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 Can I Sue for Injuries Sustained in a Boating Accident?

The number of people who are injured or killed in boating accidents seems to increase each year. According to a recent report published by the United States Coast Guard, there were 5,265 boating accidents within the last year, amounting to roughly $62.5 million dollars in property damage. These numbers reflect boating accidents associated with recreational boating activities and do not account for boating accidents that may not have been reported.

Boating accidents can occur between all different kinds of water vessels, including yachts, houseboats, cruise ships, and even duck boats. As more consumers become boat owners, the number of boating accidents that occur every year will only continue to rise. This also means that the number of lawsuits involving boating accident claims will most likely increase as well.

In general, a boating accident is said to have occurred when any of the following conditions are present:

  • An individual is injured, disappears, or dies during a boat outing or while they are on board a boat. This means that a boat does not necessarily need to be moving in order to be part of a boating accident.
  • Alternatively, a boating accident may also occur if a boat is damaged or causes damage to other property during an incident. In this case, the boating accident may or may not involve injuries to persons.

Some common examples of injuries that you may sustain in a boating accident include:

  • Whiplash;
  • Loss of limb;
  • Broken bones;
  • Scrapes or lacerations on your arms, legs, or other body parts;
  • Spine, neck, and head injuries;
  • Tissue and muscle damage; and
  • Water in your lungs or drowning.

The above list is by no means exhaustive of the types of injuries that one can receive when involved in a boating accident. There are many other factors that can affect these kinds of injuries, such as the size of the boat, the speed it was traveling at before the accident, the weather conditions, how many people were on board the boat, and so forth.

To learn more about boating accidents and whether you may be able to recover for property damage or injuries you sustained in a booting accident, you should speak to a local personal injury attorney immediately for further legal advice.

Are You Required to Report a Boating Accident?

There are several situations in which the law may require those who are involved in a boating accident to report the incident to the proper authorities. For instance, a boating accident will most likely need to be reported when any of the following details are involved:

  • The boating accident results in one or more casualties;
  • A driver, passenger, or crew member of either boat sustains serious bodily injuries that require immediate medical attention that goes beyond first aid treatment;
  • One or more of the boats in the incident completely sink, vanish, or float away;
  • A driver, passenger, or crew member of either boat disappears in a manner that suggests death, serious injury, or foul play; and/or
  • Damage done to other property or any of the boats in the accident exceeds $2,000.

It is also important to note that if a boating accident is required to be reported by law, then the individual who is filing the report must do so within 48 hours of the incident. In addition, if a boating accident was not reported during the requisite 48-hour period, then the individual must file a report within 10 days from the incident if any persons involved have since died.

In most cases, the forms to file a boating accident report can be located on and downloaded from the website for the United States Coast Guard. There are also certain instances wherein the local police may need to be notified as well.

Finally, an individual may also want to consider reporting a boating accident to their insurance company if:

  • They were injured in a boating incident;
  • They were responsible for causing a boating incident;
  • They caused damage to a boat or property that did not belong to them; or
  • Their boat or property was damaged in a boating accident.

Who Is Liable for Boating Accidents?

There are a few different parties that a plaintiff may be able to hold liable for injuries sustained in a boating accident. Similar to a car accident lawsuit, the facts of a particular case will typically be used to determine which parties may be held responsible for a boating accident. Some common examples of the types of parties that may be held liable for a boating accident may include the following:

  • The captains or drivers of the other boats involved in the boating accident;
  • The manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of the boat if the accident was potentially caused by a flawed boat design or a defective part used to assemble the boat;
  • Any boat passengers or crew members whose conduct may have led to the boating accident;
  • The owner of the other boat if they lent or permitted someone else to captain the boat who they knew or should have known was not qualified to operate it;
  • The individual or entity who is in charge of maintaining the other boat; and/or
  • The rental or recreational company that allowed the persons in the other boat to temporarily use it.

As mentioned, the facts of a case will dictate the types of parties who may be held accountable for the damages resulting from a boating accident. Some common examples of scenarios that may explain how the parties in the above list may cause a boating accident to happen include:

  • Colliding with another water vessel;
  • Crashing into a boat dock;
  • Operating a watercraft in a negligent manner;
  • Disregarding boat maintenance duties;
  • Distracting the captain or driver while the boat is in motion;
  • Driving the boat while impaired by alcohol or illegal substances; and
  • Renting a boat that contains defective boat parts (e.g., the boat engine dies or its gas tank leaks).

Should I Contact a Lawyer about My Boating Accident?

In general, the issues in boating accident lawsuits are often difficult to resolve without the help of an attorney. Such claims often touch upon various areas of the law, and may even require some knowledge of laws in other countries if a boating accident occurs in international waters. Boating accident lawsuits must also be filed within a specified time frame or a plaintiff could miss out on their opportunity to recover damages for any injuries sustained in an incident.

Therefore, if you recently suffered injuries due to a boating accident, then it is strongly recommended that you hire a local personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An attorney who has experience in handling boating accident cases can review the facts of your incident and will be able to determine whether you have a viable claim.

Your attorney can also recommend the best course of legal action to pursue to increase your chances of recovering damages. In addition, your attorney can perform legal research on the issues in your case and can explain how the relevant laws may affect your odds of winning a lawsuit.

Your attorney can also discuss the types of legal remedies you can receive if your case is successful. Alternatively, if you caused the boating accident, your attorney can inform you of your legal rights and can check if there are any legal defenses you can raise that may be important to defeating a claim.

Finally, if you need assistance with filing or defending yourself against a boating accident lawsuit, your attorney will be able to offer legal services that can help you in either instance. Your attorney will also be able to provide legal representation in civil court should it become necessary.

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