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Personal Injury -- Plaintiff Law

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Boating Accidents

Whether you are spending a day boating on a pond, river, lake, or ocean, boating accidents are anything but enjoyable. The damages you suffer may occur while setting sail on a recreational boat including any of the following:

  • Sailboat
  • Pontoon
  • Kayak or canoe
  • Yacht
  • Jet ski or wave runner
  • Cabin cruiser
  • Airboat
  • Inflatable or semi rigid vessel
  • Cruise ship

A personal injury claim from a boating accident may involve serious physical injuries, property damage, or in some extreme cases, death. Your injuries may be the result of excessive speed, operator inexperience or inattention, improper lookout, or boating under the influence.

Boating injury cases can be complex and may even involve aspects of maritime law. An experienced injury attorney familiar with boating accidents can be a helpful asset to getting compensated for your injuries.

Who Is Responsible for Boating Accidents?

When bringing a boating injury claim, the person you hold liable will depend on your specific situation. Often, the operator of the boat may be responsible for the injuries from arising from their negligent operation or failure to provide reasonable safety measures. The operator may have been speeding, operating the boat recklessly, failing to provide life jackets, or failing to take reasonable care of the vessel.

Some cases may involve the behavior of another passenger. These injuries occur from actions like a person acting recklessly when moving around the boat or throwing a person who cannot swim into the water without a life jacket on.

Other circumstances may cause boating accidents as well, like any fault on behalf of the rental company responsible for the boat. In some cases, it could be the boat manufacturer that is responsible for a defective part or warning on the vessel that caused your injury.

Personal Injury and Maritime Law

Typically, personal injury cases are governed by state tort law, which varies from state to state. However, boating personal injury cases are not always clear cut since they take place out on the water, which may involve federal admiralty or maritime law. These are the laws that govern and regulate issues that occur while out at sea.

The “navigable waterways” test is used to determine what type of law controls these injury cases. Navigable waterways are bodies of water that ebb and flow, and may be used to transport goods. Injuries that occur on navigable waterways are controlled by federal laws, and injuries that do not occur on navigable waterways follow state law.

Injuries you suffer on cruise ships are handled differently. Generally, cruise ships are bound to the laws that the ship is registered in, which may be another country. This means you may be dealing with a claim against a company in another country and may need to hire an attorney familiar with these federal injury claims.

Because these differences are subtle, you may want to consult with an attorney to look at your specific situation to help you determine what kind of law controls your claim.

Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

Similar to driving under the influence on land, each state, along with the federal government, has laws against boating under the influence as well. Most states define a BUI as operating a vessel on a body of water under the influence of alcohol. The blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent is the level at which most states consider a person under the influence while boating.

While boating under the influence may involve criminal charges, if you were injured, you may be able to bring a separate civil claim to recover for the injuries you suffer as a result of the operator boating under the influence.

Do I Need an Attorney?

Since boating accidents involve complex legal issues, you will likely benefit from consulting with and hiring an experienced attorney to assist you with your claim. An attorney familiar with boating injuries and maritime law can determine the applicable law for your situation and help file your claim in the correct jurisdiction.

Injury attorneys typically offer free consultations and work on contingency fees, so you can afford a reputable attorney without sacrificing your bank account. Contingency fee agreements allows the attorney to begin working on your case without making you pay a large upfront fee. The attorney receives an agreed upon percentage of your damages at the conclusion of your claim to pay for the legal work done and any associated costs like filing fees or other expenses.