutes report, there have been 22 more train crashes that resulted in 29 more people losing their lives and over 500 injuries.

Cayce Crash

One of those 22 crashes that South Carolinians will remember was last year’s collision in Cayce between a CSX freight train and an Amtrak passenger train. The crash was caused by a track switch left in the wrong position and killed two crew members on the Amtrak train and injured dozens of people. Since the wreck, which safety experts said could have been prevented using positive train control, the system has reportedly been put in place on all major tracks in the state. The tracks are operated by CSX and Norfolk Southern. Amtrak also reportedly has the technology in place for its trains going through the state to interact with the system. The implementation of PTC is a positive step.

Other Rail Safety Concerns

While positive train control can stop many train accidents from happening, it can’t prevent all of them. Sometimes safety issues outside of what PTC can control are at play. One of the most common causes of fatalities related to trains are railroad crossings, where trains may crash with cars, trucks, buses and other motor vehicles, as well as pedestrians. Hundreds of people die each year in these accidents and hundreds more are injured. Sometimes the crossings are poorly designed, making it difficult or confusing for motorists to see approaching trains, and sometimes rail crossing arms malfunction.

Broken tracks, poorly maintained engines and railcars, mechanical failures on trains and additional dangers cause train wrecks and resulting fatalities and injuries. As exemplified by the Cayce crash, it isn’t only train passengers or people at rail crossings who suffer injuries or are killed. Train workers have a significant death and injury rate. Nationwide in 2018, 17 railroad workers died on the job and nearly 4,000 were injured, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

If you have a complaint about a vehicle defect, you may already have tried filing a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If you’re having trouble getting them to address your concerns, however, it might be time for you to consider filing a defect petition.

A defect petition is a little more in-depth than a conventional complaint, and it doesn’t guarantee an overnight response. But if your complaint is important to you, filing a defect petition will ensure that your complaint gets the consideration it deserves.

What is a Defect Petition?

A defect petition is a complaint you can file with the NHTSA about a defect you may have encountered with your vehicle. This petition could eventually lead to a product recall, if it is found that your vehicle’s defect is a problem with the whole product line rather than your vehicle alone.

When a defect petition is filed, the NHTSA has to do a review of your complaint and issue a written decision on whether or not to begin an in-depth investigation. While this doesn’t guarantee that there will be an in-depth investigation or that your complaint will lead to a recall, it does require the administration to justify their decision to investigate or not.

Defect petitions are fairly rare. As of December 6, 2018, for example, only four defect petitions had been filed with the NHTSA nationwide. In addition, defect petitions are fairly low-priority for the NHTSA. According to Matthew Oliver of the North Carolina Consumers Council, “Defect petitions seem to have low priority for the agency, even when submitted with complaint data and/or having the same symptoms as recalls that have already been issued for other vehicles of the same kind.”

The agency disputes this, saying that they take seriously their responsibilities to keep drivers on American highways safe. Regardless, the fact is that when you file a defect petition, your complaint is likely to take some time to resolve.

Filing a Defect Petition

The process of filing a defect petition is more in-depth than filing a standard complaint on the NHTSA website. It is rare for the agency to start a full-scale investigation on the basis of a single conventional complaint. Filing a defect petition can require more information and time investment than a conventional complaint, but it can also be a more effective way of getting the NHTSA to address your concerns.

When a Serious Defect Causes You Harm, Contact Us

Though complaints are powerful tools for consumers, in more serious cases where injuries are caused by faulty parts, product liability claims are the preferred option. In a vehicle-related product liability claim, an injured person seeks payment, typically from the manufacturer, for the injury-related costs they face.

The Louthian Law Firm has represented injured South Carolinians in car accident lawsuits since 1959. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident, it’s important to make sure that you understand your legal rights. South Carolina law can be complex, and there is a deadline for filing a claim. The initial consultation is always free, so reach out to us today by calling us or by filling out our online contact form.

With all its gorgeous golf courses and private communities, certain areas of South Carolina often feel like they’re overrun by golf carts. But these are motorized vehicles — not toys — and anyone who intends to operate one must be aware of the current SC golf cart laws 2019. If you fail to properly register your cart and don’t operate it in a safe, legal manner, you are subject to a fine and even imprisonment.

Can You Drive a Golf Cart on the Road in South Carolina?

