Who Is Liable in a Boating Accident?
Determining liability for a boating accident depends on how the accident occurred. One or more parties are potentially liable depending on the circumstances of the incident and the resulting damages. For example, a boat operator could face liability for multiple passengers’ damages if they failed to properly maintain their boat before leaving shore, if they did not have appropriate safety devices onboard, or operated the boat under the influence of alcohol. Boat operators will also absorb liability for a boating accident if they fail to heed posted waterway signals, buoys, and other warnings that indicate dangerous areas.
Third parties may also be liable for your recent boating accident. For example, if you are riding a personal watercraft and another watercraft operator crashes into you because they were not paying attention, they would be liable for your damages. A parts manufacturer may also absorb liability for a boating accident if an investigation reveals your boating accident occurred due to a defect in the boat, a vital part of the boat, or a piece of safety equipment.
What Is a Legal Reason to Report a Boating Accident?
Most drivers know that they should report any car accident to the police if it results in injury, death, or significant property damage. The same type of rule applies to boating accidents, but this law exists at the federal level. It is legally necessary to report any boating accident resulting in an estimated $2,000 or more in property damage, physical injury of any kind, or death. Failure to report boating accidents required by federal law can incur substantial penalties, including fines and jail time. Each state, including California, upholds its own laws regarding reporting requirements for boating accidents, so it is always best to err on the side of caution and report any boating accident you experience to the authorities immediately.
Why Do I Need a Boating Accident Attorney?
Boating accident claims are some of the most challenging motor vehicle accidents to handle. It is unlikely that the average person with no formal legal experience will be able to navigate the court procedures necessary for pursuing compensation in a boat accident claim. Additionally, even if they were successful, they would be very unlikely to secure as much compensation as experienced Huntington Beach boating accident attorneys could. Finally, it is very difficult to navigate any legal claim without representation even under the best of circumstances, so it will be extraordinarily difficult to do so while also suffering from severe injuries.
Hiring a boat accident lawyer to represent your claim means you can enjoy peace of mind knowing your case is in trustworthy hands as you focus on your recovery. If your case involves dealing with insurance companies, your attorney can handle correspondence with claim adjusters on your behalf as well. Ultimately, you stand a much better chance of success with your boat accident claim when you work with an experienced Huntington Beach boating accident lawyer.
Damages and Compensation in Your Boat Accident Injury Claim
Boating accidents fall under the purview of personal injury law. Your Huntington beach boating accident attorneys will work closely with you to determine which parties bear liability for your damages and the full scope of damages you can expect to recover from your lawsuit. Boating accidents can be traumatic experiences that cause devastating physical injuries, and some boating accidents are tragically fatal. For example, many boating accident claims involve drowning injuries. While a drowning victim may be resuscitated and their life saved, the oxygen deprivation may cause significant brain damage and lead to permanent disability.
It’s essential to work with an experienced Huntington Beach boating accident lawyer to ensure you claim the correct amount of compensation in your lawsuit. Your boating accident claim could potentially allow you to recover damages such as:
- Medical expenses. A personal injury plaintiff has the right to claim compensation for their immediate and anticipated future medical expenses resulting from the incident in question. If your boating accident resulted in a disability, you could expect to receive compensation for the long-term medical care you are likely to require. Otherwise, you can expect to receive compensation for all medical expenses necessary to help you reach maximum medical improvement from your injuries.
- Lost wages. Your injury may leave you unable to work for a long time while you recover. You can claim income lost during this time as damages. If your injuries caused a permanent disability or condition that leaves you unable to return to work or unable to work at all in the future, your boat accident lawyers could help you secure compensation for lost future earning capacity.
- Property damage. If your personal property was damaged or destroyed in a boating accident, you could claim these losses as well.
- Pain and suffering. Many personal injuries are physically painful and emotionally traumatizing. California’s personal injury laws allow a plaintiff to recover compensation reflecting the physical pain and psychological suffering endured due to the defendant’s negligence.
Some plaintiffs may also receive additional compensation in the form of punitive damages. Judges will award punitive damages at their discretion when a defendant’s behavior exceeds the scope of typical negligence or was intentionally harmful. If the defendant engaged in any criminal action or deliberately intended to hurt the victim, they will likely face criminal prosecution as well as a civil claim from their victim, and restitution to the victim could be part of their sentence.
Proving Liability for Your Boating Accident Injury
Your Huntington Beach boating accident attorneys at Easton & Easton can help you explore the full range of damages available to claim in your case, and we can also help you ensure the party responsible for your damages is held accountable. Personal injury law requires proof of negligence or a party’s failure to exercise a reasonable level of care in a given situation. When it comes to a boating accident, the defendant in your claim could be the operator of your boat, the operator of another personal watercraft, or any other party who caused your accident.
Establishing negligence requires proving the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached this duty of care in some way, and directly caused your claimed damages. You may only claim compensation for damages that directly resulted from the defendant’s negligence.
Proving liability in some boating accident claims is more complicated than it is in others. For example, you may face multiple defendants depending on how your accident occurred, and the court will ultimately decide each defendant’s percentage of responsibility for your losses. California also upholds a pure comparative negligence statute, meaning a plaintiff could potentially absorb partial liability for their claimed damages if they were in any way responsible for causing them. If found partially at fault, the plaintiff would lose a percentage of their case award equal to the fault percentage assigned by the judge overseeing the case. For example, if you claim $200,000 in damages and the court finds you 10% at fault, you will lose 10% or $20,000 of your case award and receive $180,000 instead.
What to Expect From Your Boating Accident Injury Lawyers
Navigating a boat accident claim is much easier when you have an experienced and reliable Huntington Beach boating accident lawyer on your side. A good attorney will begin representing your case by exploring the full scope of your damages. This often requires obtaining a medical report from the physician who treated your injuries after the accident, as well as their prognosis for future medical complications you are likely to experience from your injuries. Your attorney may also contact expert witnesses with backgrounds in specific medical fields to further solidify your claim for medical expenses and long-term medical costs resulting from your boating accident.
The next phase of your representation will likely focus on determining liability for your damages and gathering the evidence you will require for holding liable parties accountable for their actions. Your attorney can help you secure the police report from your boating accident, gather statements from eyewitnesses and other victims, and determine what other pieces of evidence will be necessary for your claim.
Settlement Vs. Litigation
The majority of personal injury claims filed in the United States settle outside of court. This saves all parties involved a significant amount of time and money. Once the defendant settles, they will be released from future liability related to the claim, and the plaintiff will secure compensation much more quickly through settlement. However, a settlement requires both parties to be willing to negotiate. A settlement is also more difficult when multiple defendants come into play. If a defendant contests liability or assumes liability but disagrees with the plaintiff’s amount of claimed damages, a settlement could prove unfruitful.
If the parties are unwilling to settle or settlement negotiations fail, the case will move to litigation. This can be a very lengthy process. Some personal injury claims could take several months or even over a year before the parties involved reach a resolution. Litigation begins with a discovery process during which the parties involved in the case share material evidence and conduct depositions. Next, the parties will have the opportunity to submit petitions for pre-trial motions and set the tone for the case. Finally, the case proceeds to court, where the judge will consider evidence and testimony before delivering a ruling that aligns with relevant state laws.
Find Your Legal Team Today
As your Huntington Beach boating accident attorneys, the team at Easton & Easton will do everything we can to streamline your case proceedings and secure maximum compensation for your damages. We have successfully represented many boating accident cases in California and can put our experience and resources to work in your claim. If you are ready to discuss your options for legal recourse with a compassionate and trustworthy Huntington Beach boating accident lawyer, contact Easton & Easton today to schedule a case review with our team.