By: Henri M. Saunders
As summer approaches, unfortunately the frequency of recreational boating accidents tends to rise. As such, this serves as a timely reminder to consider the essential aspects of boating accident liability and how injured parties can be compensated for damages and losses incurred in an accident.
First, it’s important to note that recreational boating accidents are treated differently than injuries incurred while working on a vessel. Injured parties can recover expenses and damages in both situations, but the processes look a little different in recreational accidents.
To help you know your rights and what to do if you’re involved in a boating accident, here’s a brief overview of how boating cases are handled by insurance companies and courts.
Liability in Boating Accidents
If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, you can seek restitution through an insurance claim or a lawsuit. In both instances, it’s important to determine who was responsible for the accident as injured parties may seek restitution from the responsible party.
In boating accidents, the responsible parties may include:
- The boat operator for failing to provide passengers with reasonably safe conditions, operating the vessel while intoxicated, reckless operation, disregarding boating laws, knowing about and failing to interfere with a passenger’s reckless behavior, or knowingly loaning the boat to someone not qualified to operate the boat.
- A passenger who is engaging in reckless behavior or preventing the boat operator from doing his or her job.
- The boat manufacturer if the injury resulted from a manufacturing defect.
- A boat rental company if the accident was caused by maintenance issues that resulted from the boat not being properly maintained or repaired.
When bringing a case against a responsible party, the injured party must show that the defendant had a duty of care and responsibility to protect the injured party from care; the responsible party was negligent; damages occurred; and the responsible party’s negligence and breach of duty caused the harm.
Damages Awarded in Boating Accident Lawsuits
If you’ve been injured in a boating accident caused by the negligence of another party, you are entitled to recover a variety of damages in an attempt to cover losses and “make you whole.”
Damages awarded in boating accident cases include:
- Compensation for medical costs and medical bills;
- Compensation for future medical bills;
- Past and future lost wages if you were or are unable to work;
- Compensation for any property damage that resulted from the boating accident; and
- Compensation for pain and suffering or any decrease in quality of life resulting from the boating accident.
In addition, it’s necessary to note that if an individual is killed in a boating accident, surviving family members can bring a suit to seek compensation for their loss. In these cases, damages can be awarded for financial support, end-of-life expenses, and pain and suffering.
What to Do If You’re Involved in a Boating Accident
If you’re ever involved in a boating accident, it’s important to gather as much information as you can at the time of the accident. This includes
- Getting the full name and contact information of everyone involved and anyone that witnessed the accident;
- Getting the registration number and insurance information for all boats involved in the accident;
- Taking photos or videos whenever possible to document what happened, all injuries, and all property damage.
Finally, it’s important to note that boat operators must report accidents and provide accident reports if a boating accident causes injuries or death; if someone is missing after a boating accident; if there is a complete loss of a boat; or if there is damage of $2,000 or more. In these situations, it’s important to ensure the accident is properly reported and to ask for a copy of the accident report.
Contact Our Team to Get the Compensation You Deserve
In the unfortunate event where you or a loved one is involved in a boating accident,
it’s it is important to have competent legal representation to assist in seeking recovery for the various forms of damages you may have suffered. The Saunders & Chabert team of skilled personal injury lawyers has many years of experience in handling recreational boating accidents and can help advise you about your rights and next steps.
Whether it’s filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit, in the appropriate venue, our team will help guide you through the process and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
To learn more, schedule a free consultation or call our team today at (225) 771-8100.