If you use a golf cart to get around your neighborhood or local area, you should know that the laws governing the driving of golf carts on public streets have recently changed. South Carolina does not restrict what you do with your golf cart on your own property, but operation on public roads is another matter.

More Usage, More Injuries.

Golf cart usage is rising, and because of that, a rise in golf cart accidents is not far behind. If you violate the law by allowing your underaged, unlicensed kids to drive, by operating the vehicle while impaired, or in any other way, you are putting yourself, your family, and the general public in danger.

Children are at an alarmingly high risk, accounting for about one-third of injuries. In a study at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, researchers analyzed golf cart accident victims younger than 18 who had been treated at the University’s pediatric trauma center over an eight-year period. They found half the injuries to be severe to moderate and a quarter required a stay in the ICU. An earlier study, covering 17 years, found almost 148,000 persons of all ages were treated in emergency departments for injuries related to golf cart usage.

Other golf cart injury statistics include:

  • Children under the age of 16 accounted for almost one-third (31.2 percent) of the injuries.
  • Over the 17-year period studied, injuries rose at a steady pace each year, with a total increase of 132.3 percent.
  • Nearly half of the injuries (47.7 percent) involved soft tissue damage.
  • Roughly 1 in 13 cases (7.8 percent) required hospitalization.
  • About 15 percent of injuries occurred because of golf cart usage on public roads and streets.
  • One in 10 golf cart accidents are rollovers. These accidents usually produce the most serious injuries and deaths.

If golf carts had seat belts, serious injuries in rollovers would likely be fewer, but SC does not require seat belts in golf carts. Few states do.

What’s Legal for Golf Carts in SC?

If you use a golf cart to get around your local area, know our state’s laws if you plan to drive on public streets and roads:

  • You must have a valid driver’s license.
  • You must also have a golf cart permit decal. You will need to show a title, proof of liability insurance, and pay five dollars to SCDMV. Permits must be renewed every five years or if you move.
  • When you operate the golf cart, you must carry your license, registration, and proof of liability insurance with you.
  • You may operate golf carts only during daylight hours.
  • You may drive golf carts only on secondary streets and roads that have speed limits of 35 mph or less. These streets and roads must be within four miles of the address listed on the cart’s registration. You may also drive a golf cart within four miles of an entrance or exit to a gated community. Local ordinances, however, can further restrict distances, so check your locality to be sure.
  • If on an island not accessible by a bridge designed to be used by cars, you may drive your permitted golf cart on any secondary highway and street with a posted speed limit of 35mph or less.
  • You may not drive a golf cart on a bike path.
  • Golf carts must have headlights, tail lights, and blinkers.
  • It is illegal to drink and operate a golf cart. The same DUI laws that apply to motor vehicles also apply to golf carts. Just as you should worry about getting into a car crash if you drive drunk, worry about driving a golf cart in the same way.
  • An unlicensed minor is barred from driving any type of vehicle on a public road in SC, including a golf cart. Only people 16 years or older with a valid driver’s license may operate a golf cart in the state. A minor with no driver’s license is barred from driving any type of vehicle on a public road in SC, including a golf cart. Parents should keep in mind that they will be the liable party if their minor child causes an accident or causes damages or injuries while driving a golf cart illegally.

Rest assured the police will be looking for violators of the new laws, so make it your business to know your golf cart laws! If caught breaking South Carolina golf cart laws, you may be convicted of a misdemeanor and fined up to $200 and even sentenced to up to 30 days in prison!

The Louthian Law Firm: Experts on South Carolina Golf Cart Laws

Bert Louthian and Herb Louthian are experienced personal injury attorneys with a thorough knowledge of SC golf cart laws 2019. If you’ve been hurt in a golf cart accident, get in touch with us today for a free consultation. If we take your case, we get paid only if you do, so there’s nothing to lose.

When someone’s negligence has injured another, determining the at-fault party in order to name them as the defendant in a lawsuit may not be cut and dried. In some cases, multiple parties who bear responsibility for a person’s injury might need to be named as co-defendants. Factors attorneys consider when deciding who to name as a defendant are (1) what the evidence reveals, (2) the legal requirements for bringing a successful case, and (3) whether damages could be collected if the case is won.

The Question of Evidence

Evidence can take many forms—what witnesses have to say, the contents of police reports, photographs of the scene, video recordings, and other data that might turn up through relevant research. Reviewing the available evidence carefully is the first step in establishing fault. Fault must be determined to initiate a case that is likely to succeed.

