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Boating Accidents

Boating Accidents

Millions of people every year enjoy boating, jet skiing, and other forms of watercraft. Unfortunately, one wrong move can lead to a motor boat accident. Depending on the conditions and severity of the accident, a motor boat injury could be sustained as a result. Boating accidents result from inexperience, intoxication, equipment failure, poor weather conditions, and simple driver error. The law requires boat operators to exercise a great deal of care and caution when out on the water. When failure to do so leads to injury or wrongful death, they can be held responsible for the aftermath.

Some of the most common types of Utah boating accidents include:
• Drug and alcohol accidents
• Wakeboarding, tubing, or waterskiing accidents
• Parasailing accidents
• Boat collisions
• Commercial fishing boat accidents

Boat accident lawyers can help with all these cases. If you’ve been injured as the result of a boating accident, you may deserve compensation for your compromised health. Almost any Utah boat accident lawyer will tell a client that it is far better to aim for a settlement than a trial. Trials are expensive, lengthy, and have uncertain outcomes. While you may not get as high of compensation through a settlement as you would have in a trial, the money will come quicker, and the risk will be removed. Because every boating accident is unique, it’s difficult to pinpoint how much money you can settle for. There are two ways to go about arriving at a settlement. The first is to negotiate directly with the person at fault or their insurance company. If the circumstances of the accident are fairly straightforward and show the driver was in neglect, the insurance company will be eager to settle the case. The wiser choice is to seek the advice of a boat accident attorney before moving forward with settlement negotiations. A Utah motor boat injury attorney with experience and expertise in the field will be able to evaluate the case and determine if the potential is there for greater compensation. The boat accident lawyer will be able to argue on your behalf and likely raise the settlement amount.

Legal Fees

Most boat accident attorneys structure their fees on a contingency basis. In other words, their fee comes from the eventual settlement or award. It costs nothing out of pocket for the client. Many of these attorneys will also waive their initial consultation fee, meaning it costs nothing for you to bring your case to them. Seek the advice of at least two or three lawyers before you decide to seek your settlement directly. If you have a strong connection with an attorney during your meeting, hire them. Let them deal with the stressful process.


Should your case prove successful, the opposing party may be required to compensate you in several arenas. Here are the most common areas of compensation:

• Medical Bills: Getting treatment after a boating accident can be expensive. Even if you’re properly insured, deductibles and coverage limits could force you to spend much of your own money. Every year, thousands of people are forced to declare bankruptcy from hospital bills alone. Compensation can be used to cover these medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and other expenses related to treatment. If you’ve been injured in a boat accident, these costs may be exorbitant.

• Lost Income: If the boating accident has left you unable to perform your job duties or forced you to take time off from work, the opposing party may have to compensate you for lost income. If a doctor can attest that your injuries are directly responsible for the missed work, it may be incumbent upon the defendant to pay for the lost time. If the accident left you permanently disabled, the compensation may have to be great enough to cover future lost wages as well. This takes away the financial stress of having to miss work.

• Pain and Suffering: Many states have done away with punitive damages in these personal injury cases, but pain and suffering can still be a factor when a jury considers their verdict. A traumatic boating accident could lead not just too physical pain but to emotional anguish as well. Professional therapy is sometimes needed to find ways to cope with this mental pain. Compensation can be used to pay for this treatment.

Claim Process

To successfully bring a boating accident case to fruition, there are some steps you should follow. The first step is to file a boating accident report with the correct law enforcement body. The faster you can get a legal record of the incident in the system; the better off you’ll be when it comes time to talk compensation. Next, gather as many names and phone numbers of witnesses that you can. Take photographs of the accident, your injuries, and any property damage that occurred as the result of the boat crash. Seek medical attention for your injuries. This may be the first step if your injuries are severe. Always worry about your health first. Lastly, take copious notes about what you remember. Memories are unreliable and can change over time. If you have notes to look back on, it will prevent you from misremembering later. Boat accidents come in all stripes, sizes, and types. Whether you’ve been injured at sea or simply want to keep yourself abreast of the hazards, it can be instructive to know something about common forms of boat injury.

