Boat Accident Lawsuit Loans
If you or a family member has been seriously injured or killed in a boating accident, you’re currently involved in a drawn-out legal fight, have retained a contingent-fee attorney, have strong liability against a sufficiently insured defendant and you’re in a financial bind because it’s taking forever to settle your case but you could really use some of your future settlement money now, we can help you.
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Although boating accidents don’t occur as often as motor vehicle accidents, the still leave severe injuries on the victims and are not any less severe.
Most boating accidents occur due to another party’s negligence or failure to act with reasonable care. However, if an individual suffered injuries from a vessel accident and would like to file a claim for compensation, the victim must first prove that the other party was negligent, and that the very act of negligence contributed to the accident.
Victims or families of victims can file a civil lawsuit – under personal injury lawsuits — against the other party to fight for the compensation they deserve, which may include: medical expenses, lost income, lost opportunities, property repairs, and physical and psychological pain.
Several factors can lead to a boating accident, which the United States Coast Guard classifies into three categories: (1) operational error, (2) hull, equipment, or machinery failure, and (3) environment.
Here are a few statistics on boating accidents:
- In 2004, California had a reported 900,000 registered vessels, having $4 million in property damage. Not only that, but they also had 439 injuries and 44 fatalities the same year.
- In 2006, there were 51 injuries and 12 fatalities from carbon monoxide poisoning, as reported by the United States Coast Guard.
- Reports from the United States Coast Guard show that in 2007, a total of 5,191 boating accidents occurred. 685 people were killed, in addition to 3,673 injured individuals.
- In 2009, the United States Coast Guard reported that 86 percent of boating accidents that year happened on vessels where the operator did not have any formal training on boating safety instructions.
- Also in 2009, there were 736 deaths, 3,358 injuries, an estimated $36 million in property damage out of the 4,730 recreational boating accidents, according to data from the United States Coast Guard.
Background: Boating Accidents
Boating accidents can happen more often than people think. In 2004 alone, the state of California had 900,000 registered vessels, while it had $4 million worth of property damage caused by boating accidents. The same year, California had a reported 439 injuries and 44 fatalities.
In addition, based on a report made by the United States Coast Guard, there were a total of 5,191 boating accidents in 2007. Of this number, 685 people were killed, while 3,673 were left injured.
In 2009, the United Sates Coast Guard reported statistics of 736 deaths, 3,358 injuries, and an estimated $36 million in property damage, which are all part of the 4,730 recreational boating accidents in 2009.
Boating accidents are covered by the maritime law when they occur on the high seas, including pleasure boats, cruise ships, and jet skis. Furthermore, personal injuries like slip and fall, swimming accidents, collisions at sea or at the port, or a defective equipment occurrence are also covered by the same law.
Wikipedia describes maritime law as:
“Admiralty law or maritime law is a distinct body of law that governs maritime questions and offenses. It is a body of both domestic law governing maritime activities, and private international law governing the relationships between private entities that operate vessels on the oceans. It deals with matters including marine commerce, marine navigation, marine salvaging, shipping, sailors, and the transportation of passengers and goods by sea. Admiralty law also covers many commercial activities, although land based or occurring wholly on land, that are maritime in character.”
Most often, accidents of this nature are because of negligence on another party’s end. In cases where boating accidents occur due to another party’s negligence or carelessness, people who have been injured may be eligible to receive compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, as well as a number of other damages.
There are several various factors that can lead to a boat accident. The United States Coast guard notes that most accidents like these fall into three major categories: (1) operator error, (2) hull or equipment failure, and (3) environment.
Of the three categories, operator error has become one of leading cause of boat accidents. Common mistakes include: inattention, lack of training in boat operation and safety, inexperience, violating Navigation Rules and Regulations, improper loading of gear and passengers, and alcohol or drug use.
In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that among the 2009 boating accidents, 86 percent happened on vessels where the operator did not have formal boating safety instructions.
In cases of operator error in boating accidents, plaintiffs have a greater likelihood of receiving compensation if a citation had been issued at the scene of the accident. When the party at fault has been found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs whilst operating the vessel, the party not only acted negligently, but has also committed a criminal offense.
He or she can then be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor DWI charge under the criminal court. When a victim or the victim’s family sues against the negligent party in a civil lawsuit, the civil trial is processed independently from a criminal trial (if such case is present like in the aforementioned instance), and can thereby have different outcomes.
One example of operator error is a case reported by PR Newswire: An 11-year-old boy (at the time) and his father suffered severe brain damage and skull fractures after being struck by the charter boat’s 46-foot dive boat’s propellers after getting into the water at the Florida Keys Dive Center in August 2011.
Both the father and son had to undergo emergency surgeries – craniotomies, as per court records – eventually removing part of their skulls. The family filed a federal lawsuit, however the company behind the charter boat decided to settle the lawsuit for $12 million.
Hull, Equipment or Machinery Failure
There are also instances of boating accidents due to hull (the boat’s body), equipment, or machinery failure. Boat equipment includes masts, rigging, seats, fire extinguishers, lights, communication systems and other equipment.
On the other hand, the vessel’s engine, electrical system, fuel system, ventilation system, and steering system, among many others are considered machinery.
Failure in any one of these vessel components can led to negligence on the part of:
- The owner or operator for lack of maintenance on the boat;
- The technician or boat repair facility for failure to perform quality maintenance; or
- The manufacturer for designing, manufacturing and/or installing sub-standard machinery or a defective piece of equipment on the vessel.
