What to Do After a Jet Ski or Boat Accident in South Carolina

Boat Accident Concept, Happy Family With Children on a Boat

Experiencing a boat accident can be a traumatic and overwhelming event. In the beautiful waters of South Carolina, boating and jet skiing are popular recreational activities, but accidents can and do happen.

If you find yourself involved in a boating or jet ski accident, it’s crucial to know the proper steps to take to ensure everyone’s safety, comply with legal requirements, and protect your rights.

At McDougall Law Firm, we are here to guide you through the process. Here’s what you should do immediately after a boat accident in South Carolina.

Don’t hesitate to contact us at 843-438-4386 for a free consultation.

1. Ensure Safety and Check on Others

The first and most important step after a boat accident is to ensure the safety and well-being of all involved. Check to see if anyone has been hurt and provide first aid if you are able.

  • Help Anyone in the Water: Help anyone who has fallen overboard if you’re able.
  • Offer Life Jackets: Give a life jacket or floatation device to anyone who doesn’t have one.
  • Provide First Aid: Administer basic first aid to anyone who is injured. If you have a first aid kit on board, use it.
  • Call for Help: If there are serious injuries, or if anyone has fallen overboard, call for emergency assistance immediately. Use your marine radio or cell phone to contact the Coast Guard or local emergency services.
  • Stay Calm: Keeping a level head can help manage the situation more effectively and ensure that help arrives quickly.

Remain on the scene after checking on passengers and the other boat or jet ski operator.

2. Report the Jet Ski or Boat Accident

Even if a boating accident isn’t serious, notify the Coast Guard or local law enforcement. In South Carolina, certain boat accidents must be reported to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).

When to Notify SCDNR

You must report the accident if there is a fatality, an injury requiring medical treatment beyond first aid, damage to vessels or other property exceeding $2,000, or a person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury.

How to Report

Complete a Boating Accident Report form and submit it to the SCDNR. This report must be filed within 48 hours if there is a death or disappearance, or within 10 days for other reportable accidents.

3. Exchange Information and Do Not Discuss Fault

Just like in a car accident, it’s essential to exchange information with the other parties involved without admitting fault or discussing the accident in detail. Share names, addresses, contact numbers, vessel identification, and insurance information with all parties involved in the accident.

Avoid making statements about who is to blame for the accident. Anything you say can be used against you later.

4. Take Pictures

Documenting the scene of the accident is crucial for any future insurance claims or legal proceedings.

  • Photograph the Scene: Take clear pictures of the damage to all vessels involved, the surrounding area, and any visible injuries.
  • Document Conditions: Capture the weather, water conditions, and any other relevant factors that might have contributed to the accident.
  • Keep Records: Save all photographs and any notes you take regarding the accident. This documentation can be vital evidence.

5. See a Doctor Even If You Think You’re Fine

Even if you don’t have visible injuries or feel pain, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. Some symptoms may not appear right away, and it’s important for a doctor to rule out internal injuries.

Medical documentation is also crucial for your insurance claim and personal injury case.

6. Notify Your Insurance Company

Notify your insurance company about the jet ski or boat accident, but refrain from admitting any fault.

If adjusters from the other boater’s insurance company contact you, provide only basic information. Do not give a recorded statement, do not allow access to your medical records, and do not accept a quick settlement offer, as you may not yet know the full extent of your damages. For any additional communication, direct the insurance representatives to your attorney.

7. Contact a Boat Accident Lawyer

After addressing the immediate concerns, it’s important to seek legal advice. Contact an experienced South Carolina boat accident lawyer, like those at McDougall Law Firm, to discuss your case. An attorney can help you understand your rights and the best course of action.

A lawyer can assist with navigating insurance claims and potentially filing a lawsuit if you were hurt in a boat accident that wasn’t your fault. A skilled boat accident lawyer will fight to ensure that you receive fair compensation for any injuries.

Jet Ski Accident Concept, Jet Ski on Lake

Do I Have a Boat Accident or Jet Ski Accident Case?

Boat and jet ski accidents can result in significant injuries, property damage, and even fatalities. Determining who may have a valid legal case following such an accident involves assessing liability, the extent of injuries, and the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Injured Passengers

If the accident was caused by a boat operator’s negligence, such as speeding, reckless maneuvers, or operating under the influence, injured passengers can seek compensation.


If another boat or jet ski operator was at fault in a collision, the injured victim could seek compensation from the negligent party.

Defective Equipment

Operators injured due to defective equipment or mechanical failure might have a product liability case against the manufacturer or rental company.

Families of Deceased Victims

Tragically, boat and jet ski accidents can result in fatalities. In such cases, the surviving family members may have a wrongful death claim.

Our team at McDougall Law Firm can evaluate your case, gather necessary evidence, and advocate for your rights. Contact us at 843-438-4386 for a consultation.

Boat Insurance and Jet Ski Insurance

Boat/jet ski insurance works similarly to auto insurance. The specific types of coverage within a boat insurance policy can vary, but they typically include:

  • Liability Coverage: This covers injuries to others if the policyholder is at fault for the accident. It can pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering of the injured party.
  • Medical Payments Coverage: This pays for medical expenses for the policyholder and their passengers, regardless of who is at fault. It can cover costs such as ambulance services, hospital stays, and rehabilitation.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Boater Coverage: This is crucial if the at-fault party does not have insurance or insufficient coverage. It can help cover medical expenses if the other boater lacks adequate insurance.

Personal watercraft (PWC) insurance, also known as Jet Ski insurance, usually includes liability coverage for injuries and property damage.

Contact McDougall Law Firm After a Jet Ski or Boat Accident

A boat accident can turn a day of fun into a stressful ordeal. At McDougall Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping you through this difficult time.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boat accident, don’t hesitate to contact us at 843-438-4386 for a free consultation. We are here to provide the support and legal expertise you need.

Don't Wait! Contact MCDougall Law Firm Right Away!

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, don't hesitate, contact us today!

Our dedicated and experienced team will fight to get you the maximum compensation