Boating accidents can cause serious injury or death, and can cost millions of dollars in property damage. Our injury and disability attorneys are working with some very experienced boating accident attorneys, who can file a lawsuit on your behalf and charge no fee until you receive an award or settlement. Feel free to contact us toll free anytime or visit us online for a free consultation.
The Southern New England waterways are spectacular and boating is certainly an enjoyable way to experience them. With the amount of traffic on the water, these accidents are bound to happen. The term boating accident is legally defined as an incident involving a boat where one of three things takes place:
- Injury or loss of life,
- Disappearance of a passenger with suspected injury or loss of life, or
- Damage to the boat beyond a certain amount of money that varies by state.
Unfortunately, over 750 deaths occur annually in America as a result of watercraft accidents. In addition to these deaths, thousands of people are injured as a result of boats capsizing, individuals falling overboard, and collisions between vessels. Complex legal and safety issues arise with these accidents, and a qualified boat accident lawyer may be in the best position to advise you of your rights.
Collision with other boats is the most common cause of injury and death on the water. Other causes of injury are: slip and falls on deck, alcohol and drug use by operators, malfunctioning boat equipment, and inexperienced operators of vessels. Generally, the owner and operator of a boat have a responsibility to exercise the highest degree of care in order to prevent injury and death to others.
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Coastal waters have many dangers, including shallows, submerged rocks, and other hazards. During the summer especially, coastal waters can become congested with inexperienced and distracted boaters. The more boats on the water, the higher the risk of accidents, and the greater the risk of injury.
Statistics indicate these incidents cost millions of dollars of damage each year. In a recent 2011 report, the US Coast Guard said there was approximately $52 million in property damage caused by these accidents. This is in addition to the 4,588 accidents that occurred and were reported to the Coast Guard. The amount of property damage does not take into account any pain and suffering experienced, or the time taken off from work as a result of boating injuries.
These types of claims can involve complex legal issues. The injury and disability lawyers at d’Oliveira & Associates have experience handling challenging and difficult lawsuits where injury or disability resulted.
When to File a Boat Accident Report
Federal law requires that all accidents must have an accompanying report filed with state or federal authorities. Accidents requiring the operator (or owner, if operator is unavailable) to file a report are:
- Death or disappearance
- Boating injury requiring medical attention (beyond first aid)
- Property damage in excess of $2,000 (including damage to both boats and any other property)
- Loss of both or either vessel
In the case of death, disappearance, or injury, the report must be filed within 48 hours. In any other instance, the report must be filed within 10 days.
Top 10 Causes of Boating Accidents – Coast Guard 2011 Data
The US Coast Guard’s Recreational Boating Statistics Guide for 2011 shows that most accidents were caused by events that were either partly or entirely within the control of the boat’s operator. If the boat operator had exercised the proper caution, most of these accidents could – and should – have been avoided. Here are the top 10 causes of these types of accidents from the Coast Guard’s report:
- Operator Inattention
There are countless distractions onboard a boat. However, operators of boats should be expected to stay alert and pay close attention to the weather, the boat, and the passengers. The unpredictability of the wind, weather, and water requires that operators watch out for early warning signs of danger. Statistics indicate operator inattention and distraction as the leading cause of accidents.
- Improper Lookout
Improper lookout was another factor contributing to accidents. A lookout should be designated to watch out for threats or hazards. Failure to do so can have catastrophic consequences.
- Operator Inexperience
Operator inexperience was the third leading cause of accidents. Boat operators need to understand the basics of boating, including: admiralty law, navigation rules, and how to handle emergency situations.
- Excessive Speed
Boating at a safe speed ensures the operator and boat passengers have time to react to dangers.
- Machinery Failure
Proper maintenance of the boat is the responsibility of the owner, but routine checks should be made by the operator to ensure the boat is in good condition. Equipment failures can be very problematic.
- Alcohol Use
Alcohol use can be a factor in accidents resulting in death or serious injury. Most states have the same alcohol limits for boat operators as they do for automobile drivers.
- Hazardous Waters
Hazardous waters arise when sudden changes in the current or rapid tidal flows make it difficult to operate boats. While some hazardous waters are unpredictable, there are some rough areas that attract operators of smaller vessels without regard to the dangers of the waters. Operators should be mindful in the event that any of these conditions come up.
Some people fail to check weather conditions when the sky appears clear and sunny because they assume that fair weather will continue. Some choose to just ignore the weather conditions. Boat operators should always keep an eye on the weather conditions when heading in or out for trips.
- Rules of the Road on the Water
Violations of rules governing the navigation of vessels are often among the top causes of accidents. Boaters can know how to operate their craft, but may not be certain of rules of the road.
- Force of Waves/Wake
A wake follows the track of a moving boat. This is the disturbance of the water resulting from the passage of the boat’s hull. The force of the wake/waves can cause accidents, injuries, and even death.
If you or a loved one has experienced injuries from a boating accident death due to another’s error or negligence, you may have a right to compensation for the injuries and losses you sustained.
Meeting with a Boating Accident Attorney
Consultations with a lawyer can be more productive if the prospective client comes prepared. For those who have been injured in a collision, it is helpful to bring along any written documentation you have regarding your injury and damages. Helpful documentation to present to your lawyer may include:
- Copies of Coast Guard or accident reports detailing your injury.
- Copies of hospital, doctor, and therapy records.
- A list of all care providers who have provided treatment or a consultation on your injury.
- Bills from medical care providers.
- Information regarding any insurance coverage of your medical bills.
- Reports from doctors regarding your diagnosis and prognosis.
- Information about projected future medical costs.
- Information regarding work you miss (and may continue to miss) due to your injury.
- A list of ways your life has been affected by your injury.
- A calendar with important dates noted. (i.e. date of injury, dates of surgery or other treatment)
- A description of any interaction with insurance companies.
- Copies of correspondence with insurance companies.
- Documentation regarding weather conditions (including Coast Guard warnings and so on) for the date of your injury.
- >And any other relevant paperwork…
Damages That May Be Recoverable Following Your Boating Accident:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses related to injuries you sustained in the accident.
- Damage caused to your personal property, including your boat.
- Lost income.
- Pain and suffering.
Contact d’Oliveira & Associates at 1-800-992-6878 or fill out a contact form for your free consultation.