With miles of gorgeous coastline, South Carolina beaches are renowned the world over. Myrtle Beach, for instance, attracts family vacationers from all across the country every year. But it is critical for beachgoers to be aware of the possible risks. Drowning accidents, including tragic drowning deaths, can happen when preventative measures aren’t taken. In those cases, it is valuable to examine potential legal liabilities. Seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury lawyer to find out if you are eligible to recover damages.
Common Causes of Drowning Accidents at Beaches
Sadly, drowning accidents and drowning deaths can happen at South Carolina beaches for any number of reasons. Many of these situations are avoidable. If the drowning can be attributed to negligence, you may have a case to take legal action against the responsible party.
- Poor or lack of signage. The area may not be suitable for water activities, but there may be inadequate signage pointing this out.
- Strong water currents. Waves and tides can surprise people in or near the water at the beach. Powerful rip currents can even drag adults out to sea very quickly. Victims may get caught in the flow, and rescuers may not be able to get to them in time. Lifeguards may have a duty to warn beachgoers of the danger.
- Crowded waters. Too many people allowed in one area of the water can present a danger. This is particularly true with a mix of water activities, like swimmers near jet skis and other watercraft.
- Inexperienced boaters. South Carolina locals and visitors alike may rent boats, jet skis, and other watercraft by the beach. Many may be inexperienced novices, unable to control these water vehicles effectively.
- Lifeguard negligence. Both public and private beaches in South Carolina may have lifeguards on duty. But, if they don’t have enough training, lack the needed skills, or are distracted, they may not be effective at keeping everyone safe.
- Lack of adult supervision. Young children may not recognize the hazards of being at the beach. No adult should ever assume that someone else is watching their child for them.
- Dangerous business practices. South Carolina has premises liability laws wherein business owners may be responsible for injuries on their property. This includes proper maintenance and safety measures, like offering life jackets.
Possible Injuries From Beach Drowning Accidents
A fun day at the beach is quickly ruined by an unfortunate drowning accident. Possible injuries related to water accidents and submersion may include the following:
- Catastrophic brain injuries with possible permanent damage
- Hypoxic brain injuries from a lack of oxygen
- Spinal cord injuries
- Lung damage, like pulmonary edema
- Cardiac arrest or arrhythmia
- Secondary drowning problems
- Death from drowning
- Broken bones and fractures from collisions during drowning
Legal Liability and Statute of Limitations
When a drowning accident happens on private property, it can sometimes be easier to attribute legal liability. Hotels and resorts with private beach access have a legal responsibility to keep their guests safe. With drowning accidents at public beaches, it may not be as straightforward. Government entities or third-party managers may be responsible if their negligence contributed to the accident. If you believe someone is to blame, speak with a South Caroline personal injury lawyer right away.
An experienced attorney can assess your case and answer any questions you may have. They can review your case to see if you can hold a negligent party responsible. Could the incident have been avoided? You may be able to seek to recover damages through a legal claim. This could be against another individual, a business, or even the local government.
The statute of limitations in South Carolina is generally three years. You must file your lawsuit within this time period. If you or a loved one was hurt by a government official, this may be reduced to two years.
Potential Compensation for Damages
A drowning accident in South Carolina may lead to legal action. In personal injury lawsuits, plaintiffs may seek to recover damages. With wrongful death claims, survivors may seek justice on the victim’s behalf. Compensation may include:
- Medical bills, past and future
- Lost wages
- Lost or reduced earning capacity
- Mental pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of companionship
- Punitive damages
Steps to Take Following a Beach Drowning Accident
As a result of a beach drowning accident, your child or other loved one has suffered a catastrophic brain injury. Or, they may have succumbed to their injuries and passed away. To ensure your legal rights are respected, it’s important to follow these steps.
- Put health concerns first. Get your child or loved one the medical care they need. Even if the injuries seem minor, a documented exam by a doctor is invaluable.
- Document the situation. Take photos and make notes of exactly what happened. Get the names and contact information of witnesses. Note the cause of the accident. Were there any hazards?
- Report the accident. Depending on the situation, you may need to report the incident to different parties. This could be the property owner, a government agency, or your health insurance provider. Get a copy of this report.
- Hire a personal injury attorney. Consult a lawyer with a specific understanding of South Carolina laws. Local knowledge is critical in evaluating your case.