Each summer, many residents of Asheville, Waynesville, and Franklin, NC, as well as residents of Greenville and Spartanburg, SC, and surrounding areas enjoy boating with friends and family. Whether you are planning to enjoy boating on one of the numerous lakes in Western North Carolina or Upstate South Carolina, or if you are planning a drive to the coast, it is important to learn more about boating safety to avoid personal injuries.
May 20-26 is National Safe Boating Week. Now is a great time to learn more about safe boating practices and to understand issues of liability when boat accidents happen.
Tips for Safe Boating This Summer in North Carolina and South Carolina
Western North Carolina is full of popular recreational lakes, such as Lake Lure and Lake Fontana. Yet without practicing safe boating, accidents and boating injuries can happen.
A fact sheet from the National Safety Council (NSC) emphasizes that around 74 million Americans enjoy recreation boating every year. How can you stay safe? The NSC recommends the following tips:
- Create a pre-departure checklist before you go out on the water, checking to make sure that you have the tools you need, a first-aid kit, and life jackets for everyone who will be on board.
- Always wear a life jacket and require everyone else to wear a life jacket, too (the Safe Boating Campaign has created a “Life Jacket Pledge” that encourages everyone to “Wear It!”).
- Take the appropriate boating safety courses and ensure that you receive a nationally approved boating safety education certificate.
- Never drink alcohol when you are boating as alcohol impacts your judgment, your vision, your balance, and your coordination.
- Seek out a free vessel safety check.
- Understand the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning on boats.
Boating Accidents and Liability for Injuries
The NSC reports that more than 4,000 boating accidents occur each year. In 2014, there were 610 fatal injuries that resulted from boating accidents, while an additional 2,678 personal injuries occurred. In addition, the NSC indicates that the number of boating accidents, injuries, and deaths has increased gradually.
Many of these accidents are preventable. The following statistics provided by the NSC emphasize how numerous boating accidents could be avoided:
- Around 78 percent of boating deaths result from drowning, and 84 percent of the drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.
- 77 percent of deaths occur on boats where an operator has not taken a boating safety course (to compare, only 12 percent of boating accident deaths happen on vessels where the operator has taken a boating safety course).
- About 70 percent, of boating accident result from operator error.
Who is liable when a boat accident happens? Similar to car accidents, boat operators owe a duty of care to those on board. If the boat operator is negligent in any way, then she or he can be held liable for injuries that result from an accident.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that North Carolina is a “contributory negligence” state. In other words, under North Carolina law, if plaintiffs bear any responsibility for the accident or for the severity of her injuries — even by 1 percent — they are barred from recovery.
Contact a Boat Accident Lawyer in Western N.C. and Upstate S.C.
Were you injured in a boating accident? Contact Grimes Teich Anderson LLP now to discuss your case.