Boating can be a great recreational activity. For many, it is also a way of making a living. There is nothing better on a sunny day than feeling the breeze on your face as you glide through the blue water. Perhaps you enjoy fishing, slow cruising, jet-skiing or wake-boarding. Whatever your favorite activity, boating sports are a great source of joy and excitement.
But as with all modes of transportation, boating comes with inherent risks and dangers. Unfortunately, the mixture of alcohol and boating, along with faster water-craft in crowded waters has led to an increase in boat accidents and injuries.
Boating accidents and injuries can take many different forms. It could be as simple as causing property damage to another boat. It could also be more serious in nature, causing bodily harm or even death to a boat operator, passenger, or swimmer. Common accidents include people being thrown from the boat accidentally, slipping and falling within the boat, or being injured while entering or exiting the boat. Many times when a boat accident or injury occurs, a victim can seek compensation through insurance claims or the legal system. Boating accidents can happen with all forms of watercraft. Accidents can also happen in any type of water sport like tubing, water skiing, para-sailing, or commercial fishing. In all cases, parties involved should contact lawyers experienced in litigating cases for boat accidents and injuries.
Boat Accident And Injury Laws
If you are involved in a boat accident that resulted in injury, the first step is to familiarize yourself with the Washington state boating laws. All states publish their boating laws for the public and various agencies enforce compliance. All boating laws in the US are based upon common “rules of the road” for boat and ship safety. Washington State requires anybody younger than 50 years old operating a boat to have a boat safety card. This card proves they attended a course on boat safety or passed an equivalent knowledge exam.
What to Do After a Boating Accident:
- Contact emergency personnel and seek medical help immediately
- Take photos of the injury, the boats involved, and the location of the accident
- Get contact information for all parties involved and all witnesses
- Take detailed notes of what you remember
- Do not speak to a representative from an insurance company without first consulting a boat accident attorney
- Provide the insurance adjusters only your basic contact information
- Do not allow the insurance representative to meet you at your home or place of business
- Do not sign any papers or make recorded statements without contacting a lawyer first
- Do not share photos from the accident online or with the insurance companies
- Call an attorney that specializes in motor boat accidents and injuries
Boat Accidents And Injuries Claim Process / Case Timeline
First, your boating accident attorney will compile all evidence and estimate the total possible value of your case. This includes gathering and reviewing all medical bills and property damage. Then, with your permission, they will seek to ‘settle’ with the other party or their representative. If both parties can come to a mutual agreement, then the case will end and the award amounts will be paid. If an agreement cannot be made, then your lawyer will file a lawsuit against the accused party and their insurance company. It will enter the criminal justice system and be decided by a judge or a jury. You may have to testify and provide depositions. The judge or jury will weigh all of the evidence and then decide upon a fair award. Settlements out of court are usually in the best interest of both parties. Trials are expensive and take a lot of preparation, without a guarantee of compensation.
Preventing Boat Accidents and Injuries
Accidents happen, but practicing safe boating can help to prevent them. Here are some tips to prevent boating accidents:
- Attend a boating safety class before operating a boat
- Remain sober both while driving, riding in, or swiming by a boat
- Maintain the boat with regular checkups of equipment
- Make sure safety equipment is on board including a life vest, first aid kit, beacon, radio, etc.
- Avoid boating in foul weather and low visibility conditions
- Follow all speed limits, signs, and rules
- Be aware of your surroundings – don’t blare music and take your eyes off the direction you are driving
- Wear a life vest at all times when on the boat
- Use a spotter for water skiing and water-tubing
- Wear bright colors when swimming or doing water sports
- Watch children carefully
- Be respectful of other boaters and swimmers