Common Causes of Boating Accidents & Injuries
When boating accidents are involved, just as in car accidents on the highway, multiple people may be at fault and negligent. The many reasons for boating accidents may include:
- Boating under the influence
- Inexperience of the operator
- Operator Error (distraction, speed, negligence)
- Violation of laws enacted to protect boaters
- Equipment failure
- Waves or wakes
- Tide/depth of water
Boating personal injury claims are very similar to vehicular personal injury claims, as the courts determine who was negligent and what compensation will be provided.
The US Constitution Article III provides that federal courts have jurisdiction over admiralty and maritime cases. However, in rare instances, jurisdiction may remain in the state court system.
What Is the First Thing You Should Do When Involved in a Boating Accident?
If you are the boat or personal watercraft operator, stop the watercraft immediately and check on the passengers, unless you would pose a risk of further damage by leaving the boat’s controls. Once everyone has been secured, call the experts at Easton & Easton to make sure you are protecting your rights. Early involvement of your personal injury attorney is essential to making sure you secure just compensation for your personal injury.
When Do You Need to Report a Boating Accident?
If you are the captain or the boat’s owner/operator, you may wonder what the reporting requirements after a boating accident are. As in every legal question, it depends. Federal and state requirements are different. Federal reporting requirements are enacted in the following scenarios:
- A death occurs.
- The boat is destroyed.
- A person is missing.
- An injury requires medical treatment.
- The boat or any other personal watercraft incurred more than $2,000 in damages.
State law requires notification if the boating accident results in:
- A death occurs.
- The boat is destroyed.
- A person is missing.
- A person is injured needing more than just first aid.
- Damage above $500 to any vessel or property.
Accidents must be reported within a specific time. The deadline is either 24 hours, 48 hours, or 10 days. That’s why it is important to contact the personal injury attorneys of Easton & Easton to ensure that the deadlines are met. Failure to report can constitute a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or imprisonment not to exceed six months or both. The reason for such a policy is to help the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways develop and implement safety strategies.
As a boat owner/operator, you need to understand who is legally liable in boating accidents. The liable party is the party found to be negligent or reckless. Liability may not fall on just one person. Multiple people can be jointly liable for negligent action.
As an injured passenger in a personal watercraft, it is also essential to understand your rights to get the compensation you deserve for your injury. It begins with obtaining the legal representation of an experienced personal injury law firm—the personal injury lawyers of Easton & Easton.
Compensation Can Come in Many Forms
Medical expenses are the most common form of compensation. Monetary compensation for medical expenses should allow the injured party to reach maximum medical improvement. If permanent disability is at issue, compensation for long-term medical care should also be included.
Property damage is another common form of compensation. Damaged property can extend to personal property, including lost items in a boating accident.
Injured parties may also claim their lost wages in the compensation they are due. Lost wages include wages lost when recovering and future lost wages if a permanent disability occurs.
The injured person may also claim pain and suffering. This is a general category that the personal injury attorneys at Easton & Easton will discuss with clients. Pain and suffering includes psychological suffering as well as physical pain caused by the boating accident.
Punitive Damages Possible
It is possible to try to obtain punitive damages in personal watercraft injury cases. Punitive comes from the Latin root word, punire, “to inflict a penalty on.” Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the action rises to a level above simple negligence. Courts will look at whether the actions were intentionally harmful.
Additionally, criminal penalties are always a possibility depending on the actions of the responsible party. Criminal charges may concern boating while intoxicated, or the charges might be in the form of a specific violation of the boating laws and regulations.
How Do I Prove Liability in a Boating Accident?
Proof can come in many forms. With cell phones in every hand, video can often be the best physical evidence to show what occurred and who the negligent party is. Testimony from witnesses is another popular form of evidence. It is important to remember that the testimony of one witness, if believed by the judge or jury, is enough to establish liability.
Negligence will not always fall on a single party. It is possible that the operator of your personal watercraft or boat was speeding, and the other boat operator was boating under the influence. If both are determined negligent, both can be ordered to pay their fair share of the compensation.
Additionally, you can be held partially liable for negligence in the case.
Typically, a percentage is provided by the jury as far as who is responsible for what percentage of the crash. In rare cases, the personal injury attorneys at Easton & Easton will employ an accident reconstructionist who specializes in boat accidents.
How Do I Prove the Medical Expenses From an Injury Caused by a Boating Accident?
Testimony and documentation from medical providers are often required in court to prove your case and get the compensation you deserve. This testimony is also used to establish the injury to the plaintiff. The personal injury attorneys at Easton & Easton will be able to organize and present the medical evidence effectively.
How Do I Prove Lost Wages?
Lost wages are typically admissible in court in the form of previous pay stubs and testimony from employers. If permanent disability occurs, medical testimony related to that disability and testimony regarding future wages that have now been lost will be required.
How Do I Prove Property Damages for Compensation?
Testimony must be presented in the form of photographs of the damage, video of the damage, estimates to fix the damaged property, and testimony regarding the value lost due to the damages.
How Do I Prove Pain and Personal Suffering?
Typically, you, the plaintiff, will provide this testimony. What issues has this accident caused? Are you having problems sleeping, problems with anxiety? Boating accidents can be traumatizing, and the personal injury lawyers from Easton & Easton must ask for this additional compensation. This compensation is an attempt by the courts to make the person whole again. Sometimes that doesn’t happen, but the goal is to get as close to whole as possible.
An important step to take as an injured party is to keep a journal documenting your pain and suffering. Write down all medical appointments, pain associated with the accident, anxiety attacks, sleepless nights, and missed social engagements due to pain or anxiety. Documentation is key to presenting a thorough case to the court.
Are There Things That Can Help My Case?
Yes. Document everything. Immediately following the incident, take as many photographs as possible. Furthermore, if you can, get the name and contact information of all witnesses. This will help in future litigation.
If there does happen to be an insurance company associated with the accident, do not speak to their representatives until you have talked to one of the experienced personal injury lawyers at Easton & Easton.
Start a folder for the injury. Put all medical documentation, medical bills, pay stubs, lost wages, repair charges, and any other information regarding the incident in the folder.
Why Do I Need an Attorney?
Boating accidents can be extremely complicated. The legal system can be equally as complex. It is important that you have the experts at Easton & Easton leading the way to get you the compensation you deserve. Instead of focusing on the legal battle, you’ll be able to focus on your recovery, which is the most important thing.
Is There a Time Limit to File My Case?
Yes, there are time limitations in both federal and California courts. The experienced Anaheim personal injury attorneys at Easton & Easton can ensure that all time limits are adhered to.
Your priority after being injured is to ensure that you are safe and healthy. As soon as that is done, as soon as you are able, it is vital to contact our attorneys at Easton & Easton.