The three primary boat accident categories are those that occur due to:
• An error on the driver’s part
• Equipment failure
• Environmental factors
Of the three, operator error accounts for the biggest slice of the pie. Boating injuries can result from incompetence, inexperience, alcohol and drugs, rule violations, and other forms of negligence. It is also worth noting that not all accidents have a single point of blame. In many cases, two or more factors may come into play. If this is the case in your accident, don’t let that stop you from seeking compensation. A good boat accident attorney can make a case for you even if you share in some of the blame. Leave it to a judge, jury, or impartial panel to decide who most at fault in the accident was.

Prevent Boat Accidents: Follow Boating Safety Guidelines

Boating should be a fun and safe experience for everyone. Here are some standard guidelines to further prevent boating accidents:
• Remain Sober: By consuming drugs or alcohol while boating, you significantly increase your chances of being involved in a boat accident. Statistically 35% of boating accidents that resulted in a fatality involved drugs and/or alcohol, and 20% of all boating accidents have reported to involve drugs or alcohol.
• Regularly maintain and safety equipment: Standard boating safety equipment includes life jackets, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, lights, flotation devices, an anchor, and emergency supplies.
• Learn standard boating safety: Regularly check exhaust. Carbon monoxide exposure is deadly and can lead to a boating accident. Maintain and test carbon monoxide detectors on each voyage. Regularly inspect your boat for damage, cracks, or leaks.
• Make necessary safety preparations: Always tell someone where you are going if you are leaving on a boat trip. Do not overload your boat because excessive weight can affect the boats performance and potentially cause a boating accident. Follow proper boat launching etiquette to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
• Wear a life jacket: In almost all fatal boating accidents, the victim was not wearing their life jacket. If you become injured and are unable to swim a life jacket can save your life.
• Follow standard navigation and boating rules: This can help avoid accidents with other boats or boating accidents involving stationary objects such as buoys, rocks, ramps, etc.
• Stay Observant: Keeping a watchful eye can help avoid boat accidents and keep you and your passengers safe from injury. Weather and water conditions and the locations of other boats must be paid attention to at all time, negligence of these things are often responsible for boat accidents.

Boat Accidents and Injuries: Laws

Boating laws vary from Utah to the east coast, but there are some general rules regarding negligence that tend to stay somewhat uniform. Before you purchase or rent any watercraft, know the law for your safety and the safety of others. If you’ve been injured as the result of someone else’s negligence, the law states that you have the right to seek reasonable compensation. In a case like this, evidence should point to carelessness or malicious intent on the part of the driver at fault. In order to reach an agreeable settlement, the plaintiff must show that monetary damages occurred as the result of the accident. With the assistance of a good boating accident lawyer, you can fight for your rightful compensation.

Reporting and Documenting

Federal law requires that if you have been involved in a boating accident which resulted in an injury or damage exceeding 2,000 dollars that you must file a report with your state boating authority and local law enforcement. Here are the precise requirements to report a boating accident within 48 hrs:

If a person dies due to the boat accident
• Any person needs medical attention outside of standard first aid
• A person has disappeared as a result of the boat accident
If no one was harmed during your boat accident, you are required to file a boating accident report within 10 days if there is damage to the involved boats or someone’s property.

Common Types of Boating Accidents

• Commercial Boating Accidents: When you make your living on the water, every day presents unique dangers. Careless operations, equipment failures, and deck fires are just a few of the ways in which seamen can suffer life-changing injuries. Whether you work on a tanker, barge, tugboat, or any other commercial vessel, a serious injury can keep you laid up and out of work for a long time.

