Any injury that occurs on or with a boat is considered to be a boating accident. A boating accident can occur on someone’s privately owned boat, a commercial boat, a jet ski, or even a ferry.
The Coast Guard compiles statistics on recreational and boating accidents. All fifty states, five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia submit accident report data to the Coast Guard for inclusion in the annual Boating Statistics publication. According to those statistics, there are nearly 12 million registered boats in the United States
Nationally, more than 8000 people are injured in boating accidents annually, and over 800 people die as a result. Alcohol consumption contributes to nearly 40% of boating fatalities. Jet Skis account for 20% of boating injuries and fatalities where the victim is under 18, and 33% where the victim is younger than 16.
California, with over one million registered watercrafts, has the second highest boating accident rate in the country, with approximately 800 such accidents per year, resulting in sixty deaths. Many locals and tourists are attracted to California’s beautiful beaches and warm ocean waters, making boating, jet skiing, water skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and other water sports extremely popular here. While entertaining and exciting, these activities create unique dangers of severe personal injury, including brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, concussions, and even wrongful death.
Causes of Boating Injuries
Although a collision with other boats is the most common cause of injury or death in boating accidents, slip and falls, sinking, and underwater impact injuries also cause a significant number of boating injuries. Underwater impact injuries, which occur when someone in the water is struck by a boat or its propeller, often cause severe injuries and tragic consequences. Swimmers, water skiers, and scuba divers are particularly at risk.
The Law on Boating Accidents
When there is a boating accident, the operator must provide his or her name, address, and vessel registration number to the other parties and must also provide assistance to any injured persons. In the case of a death or disappearance, the boat operator must report the accident immediately to law enforcement officials. Additionally, a written report must be filed with the Department of Boating and Waterways within 48 hours if the boating accident results in the death or disappearance of a person, an injury requiring medical treatment beyond basic first aid, or property damage exceeding $500. Someone who fails to do these things may be held both civilly and criminally liable.
Generally, both the owner and operator of a boat must exercise the highest degree of care to prevent injuries and death to others. Because operator error, operator inexperience, reckless driving, intoxication, or boat malfunction cause nearly all boating accidents, liability for the resultant injuries will lie somewhere. Thus, according to the law, there is rarely a true boating “accident.”
When there has been an injury from a watercraft accident, there are a number of legal questions to be addressed. For example, the likely outcome of your claim may depend on a host of factors, including:
- The specific activity being performed at the time of the accident
- The equipment involved
- Whether that equipment was in disrepair, defective, or subject to recall
- The age of the persons involved
- Whether the activity was personal or related to business
- Whether there was a commercial renter involved
- Whether the boat operator was trained in first aid
- The available safety equipment
- Whether there was a way for the operator to notify emergency personnel
- The role, if any, alcohol played in the accident
- The speed with which the operator notified authorities
- Whether the accident was investigated by government authorities
- Whether any waivers were signed and what, specifically, the waivers said
Additionally, many boating cases involve complex legal issues ranging from diversity jurisdiction to state and federal conflict of law rules. It is imperative to have an experienced attorney who will know the right questions to ask in order to evaluate your claim accurately and to represent you aggressively.
WHAT TO DO:
If you or a family member has been injured in a boating accident:
1.Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. Go to an emergency room or an urgent care as soon as you experience any pain or discomfort following an accident. Even if you don’t see any external injuries, it is extremely important to be evaluated to see if you have any fractures, a closed head injury, or internal bleeding. If you do not you’re your injuries require emergency medical care, see your family doctor as soon as possible. If you delay in seeking medical care, you could be making a costly mistake. At the Law Office of Slaughter & Slaughter, we work with medical doctors, chiropractors, and therapists who specialize in treating people who have been injured in an accident. Even if you do not have health insurance coverage, Slaughter & Slaughter can provide medical referrals for you to receive appropriate treatment.
2.Limit your communication insurance adjusters. It is generally okay to speak with the adjuster about property damage, but, do not talk about your injuries. The adjuster’s job is to obtain information to use against you when it is time to pay your claim. The goal is to pay you as little money as is possible to settle your claim. So, with regard to your injuries, simply tell the adjuster you were hurt in the accident and that you are seeking medical treatment, and decline to go into any further detail.
3.Contact an experienced attorney. Boating accidents often involve complex jurisdictional and conflict of laws rules. Failing to have the proper legal representation can cost you thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also, the attorney can deal with any insurance adjusters. As tempting as it may be, don’t be lured into signing a release in exchange for a quick settlement. Once you sign that release, you cannot ask for more money, which will be tragic if you find out that your injuries have not fully resolved and you need additional medical care.
The Law Offices of
Slaughter & Slaughter
402 West Broadway,
San Diego CA 92101
There is no reason to suffer alone from the effects of a boating accident. We can help you bring a claim and strive to get the compensation you and your family will need for a lifetime of coping with this catastrophic injury. Our compassionate personal injury lawyers want to see you achieve the best resolution possible.
We serve clients throughout Southern California, including Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and the communities of La Jolla, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista, Encinitas, Escondido, Pacific Beach, San Diego, Los Angeles, Chula Vista, and surrounding areas.
Don’t delay, call today for more information and a free evaluation of your claim.
Call now for a FREE consultation 888-207-5321