Boating can be a fun, relaxing, and exhilarating way to spend leisure time. However, much like driving a car, driving a boat comes with responsibilities. Boat operators must abide by various state and federal boating laws and regulations. Unfortunately, when things go wrong on a boat, they can go tragically wrong. A fun and carefree day on the water can quickly turn into a nightmare that you and your family might never forget.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a boating accident, our experienced attorneys could help you recover compensation. The cost of hiring a boating accident lawyer at Morgan & Morgan is free initially, as you only pay if and when we win. Our attorneys then recover their fee as a percentage of your settlement. Contact us now for a free, no-obligation review of your case.
Boating Accidents Facts and Figures
According to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), in 2020 alone, recreational boating accounted for 5,265 accidents with 767 fatalities, 3,191 injuries, and around $62.5 million of property damage. The fatalities figure represents a staggering rise of 25 percent from 2019, according to USCG, and is thought to be partially due to a significant increase in boat ownership during the pandemic. USCG identified alcohol use as the leading factor of fatal accidents, accounting for 18% of boating accident deaths.
Powerboats are not the only vessels used in recreational boating activities that could be involved in accidents. Accidents and injuries can happen on a variety of different vessels, including:
- Kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards
- Sailing boats
- Jet-skis and other personal watercraft
- Fishing boats
Common Injuries in Recreational Boating Accidents
Boating does not come without some risks. Injuries on the water can occur due to numerous reasons, for example, colliding with another boat, grounding, or persons falling overboard, as well as others. Common injuries in boating accidents can include:
Head and Brain Injuries
Brain injuries, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), can occur due to trauma to the head after falling from the boat or by being struck by an object. However, brain injuries and brain damage can also occur due to oxygen deprivation during a near-drowning event.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can cause lifelong paralysis and can occur due to a high-speed impact, for example, during a collision. However, spinal compression, which can happen when the boat bounces up and down in rough weather, could cause spinal injuries such as herniated discs.
Cuts and Lacerations
During a boating accident, objects or glass can fly around and cause cuts and lacerations. Outboard engines with exposed propellers can severely harm those in the water, potentially causing deep gashes or severed limbs. Propeller injuries, in particular, can cause permanently disabling or fatal injuries.
Modern recreational boats can have a sophisticated electrical system and numerous appliances, which could cause electrocution if the vessel lacks adequate maintenance. Electrocutions can be deadly and cause serious heart arrhythmias and painful electrical burns.
Other injuries commonly seen in recreational boating accidents include:
- Cardiac arrest
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
Injuries from boating accidents can turn your life upside down and cause immense physical, emotional, and financial consequences. If you get injured in a boat accident due to another’s recklessness or negligence, our seasoned boating accident lawyers can walk you through your legal options and fight for what you deserve.
Causes of Boating Accidents
Boating accidents can occur for various reasons. However, injured victims could recover compensation if another’s negligence caused their injuries. Negligent reasons for boating accidents can include but are not limited to:
- Excessive speeding
- Failing to abide by boating laws and regulations
- Inexperienced or untrained boat operators
- Boat defects
- Failure to maintain the boat adequately
- Intoxicated boat operators
- Distracted boating
- Failure to supply safety equipment such as lifejackets
If you got hurt or a loved one died due to a negligent boat operator, you could file a lawsuit for damages. However, maritime laws might apply, and boating accidents can involve complex legal issues. Working with a boating accident lawyer who has experience handling such claims and knows the applicable laws can be crucial.
Who Is Responsible for Your Damages?
If another boat operator collides with your vessel resulting in injuries and property damage, you could have a claim against their insurance company or them personally. However, if you or a loved one got hurt in a boating accident, you need to protect your legal rights immediately. Your next best steps after a boat accident can include:
- Calling the coast guard or the police
- Seeking medical advice
- Contacting a boating accident lawyer for help and advice
Not all accidents happen due to a negligent boat operator. If your boating accident happened as a result of a boat defect, you could have a claim against a boat maker or part manufacturer. If you suffered injuries on a trip with a negligent tour operator, for example, on a diving or fishing excursion, you could potentially have a claim against them.
Establishing Liability Can Be Complex
Boating accident laws and regulations involve local, state, and federal authorities and can deal with a number of issues such as:
- Boating under the influence
- Lifejacket and other safety equipment laws
- Navigation rules and regulations
The laws are generally enforced to ensure the safety of all those on the water and offer legal recourse to those harmed in avoidable accidents. Since accident claims can be complex, seeking legal advice from an attorney could be essential for recovering what you deserve. There is no upfront cost for a boating accident lawyer at our firm. We fight for victims on a “no-win-no-fee” basis.
Boating Accident Victims Could Receive Compensation
If you got harmed in a boating accident, you might be entitled to a settlement from the responsible party. While there is no average settlement for a boating accident as injuries and circumstances can vary greatly, you could be entitled to economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are intended to reimburse victims for expenses and damages resulting from a negligent boating accident. Economic damages you could receive can include but are not limited to:
- All medical bills connected to boating accident injuries
- Estimated future medical expenses
- Loss of wages and estimated future income losses
- Modifications to your home and vehicle
- Out-of-pocket expenses
Some boating injuries, such as being struck by a propeller or experiencing a near-drowning, can cause life-altering injuries and permanent disability. Victims with significant injuries could be entitled to non-economic damages for pain and suffering and other subjective losses. Non-economic damages can include awards for:
- Physical pain and anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of a limb
- Reduced life enjoyment
Boating Accident Wrongful Death Lawsuit
According to theUSCG, most fatalities on the water happen due to drowning, trauma, or sudden cardiac arrest. If your loved one died on the water, another boat operator or the operator of the boat they were traveling on could be responsible. One of our boating accident lawyers can help determine whether you could file a wrongful death lawsuit. An attorney can also analyze the accident and identify all liable parties.
Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
While a lawsuit cannot bring back your loved one, it can help with recovering the financial resources you need to go on with your life after suffering a tragic loss. You could potentially recover several types of damages if your loved one passed away in a tragic boating accident. While damages can vary, you could recover, among other types of compensation:
- Medical expenses before your loved one died
- Pain and suffering
- Income and benefits from the decedent
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of inheritance