LIABILITY FOR ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES ON THE WATER
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Whether enjoying a day on the lake or working on a boat, many people spend time on or around the water, which while rewarding, may also be dangerous. An accident can quickly turn a fun day of water skiing or a routine day at work on a commercial fishing boat into a life-threatening situation.
If you or a loved one has been injured or died in an accident on the water, you should contact an experienced boating or water accident lawyer from Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation. We may help you determine who is liable for an accident on the water. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
THE DANGERS OF WATER
The CDC estimates that over 3,500 people a year die from unintentional drowning. However, injuries and deaths around water are not limited to drowning, as many also suffer from slip and fall injuries, electrocution, diving injuries, and boating accidents. Injuries on the water can occur in a variety of ways, whether from accidents on a boat, colliding with another boat, jet ski accidents, and many others.
Read More: Child Drowning Accidents
LIABILITY FOR ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES ON THE WATER
Determining liability for accidents and injuries on the water is dependent on a variety of factors, such as the nature of the accident, where it occurred and who was involved. In general, if the accident was caused by someone’s negligence, they may be liable.
Boat owners may be liable for accidents that occur on their boat or are caused by their boat. Boat owners must ensure that the craft is piloted properly, and just like normal drivers must obey the rules of the road, they must obey the rules of the water, such as not consuming alcohol or drugs while operating a boat and taking precautions to ensure an accident does not occur. The boat should be equipped with appropriate safety equipment, such as life jackets and railings. If the boat involved is operated by a commercial entity, such as a ferry or tour boat, they may be liable for accidents that occur, even if they require customers to sign waivers.
Commercial Boat Owners
Commercial entities that operate boats, ships, and offshore platforms have a responsibility to take the proper precautions to ensure that accidents do not occur, and employees are not injured. Proper safety equipment must be provided by the employer, and safety guidelines must be enforced. The employer also has a responsibility to ensure that all equipment is properly maintained. Employees should be properly trained to work safely and utilize safety equipment. Certain types of maritime workers, such as longshoremen and harbor workers, are covered by specific federal workers’ compensation. An experienced attorney may help you identify any statutes impacting your accident claim.
If another passenger on the boat acted negligently or recklessly, and this behavior either prevented the boat operator from meeting their duty of care, or this behavior directly caused the victim’s death, the other passenger may be liable for your injuries sustained.
Like most accidents, you must determine whether the accident may have been caused because of a defective product. If you were involved in a boating accident, the accident may have been caused because of a defect in the boat, whether it was a manufacturing or design defect.
To prove liability, four elements must generally be proven: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
Duty of Care
A duty of care is an obligation an individual has to others to behave in a certain way or take certain steps to ensure an accident does not occur. The operator of a ferry should have functional life jackets available for all passengers and crew in the event of an accident, for example. Meanwhile, other boat operators have a duty to avoid striking other boats in a collision.
Breach of Duty
If someone with a duty of care fails to take the proper precautions, they may have breached their duty of care. For example, if a ferry operator failed to provide an adequate number of live jackets for those aboard the ship, or the life jackets failed to function due to poor or improper storage and maintenance, the ferry operator likely may have breached their duty of care. Similarly, if a boat operator is operating a boat while drunk, or a boat owner allowed a teenager to borrow the boat despite no training on safely operating a boat and no adult supervision being present, your attorney may be able to prove the other party breached their duty of care toward you.
It must also be proven that the breach of duty was the proximate cause of the accident, meaning that if not for the negligent behavior of another, the accident may not have occurred. In the case of the earlier example, if passengers were forced to abandon the ferry, and a passenger drowned due to no life jacket being available, the lack of life jackets is the proximate cause, or causation, of this accident, because if a life jacket had been available, the passenger would likely not have drowned.
Even if the other party had a duty of care, breached this duty, and this breach of duty has been proven to have caused your accident, it must also be proven that the accident caused some kind of harm to the victim, such as physical injuries. In wrongful death cases, damages are usually assumed to exist, as the victim has died as a result of the accident.
HOW TO FILE A CLAIM
1. Consult an Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident on the water, you should contact an experienced water accident attorney as soon as possible. Proving liability can be a complex and difficult process in any personal injury claim, but injuries that happen on the water may make the process even more difficult, as the laws regarding these kinds of claims may differ from those that govern accidents on land. An attorney may be able to help you determine who may be liable for your injuries and help you seek any compensation you may be entitled to.
Once you have hired an attorney with experience handling claims for injuries suffered on the water, your lawyer may often begin by investigating the accident. During the investigation, your attorney may look into the nature of the accident and gather evidence that may provide support for your claim. Your lawyer may collect evidence to prove a party’s liability for your injuries on the water, including statements from witnesses, medical records and bills, and any other relevant documentation proving the extent of your injuries.
Once your attorney has thoroughly investigated your claim, they may then submit a settlement offer to the other party, or often their insurance company. The insurer will then choose whether to accept or deny the settlement offer and your claim. In most cases, the insurer may initially deny your demand, while instead countering your offer with a much lower settlement offer. Your attorney may then begin to negotiate with the insurer in an attempt to reach a settlement that is agreeable to both parties. Your lawyer may be able to use the evidence gathered during the investigation to help support your claim. If an amount can be agreed upon, a settlement may be reached, and a trial may not be necessary. In some cases, a mediator may be brought in to help facilitate negotiations. However, mediators will be unable to make binding decisions for either party like a judge may do in a trial.
If a settlement cannot be reached, your claim may go to trial. If your claim goes to trial, your attorney may represent you in the proceedings. During a trial, your attorney may be able to use the evidence gathered during the investigation to prove your case to the jury as to why the other party is liable for the accident on the water and you should therefore be entitled to compensation. The jury will decide if compensation is to be granted and the amount thereof.
Compensation for injuries on the water, and personal injury cases in general, may include various economic and non-economic damages suffered in an accident on the water.
1. Medical bills
You may be able to claim compensation for any medical expenses caused by the accident. These damages include any medical bills to treat your injuries, such as emergency room visits, ambulance trips, hospital stays, treatments, medications, or any physical therapy.
2. Loss of income
If you missed work due to injuries you sustained in the accident, you may be able to seek compensation for your income lost while you were recovering from your injuries.
3. Loss of potential income
If your injuries leave you no longer capable of performing your job duties for the foreseeable future, you may be able to seek compensation for your loss of future income. This type of compensation can be influenced by multiple factors, including age, general health before the accident, and your occupation.
1. Pain and suffering
You may be able to pursue compensation for the physical and emotional pain you may have suffered as a result of the accident. This type of compensation may depend upon the severity and circumstances of your injuries, as well as their impact on your quality of life.
2. Loss of companionship or loss of parental guidance
If you have lost a spouse due to an accident, you may be able to seek compensation for the loss of companionship caused by the loss of your spouse. Depending on your state, children who have lost a parent due to an accident may also be able to seek compensation for the loss of parental guidance in their life.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
There are legal time limits that create a time frame within which you must file any potential claim. These legal time limits, known as the statute of limitations, may prevent you from filing a lawsuit if the statute of limitations has expired. The statute of limitations varies from state to state and generally ranges from one to three years. However, the statute of limitations for most personal injury lawsuits, including for any injuries suffered on the water, is generally two years in most states.
CONSULT THE BOATING ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS AT ZINDA LAW GROUP TODAY
At Zinda Law Group, our boating accident lawyers may be able to help you if you or your loved one has been injured in an accident on the water. Our experienced water injuries attorneys have years of experience helping our clients seek the maximum compensation they may be entitled to after being injured while on the water.