What Are South Carolina’s New Boating Laws?

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No matter how much you want to enjoy a day on the water, you are always at risk due to the negligent actions of other boaters. They may not have the knowledge or commitment to safety that enables them to operate a boat according to the law. It is important to stay updated on new South Carolina boating laws before getting on the water.

Recently, both houses of the South Carolina Legislature unanimously passed a bill that was signed into law that requires boater safety courses for new boaters born after a certain date. In the future, every new boater will need this course. The experienced Charleston boating accident attorneys at Trey Harrell Auto Accident & Personal Injury Attorney can help you fight for full boating accident compensation when someone else injured you.

South Carolina Boating Laws Highlight the Need for Safety

Not everyone can and should operate a boat in South Carolina. While car accidents are dangerous, boating accidents have an added element of danger because they occur in the water. Not only can someone be injured from the impact of the crash, but the most significant risk is when the boat capsizes.

In South Carolina, there are an average of 150 boating accidents each year. The actual number of accidents could be much higher than it seems.

Younger and Newer Boaters Must Take a Safety Course

Since the number of boating accidents is rising throughout the state, the Legislature passed new South Carolina boating laws to increase safety. One of the primary concerns was the young and inexperienced boaters operating vessels on the state’s waterways.

Governor McMaster signed a bill into law that requires any boater born on or after July 1, 2007 to receive a boating safety certificate. They could earn this certificate by taking a course that is administered or approved by the Department of Natural Resources. They would need the certificate before they can operate a boat that is 10 horsepower or more.

Those who want to learn which boating safety courses are approved should check with the South Carolina DNR, which maintains the list. Boaters would need to take a course before they are even able to operate a rental boat.

The goal and the intent of the new law is to increase boater awareness and safety. New boaters, especially those who are younger, need to understand the importance of safety on the water. They need to know the risks of certain behaviors and how those actions could lead to accidents.

Exceptions to the New Education Requirements

There are some exceptions to the boating education requirements that exempt:

  • Boaters who have a license to operate a vessel issued by the U.S. Coast Guard or a merchant mariner credential issued by the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Nonresidents in possession of a boating safety certificate or equivalency issued by another state
  • Boaters who are accompanied by a qualified boater of at least 18 years of age.

Those who violate the law can be fined $50-300 per violation. In addition, if a boater who was subject to the law was involved in an accident, their failure to complete the necessary course could be considered if they are liable for an accident.

For boaters, safety courses have always been a good idea because they would help instill a background knowledge of safety. Now, these courses are the law.

Reporting Boating Accidents in South Carolina

Boaters who have been involved in an accident have a legal obligation to report the incident. The reporting requirements apply to any accident that causes at least $500 in property damage and/or injury or death. It does not take much to cause $500 in damage to a boat, meaning that you should report every single boating accident.

The accident must be reported to the Department of Natural Resources. You can file the accident report with the DNR over the Internet. You should retain a copy of the report for your records.

Boating Accident Lawsuits in South Carolina

If you or a loved one have been injured in a boating accident, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. First, you need to prove that someone else was to blame for the boating accident.

Potential defendants in a boating accident case include:

  • Another boater
  • The city or dock owner
  • The manufacturer of the boat
  • The operator of the boat on which you were injured

Unless you are suing in a product liability case, you would need to prove that the other party was negligent. The legal test for negligence is as follows:

  • The other party owed you the duty of care
  • The party breached the duty of care by doing something that would be considered unreasonable under the circumstances
  • You suffered an injury
  • You would not have been injured had it not been for the actions of the other party

If you are successful in your lawsuit, you would be entitled to full financial compensation for your injuries. Boat accident compensation includes:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages for time missed from work or a reduction in your earnings capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Emotional distress

You always need an experienced attorney for a boating accident case. Your lawyer can investigate the accident to determine who was to blame. Then, they assemble the case necessary to demonstrate liability before they proceed to negotiate a potential settlement. In the meantime, you should also seek medical care for your injuries, both to start the road to recovery and to document your injuries.

Contact a Charleston, SC Boating Accident Attorney

Hiring an attorney is the key to seeking the best result in your case. Trey Harrell Auto Accident & Personal Injury Attorney represents injured accident victims when they have been harmed by someone else’s carelessness.

You need to take the first step in the fight for financial compensation. That step is to call us to schedule a free initial consultation. You can call us at 843-636-8739 or message us online to speak to a lawyer about your case. We will learn more about what happened and give you an initial explanation about how to proceed.

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