What Should I Do If I Am Involved In A Boating Accident in Charleston, SC and Summerville SC?

Posted by Jay McMillian | Apr 13, 2018 | 0 Comments


Spring is here! The weather in the Low Country is warming up and everywhere you turn, from Sullivan's Island to Lake Moultrie, we see the boat trailers heading out with craft in tow. The joy of a day on the boat in Charleston Harbor or in one of our many rivers can turn on a moments notice if you are someone you love is injured while riding or operating a boat. Unlike an automobile accident, where most folks have been inherently trained on how to respond, a boating accident usually presents a situation which many people, even boat owners, lack the experience or education to handle. Without knowledge of specifically what to do in the case of a boating accident, it can be a uniquely frightening event. 

It is inherently important to know how to respond to a boating accident for two reasons: First, knowing the appropriate steps to take can help save lives . . . Second, knowing the appropriate steps will help protect and preserve any legal rights you may have for recovery due to your injuries.

South Carolina law does allow you to recover for injuries suffered in a boating accident (much like automobile accidents), but the law also makes it incumbent upon the injury victim to protect their legal rights and preserve evidence to pursue a claim.


If the vessel you are a passenger on is involved in a boating accident and the boat is still afloat and no passengers have fallen overboard, the the first course of action is to determine whether anyone on board, including yourself, needs medical attention. 

If during the accident, any passengers have fallen overboard, then any able bodied passengers still on the vessel should assist any overboard persons back onto the vessel if possible. 

If the accident has resulted in the break up of the vessel and/or the sinking of the vessel, then it is recommended for passengers to climb on floating debris and make the best efforts to signal for help. This very scenario is why it is always the better practice to wear a life jacket on a boat while it is in the water. Statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard show that over 70 percent of all fatalities from boating accidents are the result of drowning. 

Once it is confirmed that all the passengers are still on the boat and the structural integrity of the boat will allow it to stay afloat, all  attention should be focused on keeping the boat out of harm's way while providing medical assistance to those on board. If possible, the vessel should be moved out of the path of oncoming boats, and then first aid should be provided to injured parties.

In all cases, the Coast Guard should be contacted immediately to let them know that a maritime accident has occurred. The Coast Guard should be informed of the location of the accident, if possible, and what medical assistance may be necessary.

You should never leave the scene of a boating accident!!! Especially if anyone is in need of medical help . . .

It is ALWAYS a good idea to see your doctor following a boating accident, even if you do not feel symptomatic or have any immediate physical pain or issues. It is a medical fact that the shock of being involved in any traumatic event, including a boat wreck, can delay any symptoms of a serious injury. It is always advisable that you and your loved ones should error on the side of caution and seek a medical attention as soon as possible. Be sure you mention to the physician that you were involved in a boating accident, as they may want to run specific tests or perform certain procedures specific to boating injuries. 


The information gathering that is necessary following a boating accident is very similar, with few minor differences, to the process that you would be familiar with following a automobile accident.

Information that you should obtain at the accident scene includes the following:

  • Names, addresses and telephone numbers of the boat operators involved in the accident.
  • Names, addresses and telephone numbers of the passengers involved or aboard all of the vessels in the crash.
  • Names and contact information of any eyewitnesses who may have witnessed the accident from shore or from other vessels.
  • Registration and/or state licensing information of the other vessels involved in the accident.
  • Insurance company names and the insurance policy numbers of those who were involved in the accident.

It is always advisable, if possible, to take photographs of the damage to the boat and the location where the accident occurred. This evidence from the scene of the boating accident can be helpful if you need to show that the other boat operator liable for the accident. In addition, it may be difficult if not next to impossible to locate the exact location and duplicate the conditions if you wait to a later date to photograph the scene.


Immediately following a boating accident, report the accident to your insurance carrier if you owned or operated one of the vessels involved. You should always give notification to your insurer, regardless of whether you or another boater was at fault.

If the operator of the other vessel was negligent, or you were a passenger on a vessel that was operated in a negligent manner by another party, you may be able to take legal action for compensation for your injuries. Much as is the case with automobile accidents, this would involve a claim against the insurance company of the negligent operator. This claim would pursue your rights to payment of medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress and wrongful death.


As a Boating Accident and Personal Injury lawyer in my solo practice, I will take all necessary steps to protect your rights and earn just compensation for you as a result of your boating accident or injury. Through my efforts, I can bring about much needed financial relief to a victim who may be suffering from serious injuries and permanent disability. Being a small firm allows you to have direct access to your lawyer during this entire process, with open lines of communication as we work together towards a viable solution to your specific case. 

Being an experienced personal injury attorney, I have experience dealing with insurance companies. I also know where the courthouse is and will not be afraid to call the insurance company to the mat in front of a judge and jury if necessary.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident or due to the negligent or reckless acts of another in Charleston, Summerville, Mount Pleasant, James Island, West Ashley, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, North Charleston, or any of the other fine communities of the Low Country, and need to meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact me to set up your free case evaluation today. Let me help prevent you from being taken advantage of by the insurance company. I am serious and I am here for you! Contact The McMillian Law Firm today @ 843-900-1306

About the Author

Jay McMillian

Background I chose to build my law practice in the areas of Car Accident and Personal Injury because these areas of the law are the most accurate reflection of my values and my upbringing. Being the son of a breakfast hostess and a retired US Army Sargent turned construction worker, the values instilled upon me by my par...


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The McMillian Law Firm

Attorney Jay McMillian operates a solo practice with an emphasis on two core principles. First, to provide competent legal advice in the areas of Auto Accident and Personal Injury Law to the people he is proudest to serve, the people of the South Carolina Low Country. Second, to provide the most personal and intimate service to each and every client and give them the attention and compassion that they deserve while going through the stress and strain of negotiating or litigating an injury claim. If you live in Charleston, Summerville, Mount Pleasant, Goose Creek, James Island, Walterboro, Moncks Corner, and you or someone you love has been injured by the negligence of another, please call Jay at The McMillian Law Firm today.

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