What to Do Before You Meet With a Boat Accident Lawyer in Flint
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
A boating accident on one of the Great Lakes or one of the inland lakes in Genesee County, such as Thread Lake or Lake Ponemah, can be terrifying. Victims of these boat accidents are often left with severe injuries and need to find legal representation quickly. You may be dealing with hospital stays, injuries, medical bills, lost wages, or the inability to work long-term.
An experienced lawyer can help you obtain compensation for your losses. If you’ve been injured in a boat accident in Flint, you must hire a boat accident lawyer in Flint as soon as possible. During this challenging time, accident attorneys will offer legal advice and be an advocate for your best interests. They will explain all the available options and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.
Boating Accidents: Types and Causes
Since Michigan is known as the “Great Lakes State,” it’s no wonder that it has the third-largest boat registrations in the country. Due to the numerous lakes and waterways, a range of boating accidents can occur. Boat accidents in Michigan have increased by 101%, from 90 in 2015 to 181 in 2020.
According to the 2020 United States Coast Guard Recreational Statistics, these are the top five most common boating accidents across the country.
Collision Between Recreational Vehicles
Beautiful views, sunny weather, and relaxing activities may cause you to be distracted by family and friends, but it can also cause accidents. Among the 5265 boating accidents that occurred in the U.S. in 2020, 1,379 involved another recreational vehicle. The collisions between recreational vehicles resulted in 837 injuries and 66 deaths.
Collisions caused the majority of boating accidents with recreational vehicles, but flooding and swamping contributed to more deaths. Boats have been flooded or swamped by water due to stormy weather, improper boat maintenance, or human error. In 2020, 84 people died from flooding or swamping, compared to 66 people who died from collisions with other vehicles.
Collision with Fixed Objects
In 2020, of the 5,265 boating accidents nationwide, 542 involved a collision with a fixed object in the water. This means the operator is crashing into something above or below the surface of your boat, such as piers, docks, or rocks.
Sometimes unseen rocks and higher underwater landmasses aren’t as visible to boat operators. When a boat meets one of these underwater features, it could become stuck or grounded. Grounding ranks fourth for one of the most common boating accidents for 2020, with approximately 484 grounding accidents.
The chances of one being injured or even dying in a boating accident dramatically increase if you fall overboard. Falling overboard has been ranked fifth among all boating accidents, with 161 injuries and 181 deaths.
Contributing Factors in Boating Accidents
In these five most common boating accidents, according to Coast Guard reports filed annually, many more causes contribute, such as operator inattention, excessive speed, improper lookout, and machinery failure.
The Coast Guard highlighted two critical factors that play a role in boating accidents: the influence of alcohol and inadequate safety instruction.
- Alcohol use contributed to 28% of fatal boating accidents, according to the Coast Guard.
- 77% of fatal boating accidents occur when boat operators are not adequately trained in boating safety, compared with 12% for operators that have received such training.
There are many possible contributing factors to injuries and deaths caused by boating accidents. For example, an accident could happen if the boat operator did not take safety precautions, or it could be that you’re injured by someone on another vessel who didn’t follow admiralty and maritime laws on Lake Michigan.
A good attorney investigates the accident and figures out what happened so they may determine if a personal injury or wrongful death could have been avoided or prevented with legally necessary precautions taken by the operator, company, or manufacturer of your boat’s equipment.
What You Can Do in the Event of a Boating Accident
When you are in a boating accident, you need to make sure everyone is safe around you. According to Michigan state law, boat operators should help others to safety as much as they can after they have gotten themselves to safety. Ensure you are aware of any personal injuries and whether anyone around you needs immediate medical attention for serious injuries.
It is the boat operator/owner’s responsibility to file a boat accident report to the U.S. Coast Guard within 48 hours of the incident. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources – Law Enforcement requires a boat accident report according to Michigan laws:
- If someone dies or loses consciousness, requires medical treatment, or becomes disabled within 24 hours of the boat accident, you have 48 hours to file a report.
- If property damage exceeds $2,000 or a person appears to have disappeared that indicates death or severe injuries, then you have five days to file a report.
- If you were injured in a boat accident, it is in your best interest to take measures to protect your legal rights and prepare your case before you meet with your boat accident lawyer.
Keep Copies of Your Medical Bills
After even the most minor boating accidents, it’s crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible. Many severe injuries take several hours, if not a few days, to manifest in your body.
Delaying your doctor’s visit can impede your recovery, especially if you have suffered severe back injuries or traumatic brain injuries as a result of the boat accident. Getting medical attention for your injuries can prevent them from getting worse. Remember to keep any medical expenses and records related to any medical treatments before meeting with your boat accident lawyer.
Gather Evidence and Witness Statements
Your cell phone will be crucial to gathering evidence. If the boat accident involves other vessels, you can exchange contact information with the boat operators/owners and their insurance companies.
If you can, take as many pictures of the accident scene as possible, including the vessels involved in the accident, the area, any alcoholic beverages, and any injured parties. You may want to attempt to contact any witnesses at the accident scene, but it is important to avoid discussing liability with them to prevent any legal issues.
Note What You Recall of the Boat Accident
It is a good idea to write down what you remember from the boat accident. Memories can fade quickly, so you want to make a record while you remember everything as clearly as possible. Asking other witnesses and any injured people for a description of the accident helps too if you are struggling to recall certain details.
Find a Boat Accident Attorney in Flint
Boat accidents can be a frightening experience and have lasting consequences. They can happen without warning, and with the lack of safety education and the influence of alcohol, they are much more likely to cause injury or death.
If you were injured in a boat accident, it is crucial to keep track of your medical treatment, take pictures of any injuries, and record witness statements so that you can take legal action with a personal injury attorney who knows Michigan boating laws and personal injury law.
The Flint boat accident lawyers at the law firm of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. understand how important it is to offer legal help to boat accident victims who were seriously injured or to loved ones whose family members suffered wrongful deaths because of someone else’s negligence. We have developed expertise in handling these types of cases and know how best to represent our clients’ interests.
We have a proven track record of offering our clients effective representation in all types of personal injury cases, including auto accidents, trucking accidents, and boat accidents so they receive the maximum compensation for their losses. Give us a phone call today at 866-MICH-LAW or fill out our free consultation form for a no-obligation consultation regarding your case.
Is boat insurance required in Michigan?
There is no requirement for boats to carry insurance in Michigan, so victims of boat accidents may not have the option of filing an insurance claim against the boat operator. It may still be possible to file a claim against the boat operator/owner’s homeowners’ umbrella insurance policy.
However, Michigan watercraft registration is required for all watercraft 20 feet and longer and all watercraft with an attached engine, unless the watercraft is specifically exempt from registration like canoes or kayaks not used for rental or commercial purposes.
What is the deadline for filing a lawsuit in Michigan?
In Michigan, a personal injury claim must be filed within three years of the date of the accident. If you fail to file within these three years, you may lose your right to file a claim.
Can boating accident victims in Michigan recover damages?
You may be able to receive compensation following a boat accident in Michigan. Financial compensation can cover medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and rehabilitation. Compensation can also cover noneconomic damages, like mental anguish and pain and suffering. Talk to an attorney about your specific case.
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.