What Can I Do if I’m Injured in a Boating Accident?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Spending time on bodies of water, whether by the shore or on a boat, is usually a fun, relaxing experience for all the family. However, when water and boats are involved, there is always the potential for accidents. If you are unlucky enough to be the victim of such an incident, there are several steps you should take.
Causes of Boating Accidents
Unfortunately, there are many possible causes of boating accidents, many of which can be avoided. Whether it’s the boat owners, the manufacturers, the operator, a passenger, or someone else entirely, the liable party depends on the cause of the accident. Some of the most common causes include:
- Failure of boating equipment or machinery, due to poor manufacturing or lack of maintenance.
- Excessive speed or reckless boat operating that violates the Navigation Rules.
- Bad weather conditions.
- Unlicensed or inexperienced boat operators.
- Traveling in hazardous waters.
- Waves and wakes from other vessels.
- When an operator is distracted, e.g., by a cell phone.
From a legal standpoint, determining the cause of the accident is vital for proving liability.
Immediate Response to a Boating Accident
If you are physically able, the first thing you should do once an accident has occurred is to move out of harm’s way and help others do the same. You will then need to assess your injuries and those of the people around you and determine if anyone needs immediate medical attention.
You or the boat owner or operator must notify the Coast Guard of the incident within 48 hours. If you require urgent medical assistance, call them from the scene of the accident and do not leave the area unless absolutely necessary.
Although you may appear not to have any injuries, it is essential that you receive a medical assessment after a boating accident. Many injuries can take hours, if not days, to make themselves known to you, and a delay in treatment can affect recovery.
Receiving immediate medical attention is also crucial should you wish to pursue an injury claim or lawsuit. Evidence of injuries is often time-sensitive. This is especially true when it comes to traumatic brain injuries. On top of this, if there is any delay in getting the medical assessment, the defendant’s attorney will argue that your injuries aren’t related to the boating accident.
Exchange Insurance and Contact Information
Once you’ve established that everyone is safe or receiving necessary medical care, you should exchange insurance company and personal contact information with those involved in the incident. This includes asking for the boat identification and registration numbers.
It’s easy to forget this vital step in the shock and stress of the moment, but taking the time to swap information now will make things much easier later. It’s also advisable to exchange contact information with anyone who may have witnessed the accident. If you go on to seek compensation for your injuries, their input will be extremely valuable. However, it’s important not to discuss who is liable or at fault with these witnesses.
When trying to prove liability, you or your lawyer will need to show enough evidence to meet the burden of proof. In order to give your personal injury lawyer the best chance of winning your case, regardless of whether you’re suing due to property damages or injury, you need to provide them with as much evidence as possible.
If the Coast Guard is called to the scene, they will take a detailed incident report; nevertheless, there is a lot you can do to help your case. Your cell phone is critical when it comes to collecting evidence. Photograph as much of the accident scene as possible, including all the boats involved, the surrounding area, injured parties, and the presence of empty alcohol bottles.
As soon as possible after the accident, write a description of the incident with as much detail as possible. You may think this can wait a few days, but it’s remarkable how quickly memories fade or become distorted. Ask any eyewitnesses to write what they saw and heard. Finally, you will need to keep a detailed record of all your medical bills and reports.
Seek Legal Representation
If you have been the victim of a boating accident, you will need to seek formal legal advice and representation in order to receive any compensation you are owed. Financial compensation cannot undo the pain and suffering caused when a serious boating accident occurs; however, being able to cover medical expenses, loss of earnings, and property damage is essential.
When looking for a law firm to represent your case, it’s crucial to concentrate on those that have experience in boating injury cases and United States maritime law. Although you might think that there is no legal difference between a boat and a car accident, boating law can be very specific, so working with a personal injury attorney that’s experienced in this area will increase your chances of winning the case.
Arrange a Free Consultation
If you’ve been in a boating accident and seek an experienced personal injury lawyer, look no further than Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., where client relationship and trust are of the utmost importance. We are dedicated to ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve for the injuries you have experienced due to your accident.
For more information or to arrange a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys, call our law firm at 866-MICH-LAW.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.