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Pleasure Boating – Accidents

In recent years, pleasure boating has become an increasingly popular pastime for many Americans.  Statistics show that over 85 million Americans, or around a quarter of the American population, use boats for recreation.  Statistics also show almost 16 million recreational boats are in use in the United States.

Unfortunately, many serious personal injuries and deaths occur while boaters are out on their fishing or skiing boats, sailboats, yachts and jet skis. In fact, The United States Coast Guard has published reports which show that from 2013 to 2014 deaths increased from 560 to 610, a 9% increase, and the total number of accidents also increased. In 2016, the Coast Guard recorded 4,463 accidents that involved 701 deaths, 2,903 injuries and approximately $49 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. These accidents obviously occur on many of the area lakes, rivers and in the bays.

The statistics are chilling – recreational boating accidents are clearly on the rise.  What is more, often people who are injured in these boating accidents are injured due to another person’s mistakes.  As a consequence, litigation over pleasure boating accidents is becoming increasingly common.  There is a distinct possibility that avid pleasure boaters may someday be involved in a serious accident and find themselves needing to file a pleasure boating lawsuit.

The law governing these boating accidents is often complex and falls in different jurisdictions. The accident may be governed by state law or one of the specific federal statutes, or even fall within some local rules.  The determination as to what law governs is complex and depends partially on where the accident occurred, as well as specifics about what the accident involved, what the boat was doing at the time of the accident, and how the accident occurred.  In fact, the determination of what law governs is a central issue in many pleasure boating cases and consumes much time in our typical pleasure boating cases.

After a determination is made as to what law governs, pleasure boating accident victims must then prove that their particular accident allows for the recovery of damage awards according to whatever laws are applicable.  Such a determination requires an in-depth knowledge of the governing law, an in-depth knowledge of court procedure, a first-rate investigation of the facts surrounding the case, a detailed investigation of the victim’s injuries and damages, and the ability to express these findings to a court in such a credible way to convince a judge or jury to award the maximum damage amounts.

Pleasure boaters must navigate a legal minefield in order to secure recovery.  Those pleasure boaters who are not prepared for the challenges they will face all too often either lose their cases and get no compensation, or wind up being awarded (or settling their cases for) a pittance of perhaps a few hundred dollars.  This is particularly true when injured pleasure boaters attempt to prosecute their cases by themselves, even when the facts surrounding their cases strongly support compensation.  All too often, these victims find out too late that they have been “penny wise and pound foolish” – they may have thought that they could avoid paying attorney’s fees by representing themselves, but they then find out too late that they are unprepared for the realities of litigation and wind up losing thousands upon thousands of dollars.

It is therefore vital that an injured boater, passenger or the family of one killed in a boating accident immediately contact an experienced Maritime lawyer. The several hours after an accident are not only a highly critical time for emergency medical care for the injured, but also a critical time to investigate the cause of the accident and for the well trained Maritime lawyer to gather critical evidence that may be lost if time passes.

The lawyers at The Ferrell Maritime and Mesothelioma Law Group have handled many boating accidents and are very well versed in the actions which must be quickly taken to protect the injured victim, or in the worst situations, the families of the deceased. We know how to effectively interface with investigators from the Coast Guard, the NTSB, local, county and state police, as well as the numerous news agencies to make sure those injured by the negligence of a pleasure craft operator are brought to justice. It is not enough for an injured party or a family to just wait to see what the investigators for the government find. Victims have substantial rights under each of the laws governing boating accidents and the well informed victim is one who has his or her lawyer involved from the very beginning.

 

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