Boating incidents happen frequently, and in many cases, someone is negligent. Hold that person or company accountable by working with a lawyer to file a lawsuit or negotiate an adequate insurance payment. A boating accident lawyer can help you get justice and seek compensation for injuries or property damage.
What Is a Boating Accident Lawyer?
A boating accident lawyer is a personal injury lawyer who specializes in helping and representing victims of accidents that involve boats. This includes incidents with commercial vessels, like cruise ships, container ships, or ferries, and accidents involving recreational boats.
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What Does a Boating Accident Lawyer Do?
Lawyers who represent boating accident victims do several things to help their clients:
- Provide free consultations to review cases
- Provide legal advice
- Explain legal options after an accident
- Explain the laws involved and the victim’s rights
- Negotiate with insurance companies to get payment
- File lawsuits against the negligent parties in an accident
- Negotiate a settlement for the victim
- Take cases to trial for a jury verdict, if necessary
Common Types of Boating Accidents Lawyers Handle
Most lawyers who work with boat accident victims handle cases involving all kinds of incidents. These include recreational accidents involving smaller, personally-operated watercraft and commercial accidents. The latter affects commercial vessels, like ferries or fishing vessels.
Some of the types of accidents boating lawyers handle include:
- Personal craft accidents
- Accidents involving Jet Skis and similar small craft
- Yachting accidents
- Cruise ship accidents and passenger injuries
- Cruise ship assaults
- Ferry accidents
- Fishing accidents
- Injured crew members
- Parasailing accidents
- Boat fires
- Accidents and injuries on piers and in ports
- Accidents involving drugs or alcohol
- Overboard accidents
What to Do if You Are in a Boating Accident
If you are involved in an accident, it can be a scary and confusing time. It’s best to take precautions to avoid accidents, but not all incidents are preventable. If you find yourself in this situation, know what to do so you don’t have to figure it out on the spot.
Immediate Steps after a Boating Accident
If you are involved in a boating accident, the first thing to do is to deal with any injuries. If anyone is hurt, administer first aid, or call 911 if necessary. Once you have done this, follow these steps:
- Report the incident. Whether someone is hurt or not, you must report a boating accident. You can call the local authorities or call 911.
- Secure and document the scene. If you plan to take legal action or make an insurance claim, you will need as much information about the accident as possible. Secure the scene to avoid losing evidence before the authorities arrive. Then, if possible, take pictures.
- Exchange information. Regardless of how you decide to handle any damage or injuries later, you need information about anyone involved. Get names, phone numbers, addresses, and boating registration and insurance information. Get the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident but was not involved.
- File required reports. Find out which reports are needed in your state and complete them promptly.
Contacting a Lawyer
After reporting an accident and collecting information, contact a boating accident lawyer. You likely have expenses from the incident related to boat damage or injuries.
An insurance company might offer you a settlement once you provide all the information, but the compensation could be inadequate. Talking to a lawyer lets you determine if you are owed more and what you can do to get it.
Why Should I Call a Boating Accident Lawyer?
Boating accident lawyers are experts in maritime and boating laws and personal injury. They have both expertise and experience with boating accidents of all types. This is the primary reason you should contact the right kind of lawyer after an accident. No one else can provide the advice and guidance you need.
A Lawyer Improves Your Chances of Being Compensated
That experience will get you more compensation for your injuries or boat damage. If you must sue for negligence, a lawyer is essential to get a settlement or jury award. Furthermore, a lawyer understands all the types of compensation you might be eligible for and can maximize the total.
A Lawyer Can Deal with the Insurance Company
The insurance company will attempt to pay out as little as possible, but a lawyer can almost always successfully push for more. You can settle independently but get better results with a lawyer.
With a Lawyer, You Can Focus on Getting Better
If the incident caused injuries, your health and healing will be your top priorities. Dealing with insurers and legal issues is stressful and could even harm your health. A lawyer will do all the work for you and allow you the chance to rest, knowing your case is in good hands.
Lawyers Handle Maritime Work Cases
If you are a maritime worker, your case could be more complicated than a personal injury. Several maritime laws apply to people working at sea, in ports, and on offshore rigs. A lawyer can help you seek workers’ compensation or get benefits under laws like the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, and others that apply.
Who Is Liable in a Boating Accident?
Accidents can be complicated and confusing. Determining liability is not always straightforward, which is another reason you need an experienced lawyer on your side after an accident. This point is essential when it comes to filing a personal injury lawsuit.
In incidents with personal crafts, the other operator or owner of the boat is usually the liable party if their negligence caused the accident. For instance, they could be considered liable if they were operating while intoxicated or allowed an inexperienced boater to use the craft.
If you were injured on a commercial vessel, like a ferry or a charter fishing boat, the liable party might be the operator or the company that owns the vessel.
How Much Compensation Can I Get After a Boating Accident?
The amount of compensation you might get in a settlement or a trial depends on the unique factors of your situation. Even the best lawyers with experience handling boating cases cannot promise a specific amount. They will maximize your compensation but cannot make guarantees.
An experienced boating accident lawyer can make a fair estimate of what you can expect for a settlement based on several factors:
- The extent of any property damage
- The severity of injuries
- Current and future predicted medical bills
- Lost wages
- The degree of pain and suffering
- Emotional suffering
- Any resulting permanent disability
- The actions of the negligent party
How Do I Find a Boating Accident Lawyer Near Me?
A quick search in your area should turn up numerous law firms advertising services for boating accidents. They should be personal injury firms with demonstrable experience handling boating cases.
Make sure the firm offers free consultations. You should not have to pay to get some initial advice and guidance. They should also provide contingency payment plans, which means you pay nothing for their services until you receive a settlement or jury award.
Ask for examples of past cases the firm has won and testimonials from previous clients. If possible, get a recommendation from someone you trust who has been in a similar situation. If you don’t know anyone who has sued over boating accidents, talk to any lawyers you know with other specialties. They might be able to recommend a colleague.
Taking legal action after any accident has a time limit. Talk to a boating accident lawyer or law firm as soon as possible to be sure you don’t miss your opportunity to get justice and seek compensation.