Involved In a Boating Accident? We Can Help.
Recreational boating has always been an attractive means of spending leisure time with family and friends. Unfortunately, far too often, this pursuit of pleasure can result in grievous bodily harm, enormous property damages, and heartbreaking fatalities due to boating accidents.
What Is A Boating Accident?
A boating accident relates to any accident involving a boat, ship, jet ski, personal watercraft, ferry, or any other type of watercraft. These accidents may involve collision, capsizing, crew overboard, fire, sinking, flooding, or explosion.
The most reported type of boating accident resulted from collisions between vessels. Although in most cases, this type of boating accident usually resulted in astronomical property damage, capsizing and falling overboard have the dubious distinction of being the cause of over half the fatalities from reported boating accidents.
The U.S. Coast Guard, who has absolute power on the water, compiles annual statistics which report on the increasing number of deaths, injuries, and property damage that occur as a result of boating accidents. The details are both sobering and frightening - hundreds of fatalities, thousands of injuries, and millions in property damage.
In many documented cases, liability is assessed due to carelessness and recklessness, operator inattention, or inexperience and excessive speed.
Steps To Take Immediately After A Boating Accident.
Situations where a boating accident report must be filed are as follows:
- If the accident results in loss of life.
- If someone is injured and requires attention beyond basic first aid.
- If the vessel or other property sustains damage because of an accident.
- If someone on board a vessel disappears, and it appears it may be possible that death or injury has occurred.
All boating accidents must be reported within forty-eight hours, should a fatality related to the accident occur within twenty-four hours of the incident, or if a person injured aboard a vessel receives an injury that requires more than basic first aid. Accidents that result in damage to the vessel or other property must be reported within ten days of the incident.
In the case of a boating accident that results in injury, fatality, or property damage, it would be wise to consult with a boating accident attorney to be advised of the legal rights under the law. Injured parties may be entitled to sue for damages, so a boating accident lawyer will clarify the necessary steps to be taken prior to filing a claim.
Consult a Boating Accident Attorney.
Anyone who is involved in a boating accident should consult a competent boating accident lawyer who is a specialist in dealing with the aftermath of boating accidents.
Reputable boating accident lawyers are cognizant of the many and varied laws that govern safe boating operation from one district, county, and/or state to another.
Boat operators function under the legal mandate that obligates them to maneuver their boats in a safe and responsible manner. Should they decide not to comply with these regulations, they may face criminal charges and litigation.
Regardless of who operates the watercraft, the owner is ultimately responsible and may be liable for any property damage, injury, or fatality that may take place on the vessel. Boating accident lawyers are dedicated professionals who can assist all interested parties should they be involved in a boating accident.
In addition to lawsuits that have been filed against negligent boat manufacturers who are ultimately responsible for mechanical or structural defects that result in boating accidents, litigation may take place if injury or fatality occurs because of alcohol impairment or other negligent activities by the boat operator.
It is imperative that a boating accident attorney be consulted, so involved parties can establish compensation, relative medical expenses, loss of wages, and the debilitating effects of permanent injury and/or pain and suffering. A boating accident lawyer is an expert in representing wrongful death suits, should a boating accident result in loss of life.
Prior To Consulting A Lawyer.
In the unfortunate event that a person is injured because of a boating accident, a victim should be aware of the following steps that should be taken in order to obtain maximum protection under the law:
- Receive medical treatment and documentation of injuries from a doctor as soon as possible after the incident. Be aware that sometimes severe injury, especially to the neck and back, can often take time to manifest and may have long term debilitating results.
- Compile as much documentation as you can relative to the accident. Be sure to record names, dates, telephone numbers, and addresses of all involved parties and witnesses to the event. Be sure to get all insurance information and obtain copies of all pertinent documentation.
- Discuss details of the accident only with the investigating law officials. Avoid giving statements to any representatives of insurance companies, until you have consulted a boating accident attorney.
- Never sign any release forms prior to talking with a boating accident lawyer.
- Keep in mind that there are time restrictions on when a boating accident lawsuit can be filed.
- Competent boating accident lawyers are trained in addressing any specific problems or concerns relative to the legalities and methods of enforcing victim rights under maritime law.
- Boating accident attorneys are specialists in handling all the intricacies of law relative to admiralty and marine law; therefore, the chances of successful litigation increase exponentially when a claim is handled by professionals dedicated to obtaining full compensation under the law.
Legalities In Which Boating Accident Attorneys Specialize.
Recreational boating accidents give rise to a variety of complicated legal issues that a reputable boating accident attorney can unravel. One of the foremost issues is, of course, determining liability and/or culpability for the accident. Because liability in a marine accident is hard to prove (unlike vehicle accidents, boating accidents often leave few clues behind to be evaluated by investigators), maritime law recognizes that culpability may be assessed as comparative liability. Essentially, this means that blame for a boating accident could be shared by each vessel operator and must be determined by a court. This is why it is essential that the intricacies of maritime law be assessed by a competent boating accident attorney to ensure that the letter of the law is adhered to.