If a flaw in design, manufacturing or installation is proven, a strict liability law may apply to the lawsuit. These types of cases typically result in class action lawsuits, which include large settlements.
Therefore, proving the presence of negligence may not be required, simply because the mere fact that the component is defective and caused harm is enough to hold the manufacturer liable for the accident.
Furthermore, it is important to obtain one’s vessel when a design, manufacturing or installation defect was a factor to the accident. This can serve as evidence in a trial if needed.
There are also times when boating accidents occur due to environmental conditions like congested waters, presence of a dam or lock, presence of big waves or wakes, hazardous waters, or bad weather.
There are instances wherein these kinds of situations are aggravated because of another party’s negligence. In fact, government negligence can even be present when environmental conditions have contributed to accidents of this nature.
Furthermore, there are specific rules and time limits for filing claims in boating accidents with government agencies, which also depend on location and governing laws.
For victims of boating accidents while on-the-job, please refer to the Maritime (Jones Act) page.
Negligence, Compensation and Injuries
People who have sustained injuries or property damage as a result of a boating accident are eligible to receive compensation through a court award, if an insurance company is not present.
Furthermore, it must be proved that the victim’s injury is a result of another party’s negligence or failure to act with reasonable care. If this is not proven, the victim is not eligible to recover for damages.
Compensation from an accident such as this can help victims pay for medical expenses, lost income, physical and psychological pain, lost prospects and property repairs, which have been caused by the accident.
Amount for compensation that a victim is entitled to is typically determined by juries and/or insurance companies, who are guided by preset guidelines and who take into account the gravity of the injuries sustained on the victims.
However, before this compensation can be awarded, the injured or damaged party must first establish proof that another party’s negligence or failure to act on responsible conduct is liable for the accident.
In order to prove that such negligence exists, victims of boating accidents can present evidence in the form of an eyewitness testimony, law enforcement reports, and photographs of the accident scene.
Given this evidence, it must further prove that: (1) the boating accident was caused by carelessness or negligence, (2) the victim was harmed because of the accident, and (3) the negligent party is responsible for providing compensation.
One of the best persuasive forms of evidence is a testimony from an eyewitness, which can prove that negligence was present and that it had caused the boating accident.
To prove any harm done onto the victim, the injury must obviously be connected with the boat accident. These injuries may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Abrasions, contusions, or lacerations
- Spinal cord injuries
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Broken bones
- Brain injury
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Boaters and swimmers are more often poisoned with carbon monoxide than most people deem. According to the United States Coast Guard, 12 people died while 51 others were injured from carbon monoxide exposure in 2006.
As per Wikipedia:
“Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs after enough inhalation of carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas, but, being colorless, odorless, tasteless, and initially non-irritating, it is very difficult for people to detect. Carbon monoxide is a product of incomplete combustion of organic matter due to insufficient oxygen supply to enable complete oxidation to carbon dioxide (CO2). It is often produced in domestic or industrial settings by motor vehicles that run on gasoline, diesel, methane, or other carbon-based fuels and from tools, gas heaters, and cooking equipment that are powered by carbon-based fuels such as propane, butane, and charcoal. Exposure at 100 ppm or greater can be dangerous to human health.”
What makes carbon monoxide poisoning extremely dangerous is that it can obstruct the blood’s ability to provide oxygen throughout the body. In addition, it has early symptoms — such as eye irritation, headache, nausea, weakness, and dizziness – that can easily be mistaken for seasickness, intoxication, or heat exhaustion, which most people typically ignore until it is too late for medical therapies to intervene.
Boating equipment like stoves, heaters, generators, and even the boat’s engine emits carbon monoxide – which can lead to quick poisoning in individuals at any point in time, especially in cases when the boat lacks proper ventilation or when people swim near the boat exhaust.
Filing a Boating Accident Lawsuit
In order to present a better case of negligence on the liable party’s end and successfully win a civil lawsuit, the victim must:
- File a Boating Accident Report (BAR) with the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the location of the accident. Federal regulations require that the filing of a BAR should be done within 48 hours from the time the victim dies, disappears from the vessel, or has been seriously injured. Furthermore, a BAR must be filled within 10 days when a damaged vessel exceeds costs worth $2,000 or if the vessel is lost. Other regulations depend per state.
- Obtain the names and contact information of eyewitnesses of the accident who could potentially testify in the victim’s behalf.
- Photographs or sketch of the scene of the accident, more so of any damages done onto the boat/s involved in the accident.
- Photographs of injuries that resulted from the accident.
- Notes on any important details and whatever else the victim can recall regarding the accident.
In cases where more than one party is at fault or deemed negligent, the liability is divided between the negligent parties in accordance with comparative negligence.
Although compensation with regard to boating accidents are typically covered by insurance companies, victims are unable to receive the compensation they deserve in several cases, which is why it is important to secure an attorney especially if the victim or the victim’s family plans to file a civil lawsuit.
Instances wherein victims are unable to receive their compensation include:
- Expenses with regard to the vessel accident were not reimbursed. Victims should be fully compensated for damages in property, psychological pain, lost opportunities, lost income, and medical expenses.
- The insurance company is taking an excessive amount of time to settle the claim. Victims must take note of the state’s statute of limitations on personal injury claims such as this.
- A claim was rejected because the insurance company denies that the negligible party is at fault or is liable for the accident.
- The negligent party does not have insurance.
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