How to Find a Boat Accident Lawyer In Philadelphia

If you or someone you know has recently been hurt in a boating accident, it is essential to get help immediately. Boating accidents can be extremely complex, and the victim might also be suffering from significant injuries that make it hard for them to go on with their lives. 

In these circumstances, finding the best boat accident lawyer in Philadelphia is extremely important for protecting your rights. Unfortunately, boating accidents are too common. There are specific laws related to the sea, boats, and other types of waterways. While some boating accidents are truly that and cannot be avoided, others are caused by the negligence or incompetence of other parties. This is especially true when the person who caused the accident was under the influence of alcohol or drugs but leaves other individuals reeling from the consequences of the wreck.

Boating accidents can and do happen anywhere in Philadelphia. When they happen, the impacts for the victim can be long-lasting. 

Determine the Facts of Your Case 

One of the most important things you can do to protect your right to file an injury claim is to be prepared to find an attorney as soon as possible. Each state including Pennsylvania has specific rules known as the statute of limitations that limit a victim's ability to file an injury claim. It is the case that if you exceed the statute of limitations and attempt to file an otherwise legitimate claim after that point, that you may be denied the legal right to proceed. 

A few important facts should be documented on your end before you research a lawyer. They include: 

  • When the accident happened and where
  • The name of the other person and any witnesses who saw the accident 
  • Whether or not insurance companies were notified about the wreck 
  • What conditions you’ve been diagnosed with so far 
  • Whether you know anything about the possible causes of the accident, as a boater under the influence of alcohol 

Knowing this information will make your phone calls to personal injury law firms that much easier, and will also give you a sense as you do your research whether or not the law firm you are looking at has the appropriate experience and approach to these cases. 

Look for an Attorney with Experience in Maritime Law

Boating accidents are not like all other personal injury accidents. In fact, many personal injury lawyers focus primarily on vehicle accidents and in understanding the local and state rules relating to the road. Maritime law is an entirely separate area of the law. This is classified as federal law, meaning that the laws are over every state in the United States and the vast majority of boating accident disputes are resolved in federal court. Knowledge of the local area is necessary for understanding the circumstances in which the boating accident occurred and for the proper gathering of evidence in that local area. Your boating accident lawyer in Philadelphia can help. 

There are a few different kinds of boating accidents that are covered by admiralty law or maritime law, meaning that it is essential to retain a boating accident lawyer with extensive experience. The most common kinds of boating accidents that fall under this category include:

  •                  Criminal activity that led to accidents and injuries harming others
  •                  Alleged violations of maritime labor regulations
  •                  Vessel flooding
  •                  Commercial shipping wrecks that involve cargo damage
  •                  An employee's injury or death while working in the water on a vessel
  •                  Collisions between a fixed object and a vessel
  •                  Collision between two vessels

This can lead to complex boat accident situations because not all navigators of boats are required to learn boating safety. There may also be multiple parties responsible for the injuries sustained, such as if someone owned the boat and was responsible for hiring and training the person who was operating the boat but failed to do so.

Carry Out an Online Search 

An online search is the easiest way to determine the lawyers near you have the appropriate background in boating accident law. Remember that some of them may pay for advertising placements based on online Search terms, so you'll want to dig into their website and find out whether they have relevant content, testimonials, or case outcomes related to boating wrecks. 

On the website, read through the bios of the staff and see how long they’ve been working in that field. Do they have a team of resources, like paralegals, to help pull together the details of each case? Have they published articles on their website about common questions boating accident victims have? These are all good indications that at least a part of their practice is in this space. 

Hire an Attorney Who Is Familiar with the Lay of the Land Following an Accident

There are many different common causes of boating accidents, including speeding while operating a vessel, out operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs, inexperience or negligence while operating a vessel and lack of boat maintenance or machinery failure. It is critical that you identify an attorney who has extensive experience in this field and who is prepared to gather the proper evidence and make a case on your behalf. In the event that you need to file a case that operates under maritime law, there are strict statutes of limitation for these different types of boating accidents. These refer to the amount of time you have between the incident's original occurrence and filing a legal action for that incident. The most common statutes of limitation associated with boating accidents include the Jones' Act, the Longshore Harbor and Workers' Compensation Act, and the Death on the High Sea Act. When meeting with an attorney for an initial consultation after searching for "how to find the best boating accident lawyer in Philadelphia" you'll want to make sure that your attorney is familiar with the names of these laws and has handled other cases involving these types of claims. For the Jones' Act an employee who has been involved with the transportation of goods for trade has to file their personal injury claim within three years of an incident.

Under the Longshore Harbor and Workers' Compensation Act, when an employee has been hurt on a working vessel, they have a maximum time period of one year to file a legal action to receive workers' compensation. Under the Death on the High Sea Act, this gives the family members of a person who is involved in a wrongful death situation no longer than three years to file legal action.

If in the state of Pennsylvania, your boat accident lawyer in Philadelphia should also have managed cases within the Commonwealth and be aware of common trends with boating accidents, judges, and case outcomes in that area. Knowledge of the land or waterway near your accident could prove helpful in the case.

Look for an Attorney Who has Reviews Involving Boating Accidents

One of the best things you can do to educate yourself about a law firm's experience is to read the reviews of past clients. It is expected that a boating accident law firm will have content about boating accidents on their website due to their significant experience in serving these kinds of cases. You'll also want to see what past clients have had to say by looking through various review sites to see whether they name issues related to boating accidents. 

The specifics of boating accidents require someone who has a background in this field to help you with things that go beyond the legal aspects of your personal injury claim. For example, you might need to make an official report for the vessel owner or for the employer, or even your state's waterway department or the coastguard. It can be difficult to understand how these might influence the speed or outcome of your case but this and the knowledge about evidence that can help make a boating accident case are crucial for your future. 

Furthermore, you'll want an attorney who has experience with boating under the influence cases if the other party involved in the boating accident was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident. The right attorney can make a compelling case for the injuries you sustained and how your life has been forever changed.       

Your and your lawyer should have similar views on what a positive case outcome looks like. This does not always mean that you’ll walk away with the settlement amount you had in mind, but it does mean your lawyer knows your personal preferences and boundaries. Imagine that the insurance company offers a settlement amount far below what you’d be willing to accept. Being aligned on that already will help your lawyer adapt and respond in that moment when it’s presented, which could be helpful for moving your case in the right direction and getting to an offer that’s more in line with your injuries and needs. 

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John Morgan