Visitors to Myrtle Beach and other South Carolina beaches often go on charter boat excursions for deep sea fishing, dolphin tours, parasailing, birdwatching, gambling and other adventures. The person operating the charter may call himself or herself captain.
However, does that mean that they have the necessary training to operate the vessel safely?
Protect yourself from untrained operators
The U.S. Coast Guard requires operators of charter vessels carrying six or more passengers to have their captain's license. This is your assurance the operator is trained in navigation and seamanship. Don't go by a person's job title alone. You can ask to see the operator's captain's license before you board the vessel.
An operator who uses an untrained operator may also take other safety shortcuts, such as operating an unseaworthy vessel. A seaworthy vessel is not only one that is in good repair but also carries all necessary safety equipment.
What if I am injured at sea?
You may expect the charter boat operators to pay for your losses if your are injured. Unfortunately, most will not do so unless they are forced to. It often takes an attorney who understands maritime law to recover the compensation you need.
Some of the most common types of accidents at sea include:
- Collisions with fixed objects such as docks and jetties
- Collisions with other boats
- Striking a submerged object
- Engine failures
Proofing negligence can be challenging, because there are no skids marks on the ocean to help in reconstructing the accident. Accident debris sinks to the bottom or be carried away by waves.
South Carolina attorney S. Scott Bluestein has more than two decades of experience handling boating accident cases.