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Boating Accident Injury Settlements
Boating is a wonderful way to relax and have fun in the sun. But accidents happen with boats often. The US Coast Guard states that there were 4,158 boating accidents in the United States in 2015, with 626 deaths. Those boating accidents also resulted in 2,613 injuries and $42 million in property damage.
If you or a loved one was hurt in a boating accident or sailing accident, you probably are wondering what your legal rights are. Might you be entitled to compensation for your boating accident injuries? This article lays out the key things to be aware of with boating accident settlements, how they might differ from car accident settlements, and when it makes sense to hire a boat accident lawyer to help with your injury claim.
Negligence in Boating Accidents
The key factor with any type of preventable accident is that of negligence, which is defined under the law as failing to act with ‘reasonable care.” If you are hurt on a sailboat or motor boat, you must prove in court that your injuries were caused by the negligence of another party. Only if you prove to a judge or jury that the other party was responsible will you recover financial damages – lost wages, medical costs, pain and suffering, etc.
It is the job of your personal injury attorney to prove that another person failed to perform their duties of reasonable care in a big boating accident or sailing accident, and that failure directly caused your accident injuries.
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Common Causes of Boat Accidents
It helps to describe the most common reasons for accidents on the water to get a better idea of how a personal injury claim could work. Below are the most common reasons that these accidents happen. In most of these situations, another boat operator may have been negligent, depending upon the circumstances:
Inattention by the operator
The boat operator is required by the law to be alert and aware of what is going on around the watercraft. If the operator of another boat or your boat is not paying attention to operating the watercraft and you are hurt, this could result in a personal injury lawsuit.
Improper look out
It also is common for the boat operator to not designate a lookout, which can lead to hitting another boat or an obstacle in the water.
The US Coast Guard states that operator inexperience is a very common reason for boat crashes. Operators must understand the basics of operating a boat safely as well as the navigation rules. They also must be able to handle emergencies as they occur.
A boat must be operated at a safe speed, just as a car or truck would. This gives the operator time to react to other boats and any dangers on the water. If the operator of your or another boat is speeding, he or she could be liable for your injuries.
Boating under the influence (BUI)
Similar to drunk driving car accidents, boating while drunk or high on drugs is a common reason that serious injuries and deaths occur on the water. In most states, the legal limit for boat operators is a blood alcohol level of 0.08%.
Failure of equipment
Maintaining a boat properly is vital for operating the craft in a safe manner. The boat owner must maintain the boat safely to ensure that it is safe for the water.
Breaking navigational rules
There are rules on the water just as on the roads. If another boat does not follow the rules of navigation and hits your boat, he or she may be liable in court.
Dangerous weather and waters
Water conditions can change fast. Some dangerous conditions cannot be anticipated, but there are adverse weather conditions that can be anticipated. Boat operators must be cognizant of potential water and weather conditions.
Wakes and waves
Wake refers to the water disturbance behind the boat when it passes. A large wake or wave can cause serious personal injuries.
It is your attorney’s job to show in court that the boat operator was negligent in one or more of the above circumstances. If he is successful, you may be entitled to compensation for your accident injuries.
Note that the boat operator is required under federal law to file an accident report when an accident happens on the water. This is required when there is property damage or serious personal injury. This often is not done. So if you are hurt, you should be proactive and contact law enforcement and make sure that the boating accident has been reporting. This could be important to getting a fair injury claim amount from insurance later.
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