Your Rights After a Boat Accident

by Katie Hewatt on September 21, 2012

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were over 4,500 recreational boating accidents in 2011. These accidents resulted in thousands of physical injuries, hundreds of deaths, and over $50 million dollars in damages to people and property. Boating accidents, like car accidents, are often a result of negligence on the part of the vehicle operators, and just like any kind of accident, boaters have rights.

Boating accidents can be litigated to recoup losses. As long as the plaintiff can prove the accident happened, and that they were injured, and that the injury was as a result of negligence on the part of the defendant, they can be made whole with a successful personal injury tort. What kinds of damages can you recover from a boating accident?

Types of Losses

Like any other civil case, a boating accident that results in property or physical damage may be recoverable through compensatory damages. Physical damages include losses resulting from physical injury, including medical costs, pain and suffering, loss of employment income, loss of companionship, and any other losses that occur due to the physical injury sustained in the boating accident.

In addition, to physical damages, you can also recover property damages, such as damage to the boat itself. The amount of damages should be in the range that the victim will be made whole, meaning that they will be returned to a pre-accident financial condition.

If the negligence on the part of the defendant is egregious, the plaintiff may be eligible for punitive damages. Punitive, or exemplary damages, are designed to teach the defendant a lesson, and make an example of their bad behavior. If a defendant is intoxicated, and that is the cause of the accident, you might be eligible for punitive damages. If the defendant is just a horrible boat operator, that would probably not qualify. The behavior leading to the accident has to be considered wanton or willful to a judge or jury in order to succeed in a punitive damages claim.

Specialty Lawyers

What kind of a lawyer do you need to file your personal injury claim? Do you need a lawyer that is experienced in boating accidents, and is it okay to talk with the defendant’s insurance company? According to our Charleston auto accident lawyer, most experienced personal injury attorneys are more than capable of handling boating accidents. If there are complicated issues involved, you might be better served by an attorney that has seen that kind of case before, but for relatively simple cases, any qualified, experienced personal injury attorney can help.

Consulting with an attorney is the most effective way to understand your claim. The legal system is complicated, and trusting insurance companies to look out for you is not the best idea. You should never give information in the form of a statement to an insurance company until your case has been reviewed with an attorney. It is always preferable that any statements you make be in a formal legal format under the guidance of your lawyer. The bottom line in any accident, talk to a lawyer first. The only way you are guaranteed to get a fair shake in the legal system is with a trained personal injury attorney next to you.

Katie Hewatt is a contributing author for Charleston auto accident lawyer Howell & Christmas, who specialize in boat and water accident cases. Boat accidents involve complex laws that require an experienced attorney; therefore, boat accident victims should contact Howell & Christmas for a free consultation on their case.

Katie Hewatt

Katie Hewatt

Katie Hewatt

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