For many Californians, the best way to enjoy the great outdoors is on a boat, whether the vessel of choice is a sprawling, plush yacht or a humble, one-person kayak. There’s no shortage of boating options in California, but each comes with its own set of risks.
After a boating accident, you might wonder how you can get compensation for the costs of the injuries you suffered. Filing a lawsuit can help get you payment from the at-fault party’s insurance company, but since boating accidents take many forms, the type of lawsuit you file depends on the specifics of the incident.
Let’s review some of the most common types of boat accidents that lead to lawsuits.
Boating Accidents Caused by Other Boat Operators
Think of boating accidents caused by other boat operators the same way you’d think about car accidents. Any boat operator who is intoxicated, reckless, distracted, or improperly trained can be held liable if they cause someone else harm.
Just as in car accidents, you file a personal injury claim after a boat accident for the costs you face because of the boat operator’s negligence. Typically, the operator’s insurance company will cover your accident-related expenses, though don’t be surprised if the insurer offers you less than you deserve or denies your claim. If that happens, contact an attorney immediately for help.
Boating Accidents Caused by Defective Parts
Defective boats or boat parts can cause serious and potentially fatal injuries. If you’re injured by a faulty part, you can file a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the boat or the boat part.
The manufacturer has a legal responsibility to pay for damages caused by its defective parts, though manufacturers often deny liability (just remember the last time you tried to get something repaired or replaced under warranty, and you’ll have an idea of how hard this is!). Your attorney will be able to fight for a settlement on your behalf or, if needed, make your case in court.
Boating Accidents When You’re A Passenger
If you’re injured on someone else’s boat, many parties potentially bear legal responsibility for your injuries. If the accident is caused by the boat’s operator, they can be held liable for the costs you face. Or, if the accident is caused by a third party, you can file a lawsuit against them to recover your damages. Speaking to a lawyer can help sort out who might ultimately be responsible and how to get the money you need to pay your medical bills.
Cruise Ship Injuries or Illnesses
Boat-related lawsuits often stem from injuries and illnesses suffered on cruise ships. If you’re hurt on a cruise, you could file a claim against the company offering that cruise. These injuries often resemble premises liability claims in that you sue the company for injuries you sustained on their property.
However, cruise ship lawsuits are often more complex than typical premises liability claims. In many cases, the companies that operate cruise ships aren’t located in the U.S., and injuries on these ships usually happen offshore.
Yet another factor impacting your legal options is the fact that you likely consented to the cruise’s terms and conditions when you purchased your tickets. These contracts often contain language that constrains your ability to take legal action. If you’re injured on a cruise ship, an attorney who has experience with maritime law will help you determine the best path toward compensation.
Work-Related Boating Injuries
If someone who works on a boat is injured, they typically have rights to seek compensation. This is often accomplished through the Jones Act, a century-old regulation that provides injured maritime workers with a pathway to compensation, similar to a workers’ compensation program.
Why File a Boat Accident Lawsuit?
People file boating-related personal injury lawsuits to recover the costs of their injuries. This includes the direct medical costs (ambulatory care, initial treatment, hospitalization, ongoing care, etc.), lost income due to time missed at work or diminished work capacity, and pain and suffering caused by the accident. If someone causes damage to your boat in an accident, you can seek to recover those costs, too.
How to Find Out If You Have a Lawsuit
If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, you might not be sure whether you have a viable legal claim on your hands. The best way to determine whether you should move forward with a case (and who can be held legally responsible for your injuries) is to contact a boat accident attorney.
When you suffer a costly injury that wasn’t your fault, the chances are good you’ll have legal options available to get compensation for the injury-related costs you’ve encountered.
During this time of uncertainty, please know that we are here and ready to help.
If you’ve been injured, we can arrange a virtual meeting in order to start work on your case right away.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we want you to know we continue to be available and hard at work on your behalf. Although all of our offices are closed, we will remain open remotely to handle all ongoing and new cases and can be reached by phone, e-mail, teleconference and the contact form located on our website. We pledge to continue providing the same high level of service regardless of what happens in the coming weeks.