Injured in a Recreational Boating Accident

Personal Injury Lawyer

Recreational boating accidents happen more often than many people realize. The U.S. Coast Guard reports more than 4,000 boat accidents each year, resulting in about 600 deaths and injuries to another 2,500 victims. The most common reasons why boat accidents occur include boating under the influence (BUI), operator inattention, inexperience of the operator, and speeding.

Each accident has its own set of circumstances that will determine who the at-fault party or parties are and who a boat accident lawyer will file a personal injury claim on behalf of injured victims against. In many accidents, it is typically the boat operator who was negligent or behaved in some way that caused the accident. Other possible responsible parties could also be the boat owner, the company that manufactured the boat (if it was some type of design or production defect on the boat that caused the accident), or another third party, such as a boat rental company.

What Is the Definition of a Recreational Boat?

There are a variety of vessels that are classified as recreational boats. These include:

  • Airboats
  • Cabin cruisers
  • Canoes
  • Center console runabouts
  • Go-Fast boats
  • Inflatable and semi-rigid inflatable boats
  • Kayaks
  • Paddleboards
  • Personal watercrafts, such as jet skis, and wave runners
  • Pontoons
  • Sailboats
  • Tenders
  • Yachts

What Law Covers Recreational Boat Accidents?

Boating accidents could fall either under state tort law or federal maritime law. If the accident occurred on a navigable waterway, then the accident falls under the jurisdiction of federal maritime law. Navigable waterways are defined as:

“Those waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and/or are presently used, or have been used in the past, or may be susceptible for use to transport interstate or foreign commerce.”

If it is determined that the accident did not occur on navigable waterways, then the accident would be covered under state law. If the accident claim cannot be settled through negotiations and a lawsuit will be filed, your boating accident lawyer will file the suit in the civil court per the rules of the state the accident occurred in.

What Should I Do If I Have Been Injured in a Recreational Boating Accident?

Once you have received medical treatment for your injuries, you will want to contact a lawyer to discuss the details of your case. These types of accident claims can be complex and it will likely be in your best interest to retain the services of an experienced boat accident lawyer who thoroughly understands maritime law, as well as state tort law. You also want a lawyer who has experience in litigating accident cases in the event a fair and reasonable settlement cannot be reached for your accident claim.

Damages your lawyer can pursue on your behalf include medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, scarring, emotional anguish, and permanent disability.


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