For example, if you were injured in a car crash where the other driver ran a red light, and their blood alcohol content indicated they were driving under the influence, it’s likely they are at least one of the at-fault parties who can be named in a personal injury suit.

What is Needed to Bring a Strong Case

Certain legal elements with regard to a potential defendant can make it much more likely that you will succeed. In personal injury cases, the following aspects must be established:

  • Does the defendant owe a duty to the injured person? For example, all drivers on the road have a duty to operate their vehicles in a responsible manner that does not endanger others.
  • Did the defendant breach that duty? For example, if a driver ran a stop sign and hit another vehicle, they would have violated their duty to drive safely.
  • Would the injured person be uninjured had it not been for the defendant’s actions? For example, if the defendant had not been driving recklessly, the plaintiff would not have suffered a broken leg.
  • Was the injury that was caused proximate, meaning directly related, to the harm caused? For example, it was the car wreck caused by the negligent driver that was directly responsible for the broken leg.
  • Was there provable financial loss? Losses can be economic, such as for medical bills, and non-economic, such as for pain and suffering.
  • Are you operating within the statute of limitations? In most states, you have only a few years to bring a personal injury suit. In South Carolina, the personal injury statute of limitations is three years.

Is It Likely That Damages Would Be Collectible?

Damages are the financial costs of the injury that are awarded to the injured party. If you won your case, you would want to be able to collect damages owed to you, such as for your medical bills, any property loss, and your pain and suffering. In any personal injury case, you must consider whether the defendant can actually pay a judgment.

The court can tell you that you are entitled to damages, but it cannot help you collect them. Therefore, you must consider whether the defendant will have the ability to pay them. For example, a negligent driver who is unemployed, with few assets, and who does not carry liability insurance is unlikely to be able to pay any significant damages. However, if the bar who sold the negligent driver alcohol over-served them, you might have a case against the bar’s owner. The owner of a business is more likely to have insurance and assets that could be accessed if damages were awarded for injuries.

When it comes to determining at-fault parties, sometimes you must be creative to find out who is truly at fault that also has the ability to pay. For example, suppose a truck driver caused a wreck. In such a case, do you sue the driver, the trucking company, or another party? For example, if the driver is an employee of the trucking company and not an independent operator, the trucking company might be considered responsible as well and could be named.

In another example, if the accident occurred because of brake failure due to poor maintenance, and not because of any negligence on the driver’s part, the defendants could be the trucking company and whoever was responsible for performing the truck’s maintenance. Both the trucking company and the truck’s mechanics or servicing firm would be defendants who likely could pay damages.

If you have suffered from an accident where another person’s negligence was involved, it’s a good idea to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney before you decide whether or not you want to bring a suit. It could be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

Securing justice for hardworking people and families.

Has your family suffered from a preventable injury that you believe was caused by the negligence of another? You may have strong legal grounds to initiate a South Carolina personal injury suit. Whatever the reason for your claim, the lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm have represented South Carolinians in personal injury suits since 1959. We are committed to providing personalized service to you while aggressively pursuing your claim, working hard to protect your rights and gain the best possible outcome. The clock is ticking on your deadline to file a claim, so call the Louthian Law Firm for help today. If you prefer, you can fill out our confidential online contact form.

The South Carolina State Legislature closed out their session at the end of June, 2018, with a flurry of activity. Among the many changes coming our way is legislation aimed at protecting our kids. Senate Bill 709, known as The School Safety Bill, and certain other budget provisos are supposed to keep our children more secure while they’re at school.

New Safety Plans

SB 709 now requires that every school district in SC come up with different safety plans for active shooter circumstances, fires, and severe weather. The plans must be in place by July, 2021, and include at least one drill per semester for active shooters or intruders, fire, and severe storms or earthquakes. SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division), the State Fire Marshal, and the South Carolina Department of Education will all work together to develop the required plans, which are subject to review by SC’s Department of Education.

SB 709 was proposed by Senator Greg Hembree of Dillon and Horry counties. Sen. Hembree said that the bill was partially prompted by recent school tragedies in other states, notably the February, 2018, shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida. Hembree characterized the effort to pass the bill as bipartisan: “With the help of House Education Chairman Rita Allison and other members of the House and Senate, we crafted a stronger bill. This is an important step in our ongoing mission to keep our children safe while they learn.”