Insurance coverage is also of paramount concern. Contrary to what most people think, marine insurance is not mandatory, and a good boating accident attorney will be able to analyze the necessary information regarding client rights versus those of boat owners and/or insurance companies.
In addition to the various complications noted above, a competent boating accident attorney is well versed in the procedures involved in analyzing depositions or interrogatories from operators, people on board the vessel, and/or eyewitnesses to the scene of the accident in order to present a more precise picture during any legal proceedings. An experienced boating accident lawyer is usually able to determine whether or not this testimony is truly an accurate portrayal of the event, or whether it may be biased, jaded, or self serving.
Competent, reputable boating accident attorneys also have the wherewithal to interpret any expert witness testimony that may be used in determining culpability. Former commanders of maritime vessels, naval architects, and other maritime experts are often called upon to assist with litigation. These experts will conduct a review of the physical evidence, witness statements, design and stability of the boat, conditions of the waterways at the time of the accident, and other extenuating circumstances that will provide a competent boating accident lawyer with the necessary information required, should there be court proceedings.
A competent and dedicated boating accident attorney knows and understands commercial and recreational boating law and will be able to ascertain whether given testimony is accurate and will recognize whether or not any expert witness determinations are defensible or not.
Must Knows Regarding Jurisdiction.
After a careful review of the details of a boating accident, a competent boating accident attorney is able to assess whether or not an incident that occurs on a body of water will be subject to admiralty jurisdiction, which will be judged under maritime law.
Admiralty jurisdiction takes precedence, if the boating accident occurred on navigable waters; if, because of the boating accident, maritime commerce became disrupted; and/or if the involved watercraft were engaged in conventional maritime activities (which include recreational boating).
A well--versed boating accident attorney will be able to asses whether maritime law is applicable to a particular boating accident, and if so, has the expertise to deal with maritime law concepts. These include, but are not limited to, issues pertinent to liability limitation, comparative liability, and marine liens and salvage which are exclusive to maritime law.
Unraveling The Liabilities In Maritime Law
Most people have no idea of the unfathomable concept of limitation of liability that exists under maritime law. It was developed primarily to offer protection to ship owners of the past in order to limit the full and fair recovery of any losses that may have occurred because of an accident.
Under this auspice, ship owners could limit their liability for any loss due to negligence or un-seaworthiness, without the owners' express knowledge or participation. A reputable boating accident attorney is aware that the ship owners' liability act, which came into play in the mid 1850's, limits liability for losses that result in fatality, personal injury, and property damage.
Because marine law is complicated, litigation involving boating accidents should never be attempted without first consulting a reputable boating accident attorney. The mandate of boating accident attorneys is to unravel the sometimes arcane maritime law, so that passengers and other boaters are offered a modicum of protection under the law.
Various amendments have been enacted over the intervening years; yet, jurisdiction is complicated and liability may be severely limited, as it is sometimes difficult to prove whether or not the ship owner was/is aware of (and did not take steps to rectify) any negligence, either in the overall operation of the boat or the actions of his/her crew. For this reason, a reputable boating accident lawyer is cognizant of the many, varied laws relative to maritime law and the rights available for passengers aboard a maritime vessel.
The Effects Of Technology
Technological advances and ship management, coupled with intensive mandatory training, have changed the face of seafaring quite a bit since the original liability limitation act was developed in 1851. Many of the past perils associated with boating accidents have been reduced due to improved communications, more modern construction of vessels, and technology such as global positioning. However, as in all other aspects of life, it is impossible to legislate against carelessness and stupidity, so boating accidents still occur on a regular basis.
A reputable boating accident attorney is aware of the strict inspections requirements, classification determinations, and the general premise under which a watercraft must be operated. They are well qualified to assist injured parties should any litigation arise following a boating accident.
Any passenger vessel registered in the United States must meet the stringent Coast Guard safety regulations and is subject to annual inspection of the hull structure, fire code safety implementation, lifesaving equipment, competent operation, and any other requirement relative to the safe operation of any watercraft.
Boating accident attorneys specialize in knowing and practicing marine law and are able to make sure the proper channels have been alerted, when and if someone suffers personal and/or property damage while aboard a watercraft.
Statistics have been compiled that indicate most accidents, which occur during boating excursions, can be directly related to ineffectual operation in about one third of reported accidents.
In about one quarter of the reported cases, boating accidents occurred due to unsafe practice by either the operator or the passenger. Far too often, engine failure was the predominant cause of many avoidable collisions on the water; following close on the heels of engine failure is mechanical failure of the steering mechanism.
A competent boating accident attorney has the savvy to assess liability for a boating accident and can offer his/her clients with the best way to receive a fair and just settlement, should they become victims of a boating accident.
If you’d like to find out more about working together, please contact us. We’ll have a conversation and see if we are the right attorneys for you, and if you’re the right kind of client for us. We hope to hear from you soon.