• Jet Ski Accidents: Jet skis and other personal watercraft can be fun and exhilarating. But a combination of speed, water conditions, and a lack of experience or instruction can lead to tragic consequences. So too can operating such craft under the influence of alcohol or drugs or while disregarding basic safety rules. Being so close to the surface and fully exposed with minimal if any protective gear, Jet Ski operators are particularly vulnerable to serious injuries or death.

• Yacht Accidents: Money may be able to buy you a beautiful yacht, but it doesn’t necessarily buy owners or operators of yachts the proper training and experience to safely operate such large and hard to maneuver vessels. This, along with many other factors such as speeding, ignoring safety rules, failing to maintain the vessel, and failing to follow navigational rules, can lead to injuries to passengers as well as those on other boats. No matter the cause or nature of injuries caused in a yacht accident, a good lawyer can help victims of boater negligence get compensation for their injuries.

• Shrimping and Fishing Boat Accidents: Boat owners owe their crewmen a duty to provide a safe working environment, which includes maintaining and operating the boat properly. If fishing or shrimping boat crewman is injured through negligence or unseaworthiness, he may claim damages for lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and medical expenses.

• Pontoon Boat Accidents: Among the types of boating accidents to consider, one type relates to pontoon boats. Pontoon boats are perfect for a relaxing afternoon on the water, but the fact that they aren’t built for speed like other types of boats doesn’t mean they are free from danger. In fact, passengers on pontoon boats may be even more at risk for injuries. More people die in pontoon boat accidents every year than in Jet Ski accidents, for example. That can be due to conduct such as “bow riding,” or sitting outside railings on the edge of the boat, dangling feet over the side. This can lead to drowning, propeller accidents, and run-over accidents. Poor training, alcohol use, and failure to follow safety rules can all contribute to pontoon boat injuries or deaths. Operators of the boat as well as concessionaires who rent pontoon boats can be held accountable for their negligence.

• Marina and Dock Accidents: Not all boating accidents happen away from shore. Dockworkers, longshoremen, and others who work or are present on marinas or docks can be injured when boats or other equipment are operated or maintained negligently. Workers may have remedies under the Jones Act and other federal law, and we have the experience and knowledge of dock operations to effectively obtain compensation for our injured clients.

• Party Boat Accidents: It’s no surprise that alcohol can be the culprit in many party boat accidents, whether it is an intoxicated operator who causes a collision, or a drunk passenger who falls overboard. But other factors may lead to serious injuries as well, and when those injuries are the result of negligence on the part of the owner, operator, or others responsible for the boat, we fight to hold those parties responsible.

• Waterskiing and Towing Accidents: Being pulled behind a boat at high speed can result in horrific injuries when vulnerable and unprotected individuals crash into the water, other boats, or other objects such as docks and wharfs. If the driver of the boat acts recklessly or in violation of safety rules, they can be held accountable for the injuries they inflict on those who put their trust in them.

Types of Boating Injuries

This includes obtaining compensation for those injured in:
• Propeller Accidents – serious lacerations, dismemberment, and internal injuries are just a few of the impacts that the sharp, rapidly spinning blades of a propeller can inflict on those in the water as well as those on the boat.

• Run-over Accidents: Swimmers or passengers who fall overboard can suffer traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, disfigurement, and death when run-over by a boat.

• Overboard Accidents: When passengers or workers fall overboard, the impact can not only seriously injure them but can also render them unconscious. This, along with rough water conditions or an inability to swim, can lead to drowning.

• Drowning Accidents: Any time spent on a boat can lead to time spent in the water unexpectedly. Dangerous conditions, lack of life jackets or ability to swim, and injuries which interfere with a person’s ability to stay above water can cause drowning accidents.

• Slip and Falls on a Vessel: As do owners of property on land, boat owners and operators must keep their decks and other surfaces free from slip and fall dangers which can lead to serious injury.

• Crew Member Accidents: The nature of the work and equipment used on commercial vessels present constant dangers to crew members.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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