New Safety Budget Items

Our public schools will also receive funding for more safety resource officers. Placing 590 additional resource officers in schools will cost over $60 million for the first year, according to State Department of Education estimates. Approximately half of our schools already had a resource officer in place as of January, 2017.

Also included in the budget is $2 million to start hiring school resource officers for some of South Carolina’s poorest school districts, which lack them. An additional, temporary proviso in force for one year will waive the $10,000 cap that is imposed on state retirees who work. The proviso will enable retired police officers to take jobs as school resource officers.

Other budgetary items that were passed for our state school system include $15 million for new door locks, metal detectors, security cameras, and life-saving medical equipment. SLED and the Department of Education will also conduct a study regarding the improvement of school security by installing bullet-proof doors, key-card-access doors, the use of student ID cards containing radio frequency ID (RFID) chips, and more mental health services for kids. The funded study is due to be submitted by the end of 2018.

Securing justice for hardworking people and families since 1959.

At the Louthian Law Firm, we advocate for South Carolinians who have been harmed in personal injury accidents due to negligence. If you or someone you love has sustained a serious injury and you believe someone else was at fault, you can hold the negligent party legally responsible. You may be able to recover your medical expenses as well as any lost wages and compensation for pain and suffering. South Carolina law can be complex, and personal injury claims have a filing deadline, so please do not delay. Reach out to us today by calling us or by filling out our online contact form. The initial consultation is always free.

In South Carolina, we are blessed with approximately 30,000 miles of rivers, 2,900 miles of coastline, and roughly 450,000 acres of lakes to enjoy. But the same waters that are so pleasurable for us to use can also become the locations of tragic accidents.

Nationally, 3.3 percent of all recreational boating deaths occurred in South Carolina during 2016. The percentage might sound low, but we are tied with North Carolina for the sixth-highest percentage of total boating fatalities in the nation. From 2012 through 2016, 595 boating accidents took place in SC, with 87 fatalities the result. Both the number of boating accidents and the number of deaths rose significantly from the year 2015 to 2016.

Boating Statistics and SC Law

In the U.S. during 2016, recreational boating fatalities took the lives of 701 people, a 12 percent increase over the previous year. The total number of boating accidents, 4,463, showed a 7.3 percent increase, and the total number of boating injuries, 2,903, represented an 11.1 percent increase.

Practically all boating deaths are preventable. For example, in 2016:

  • Over four-fifths (83 percent) of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Four out of five boating deaths occurred because of drowning.
  • Two-thirds of those who drowned were considered good swimmers.
  • 77 percent of deaths took place on boats where the operator had received no safety instruction.
  • Drinking alcohol was the leading contributing factor to fatal boating accidents. BUI (boating under the influence) was responsible for 15 percent of deaths.

It is legal to consume alcohol while on the water in SC, but the law prohibits you from operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If caught, you will be fined, possibly do jail time, and may have your boating privileges suspended.

Likewise, all vessels, even those being towed, must have on board at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) for each person. Approved types include Type I, II, III, or V PFD. Children under 12 are required to wear a jacket or device at all times while they are aboard.

Life jackets and PFDs save lives, as long as you use them.

Suggestions for Boating Safety

The most obvious tips for avoiding a catastrophe while on the water are obtaining good safety instruction beforehand, not operating your vessel while under the influence, and keeping life jackets and PFDs close at hand (or wearing them). But we have some additional ideas for you:

  • Develop a float plan, and let someone else know where you’re going.
  • It might sound obvious, but—learn to swim.
  • Know what to do should you have a boating emergency.
  • Properly maintain your boat.
  • Never overload the boat, in order to prevent capsizing.
  • Follow all posted speed limits and operate your vessel with an eye to what the other person might do.
  • Keep a sharp eye on the weather. Weather can change quickly out on the water. Head home if there are warning signs.
  • If you are using a motorized boat, learn about the dangers of carbon monoxide while out on the water.

Do you need a refresher when it comes to South Carolina’s boating rules and regulations? You can view current SC boating laws on your computer, smartphone, or other mobile device. You can also take a course on boating safety.

A day on the water with loved ones can be a wonderful time of adventure and togetherness. But when you’re packing the sandwiches and soda, remember to bring your common sense, too. Accidents can still happen and our firm has the experience required to successfully navigate boating accident lawsuits.