Many people enjoy all the benefits associated with boating. This includes everything from a good way to offset stress to promoting wellness and more.
Unfortunately, it is also possible for boaters to experience an unexpected accident. This has resulted in people having property damage, physical injuries and more. When this happens to boaters, they could be entitled to compensation for their loss.
According to the Coast Guard, there were over 4,000 recreational boating accidents reported in 2017. The misfortunes involved over 600 fatalities, over 2,500 injuries and around $46,000 worth of property damage.
Types Of Accidents
There are many accidents that can happen involving boating. These are some common accidents:
- Ferry Worker Accidents
- Jet Ski Accidents
- Waverunner Accidents
- Kayak accidents
- Motorboat Accidents
- Sailboat Accidents
- Canoe Accidents
- Wind Surfing Accidents
- Kitesurfing Accidents
- Accidents By Intoxicated Boat Operators
- Cruise Ship Accidents
- Accidents Involving Merchant Ships
What to Do When a Boating Accident Happens
When an individual is involved in a boat crash, it is vital to write down or mentally document every aspect of the accident. It is advisable to even document whether the police have been called and whether a police report has been taken and filed. When the police are contacted regarding a boating accident, the police will call EMTs so that victims can receive medical care or evaluation as soon as possible.
If possible, it is a good idea to capture videos or pictures. Pictures or videos should be captured of the water vessels involved in the accident or collision and should show the damage clearly. Gathering the names of people involved in the incident and witnesses (and their phone numbers and addresses, where applicable) is additionally vital.
When someone is the victim of a boat crash, it is important they document the incident as much as possible. This could include contacting law enforcement and filling out a police report. Law enforcement will also make certain a boating accident victim gets any necessary medical help. If possible, it is a good idea to take as many pictures as possible. Photos should be of the boats involved, the condition of boats after the accident and more. Getting the names and contact information for any witnesses is also important.
There are many ways negligence can result in a boating accident. It could involve everything from failing to have required safety equipment on board, failing to know all the rules associated with the operation of their boat, navigating in heavy weather that causes people to fall overboard, overcrowding a boat, hitting a large wave at a high speed, collisions with fixed objects or other boats and more.
Boating Under The Influence
It is illegal for anyone to operate a boating vessel when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Should anyone appear to be operating a boating vessel in this condition, they are required by law to submit to a sobriety test. Should they refuse to take a sobriety test, it could result in their driving privileges as well as boating operator privileges being revoked.
It is against the law under Federal Navigation Rules for anyone to operate a boating vessel with willful disregard for the safety or property of others. An individual doing this can be cited. This citation is classified under the law as a first-degree misdemeanor. If a boating operator receives multiple citations, they will be required to take, and complete, a boating education course. This must be done before they can be permitted to once again operate a boating vessel.
According to Federal Navigation Rules and Georgia’s state law, Boating Under the Influence [Table 5.2] “an individual charged with BUI might not lose his or her driving license and road-driving privileges, but the boat driver will have to go to court for the BUI charges and will lose boat-driving freedom. The driver will also be liable for any injuries, mortalities and property damage if an accident occurs because of driving while intoxicated.”
Proper Boat Operation
When someone operates a boat, they must do so in a manner that is prudent as well as reasonable. It must be done with regard to any and all boating vessel traffic. This includes acknowledging the presence of a divers-down flag, obeying posted restrictions and more. A boat operator must do this in a manner that ensures the safety of their onboard guests, property of other boaters and more.
As with any action individuals take throughout their daily lives, we must act in a manner with respect to other human beings and their best interests (using a Duty of Due Care). Duty of Due Care means that when an individual drives a boat on the water, if there is an accident, the operator of the watercraft is responsible for his or her actions. Every driver must consider other people and their property in the same manner as he or she thinks of his or her own life or personal property.
Anyone involved in an accident while operating a jet ski could have injuries that are far more serious than those experienced by individuals in accidents involving larger boats. The rider of a jet ski is far more exposed than those on a boat. A jet ski accident can be the result of operator error, but also defective equipment. It is also possible for it to be the result of a boat operator’s negligence. Jet ski Accidents have been determined to be the fault of the manufacturer, jet ski rental company and others.
When a boat crash occurs, it is common for people to want to get past it as soon as possible. This is something the insurance company would also like to happen. Their goal is to pay as little for a claim as possible. In this situation, people will take what little settlement they are offered and try to forget about it. In this situation, they should speak with an attorney after speaking with their insurance company.
Statute Of Limitations
It is important for the victims of boating accidents to realize there is a statute of limitations with a boating accident. This is the amount of time a victim has after the accident to file a claim and try to obtain compensation. In most cases, a victim has two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. It is possible for cruise ships, and some other situations to have a shorter statute of limitations.
In order for an accident victim to collect for property damage as well as any injuries, their loss must be shown to be a direct result of the boating accident. Determining who is liable for a boating accident, as well as all the laws that apply to it, will depend on a number of different factors. This includes the individual’s status on the boat. Where they were an operator, guest, employee or owner? The location of the accident and more must be determined. Boating accidents that occur close to shore may fall under state law. When a boating accident occurs a good distance away from shore, it may be covered by maritime law.
Should a boating accident victim successfully prove to a judge or jury the defendant in their case was liable for the accident, they will be entitled to compensation. This could include the cost to repair, replace a boat or jet ski that has been damaged or destroyed. It is also possible they could be entitled to receive compensation for any type of bodily injury they experienced due to the boating accident. This could include past, present, and future medical expenses. A boating accident victim could also be compensated for any lost wages caused by the accident. They may also be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, loss of consortium and more.
Should someone have their loved one killed as the result of a boating accident, it is possible for family members to sue on behalf of the deceased. In this case, it may be possible for the family members to recover full value for the life of the loved one who died in the boating accident. Many factors will be taken into consideration to determine this amount. They will include the deceased’s income potential and abilities, age, education and more.
A boating accident can be a very traumatic experience. Victims of boating injuries often don’t know what to do after it happens. Speaking with the personal injury law experts at the Eichholz Law Firm is a good first step. We can carefully analyze the facts of a case and determine its value, and most importantly know how to protect client’s rights. We understand as legal professionals what is necessary to move forward toward obtaining clients the best possible settlement for their individual situation.