Charleston offers many boating opportunities, from tour boats and dinner cruises to sailboats, speedboats, and fishing boats across the harbor and through numerous marinas, beaches, and boating clubs. However, the high number of boats means devastating boating accidents could occur. A Charleston boat accident lawyer could help you hold a person who causes a boating accident liable for damages you suffer as a direct result. If you were injured in a boating accident, a skilled personal injury attorney could work with you to identify negligent people, determine damages that you may be eligible to seek, and work towards a positive resolution.
Liability in Boating Accidents
Because boats are considered transportation carriers, operators and owners have a duty to their passengers and members of the public who could encounter their vessel.
When determining whether a boating company or owner is responsible for injuries in a boating accident, the courts may take a number of factors into account, such as:
- Hiring practices, including maintenance of boating records, licenses, and proper drug and alcohol screenings
- Providing adequate training for employees
- Safety inspections, maintenance, and repairs
- Boating industry standards, recalls, and guidelines
- Safety guidelines for weather conditions
Whether the harmed individual in an accident was a passenger, employee, bystander, or occupant of another boat or vehicle, any injuries sustained during a boating accident could serve as grounds for seeking compensation. A skilled lawyer in Charleston could help protect an injured party by thoroughly investigating the boating accident and helping to identify potentially negligent actions.
Negligence Laws in Charleston
South Carolina maintains several laws related to negligence in boating accidents. While plaintiffs must prove legal negligence—in other words, prove the defendant violated their general duty of care to protect others and directly caused injury as a result—to recover damages, their recovery itself may also be subject to the state’s comparative negligence rule.
This rule states that injured people who bear partial responsibility for a boating accident may have their potential damage award reduced by the percentage of fault they hold, as long as they are not more than half at fault. If the plaintiff in a boat accident case bears 51 percent of the fault for the accident, the court may move to bar their recovery altogether.
Because of this rule, defendants may attempt to avoid liability by alleging that an injured party is largely responsible for their own damages. Fortunately, an experienced boat accident attorney in Charleston could help refute accusations of comparative negligence and help fight for fair compensation on a plaintiff’s behalf.
The Statute of Limitations in Watercraft Accident Cases
South Carolina maintains a statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims. The deadline is typically set at three years from the date of the injury or accident. There may be some exceptions, however. For instance, children who are injured may have more time to file a boating accident claim, as courts generally do not “start the clock” with regard to the statute of limitations until after someone turns 18.
Contact a Charleston Boat Accident Attorney Right Away
Boating accidents may lead to complex legal cases. Often, hurt people have to deal with confusing insurance claims while trying to physically heal. In these cases, having a qualified local attorney on your side could be advantageous.
Whether or not you bear partial fault for an accident and the resulting injuries, you may still be eligible for some form of compensation. You may benefit from having a compassionate Charleston boat accident lawyer review your case. Call today to schedule a consultation and begin discussing your case, learning about legal options, and exploring potential compensation.