From 2010 to 2013, there were 87 boating fatalities on lakes in South Carolina. Families recently gathered at a church in Lexington to honor those who have been lost and to urge safety this boating season in order to prevent future deaths. Local sheriffs and law enforcement members are also speaking out to remind those on the lakes to obey safety rules and follow best practices to avoid collisions.
When an accident occurs on the waterways, an a boating accident attorney can help injured victims or surviving family members to file a claim. Those responsible for the incident may be obligated to cover damages, including medical costs, pain and suffering, lost income and emotional distress.
Boaters Need to be Safe This Summer
According to The State, the death of an 11-year-old boater prompted the passage of Drew’s Law to improve boating safety. The boy was killed when a speed boat smashed into the side of a boat he was fishing in with his father. The driver of the speed boat was drunk, and Drew’s Law imposed tougher penalties for boating under the influence of alcohol. Penalties include a fine of as much as $600, up to 30-days of incarceration and the loss of boating privileges. In the case of a felony BUI, the penalty could range from between one and 25 years in prison.
Unfortunately, drunk boating is still a common occurrence in South Carolina despite harsher penalties. In 2010, the consequences of drunk boating became tragically clear when there were four fatalities on Lake Murray in two boating collisions that occurred just moments apart. It was the deadliest day in the history of the 47,500-acre lake. Both of the crashes were related to alcohol.
Hopefully, the high number of deaths in recent years will now make boaters think twice about operating under the influence, even if the risk of harsh penalties wasn’t enough incentive to stay sober.
Drunk boating is a major cause of collisions but it is not the only cause. Carolina lakes have been becoming more crowded in recent years and boaters are in danger when there are inexperienced operators in the water; when boaters are distracted; or when boaters speed or travel too fast to be safe in current water conditions. An absence of appropriate safety equipment on board a vessel also exacerbates the risks that boaters face.
Boaters should do everything possible to prevent accidents and to keep their passengers and others safe. This includes staying sober, wearing life jackets and providing them to passengers, checking the weather before leaving on a trip, obeying the speed limit as well as all other safety rules, and taking appropriate boater education courses to learn safe operating techniques.
When a boater engages in dangerous behavior, he can be held legally liable for losses. Both passengers and individuals aboard other vessels could take legal action if they are harmed by the negligence of a boat operator.
If you’ve been injured, contact Lee Law Offices for an initial consultation by calling 800-887-1965.
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