The Most Important Things to Know After a Boating Accident

March 26, 2021

As temperatures warm up, more people are getting outside to enjoy nature, including area lakes. That’s especially true since recreational options are limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, every year thousands of people are injured or killed in boating accidents. This is due to a number of factors (although alcohol is the leading cause), so it’s important to work with boating accident lawyers in Santa Rosa, CA if you’re involved in an accident while boating.

Here are some of the most important things to know if you’ve been in a boating accident.

What are the most common causes of boating accidents?

There are plenty of boating accident causes. Some of the most common causes are operator inexperience or error, boating under the influence, speeding, failing to look out, waves and wakes, weather conditions and equipment failure. Although many people primarily think of boating as a recreational activity, it’s still a potentially dangerous one. Your boat operator owes you a duty to operate it responsibly, maintain their boat properly and follow all applicable laws.

Who can file a lawsuit and what kind of damages can be recovered?

Depending on the specific facts of your case, either the injured party or their surviving family may file a lawsuit after a boating accident. Negligence is the most common legal theory, which encompasses everything from wrongful death to products liability (such as equipment failure).

Your individual case will determine both the legal theory as well as who you sue. For example, there might be multiple people at fault, so you can sue one or all of them in your case. However, keep in mind that this may be difficult to prove: weather conditions and other forces of nature often contribute to boating accidents. Even if you believe the boat operator was at fault, the evidence may suggest waves and wakes, coral reefs and other natural occurrences contributed to or caused the accident.

Generally, if you prove your case, you can expect compensation for medical injuries, lost wages, property damage and other economic damages. In particularly egregious cases, you may be able to recover non-economic damages like pain and suffering or punitive damages.

If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, working with an attorney is key. It’s less common for boaters to have insurance, unlike motor vehicle drivers, so you’ll need to pursue your legal options. Your attorney will be able to evaluate your case and decide the best course of action—and if you’re unlikely to recover compensation, they’ll let you know.

When should I file my claim?

Always keep the California statutes of limitation in mind when you’ve been injured in an accident. Assuming it’s a state case, you have two years to file a lawsuit. If your case falls under federal maritime law, you’ll have up to three years to file.

To speak with boating accident lawyers in Santa Rosa, CA, get in touch with the Law Offices of Max G. Arnold, Inc. today. We’d be glad to schedule a consultation to discuss the particulars of your case.

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