South Carolina Jet Ski Accident Lawyer Derrick Law FirmYes, it’s possible that you can recover damages from a Jet Ski accident as long as you’re not primarily responsible for it. Jet Ski, Sea-Doo, and Wave Runner are examples of personal watercraft (PWC), which the U.S. Coast Guard defines as inboard boats shorter than 16 feet that carry up to three people, one of whom operates the craft from a sitting, kneeling, or standing position. The ten million-plus PWCs registered in America today account for one-fifth of all pleasure boating accidents and are second only to open motorboats in the number of deaths they cause on the water. Approximately 50 PWC fatalities occur annually across the country.

Reasons for Personal Watercraft Accidents

The causes of personal watercraft mishaps include:

  • Speeding on the water
  • Failure to wear a life jacket
  • Lack of experience with PWC
  • Failure to follow maritime regulations
  • Operating a PWC at night
  • Carrying too many passengers
  • Collisions with docks, buoys, boats, or other PWCs
  • Defective equipment
  • Falling off the PWC
  • Bad weather
  • Drug or alcohol impairment

In many cases, personal watercraft are rented by vacationing tourists who have little experience in the operation of a PWC. If operators don’t receive proper training, tragedy can ensue. In such a case, a PWC rental company could be held partially liable for resultant accidents and damages.

Personal Watercraft Accident Injuries

Due to the speed at which PWCs travel (up to 60 mph) and the riders’ lack of protection, accidents can result in very serious injuries: broken bones, traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord damage, paralysis, lacerations, organ damage, sprained joints, and amputations. In addition to the injuries that normally occur in any vehicle crash, drowning is always possible in a PWC crash on the water.

If you’re injured in a PWC wreck due to someone else’s negligence or product liability, you’re entitled to compensation for your damages: medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. If you’ve lost a loved one in such an accident, you may file a wrongful death claim against the responsible defendant(s).

The Role of Your Attorney

Although operators of motor vehicles in South Carolina are required to carry car insurance, boaters are not required by law to carry boating insurance, so the at-fault operator who caused your accident might or might not have liability coverage. In the absence of insurance, you could look to your own insurer for immediate compensation for damages and then file a personal injury suit against the negligent party. If you win that suit and collect money, your insurer could have a subrogation claim against the award to recoup the money it paid to you.

Such complex legal procedures are best handled with the help of a PWC accident attorney who can investigate your crash to identify and demand compensation from all possible defendants: a negligent vessel operator, a rental company, or a manufacturer of PWCs or replacement parts. Even if you’re found partially responsible for your own wreck, your attorney can present evidence to show your portion of fault was 50% or less so that you can still collect a fair percentage of the compensation awarded by the court.

What to Do After a PWC Crash

If you’ve been involved in a PWC accident, your first priorities are to check yourself and your passengers for injury and move to a safe place. You should then follow the steps below, if possible, to strengthen your claim for damages:

  • Call 911 or the Coast Guard.
  • Get names, as well as contact and insurance information, from other parties involved in the crash.
  • Get contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident.
  • Take pictures of the damage to your craft and any others, as well as your injuries.
  • Don’t admit any fault to anyone.
  • Report your accident to your own insurer.
  • See a doctor right away, even if you don’t feel seriously injured.
  • Contact a personal injury lawyer who works with maritime cases.
  • If your crash caused property damage, injuries, loss of consciousness, or death, report it to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).

Taking these steps will strengthen your claim by documenting your crash and the injuries you’ve suffered, identifying the at-fault parties in the accident, and proving the liability of all defendants.

Have You Or A Loved One Been Injured In A Boat or Jet Ski Accident?

If you've been injured in a boating accident or a jet ski accident you should speak with an accident injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.