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What To Do After A Boat Accident In California

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

Know Your Legal Options After Boat Accidents In California

To evaluate the scope of the claim, boating accident lawyers must consider several criteria. The afflicted party may incur high medical costs and a negative emotional impact, which may last long after medical treatment is completed.

Many people who are engaged in boating accidents lose time, opportunities, and earnings. While reviewing your claim, our Top Rated Personal Injury Attorneys In Los Angeles will consider these aspects.


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Frequently, the boat operator fails to maintain the boat properly, culminating in a boating accident in which others are gravely harmed.


While the boater may not want to cause harm, they must ensure that they are fully licensed and updated on all regulations and maintenance requirements for safe operation. Regular inspections and maintenance are required for motors and propellers. Failure to repair a ship owing to a lack of time or funds is not an acceptable justification to endanger life.


What Are The Most Common Causes Of Boating Accidents?


While boating can be a fun sport, there are several dangers to be aware of. Following all safety precautions, marine rules, and other restrictions is vital. In a boating accident, emergency response times are often substantially slower because fewer individuals are around who can respond immediately. The longer someone has to wait for care, the higher their chances of suffering a severe injury are.


A handful of the most prevalent ways someone can be hurt or killed while on the water are described below:

  • Accidents involving a boat capsizing due to damage, flooding, or swamping

  • Falling overboard the vessel causes injuries or catastrophes

  • Explosions or fires on the water

  • Collisions occur when two ships or boats collide.

  • Injury resulting from a boat's negligent operation, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

  • While swimming, skiing, or participating in water sports, being cut or maimed by a propeller

  • Collisions between boats and fixed things such as pylons, docks, or natural objects such as rocks or reefs

Accidents involving watercraft can result in the following categories of injuries:

  1. Drowning and near-drowning are both dangerous situations

  2. Injuries to the neck, back, and spinal cord, including paralysis

  3. Concussions

  4. Damage to the nerves or the nervous system

  5. Bones that have been fractured or shattered

  6. Ligaments torn

  7. Wrongful Death

  8. Burns

  9. Injuries caused by crushing

Liability or blame originating from a boating accident is typically founded on negligence, which occurs when someone (or a group of people) fails to uphold their duty of care in a given situation, resulting in your injury. For example, if your watercraft had a malfunction that caused your injuries, you could file a product liability case.


It's also crucial to remember that California is a comparative fault state, which means you can still recover even if you were partially to blame for the accident. Still, your overall financial recovery would be reduced by the amount you were found to be at fault for.

Personal Injury Claims in Boating Accidents in California

A boat and other personal watercraft, such as jet skis and wave runners, are classified "vehicles" under California law and must follow certain operating restrictions:

  1. Without proper registration (including the insertion of a "Hull Identification Number" (HIN) to demonstrate to whom the vessel belongs), no boat can be operated.

  2. Boats with a horsepower rating of 15 or above must be operated by someone at least 16 years old. Persons 12-15 may operate boats or personal watercraft with less than 15 horsepower if accompanied and supervised by an adult.

Operating a boat or personal watercraft in any of the following ways is illegal:

  • Maneuvers that are reckless or negligent. "Reckless boating" is illegal in the same way that "reckless driving" is unlawful in cars. Going too fast in violation of posted signage (including "no-wake zones"), "buzzing" another vehicle or coming too close with either the boat, personal watercraft, or any towed object, including water skiers, operating too closely to skiers, swimmers, or divers, riding on the bow or gunwales (gunnels), or otherwise operating in a way or at such a speed that causes a person to go overboard are examples of such maneuvers.

    • Furthermore, in California, operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is considered a DUI. If the DUI results in bodily injury to another person, it is termed an "enhancement" of the DUI offense, and the boat driver faces further sanctions. It is also illegal to operate a personal watercraft between sunset and sunrise (even if the PWC has lights).

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  • Inadequately maintaining a boat or personal watercraft. This can include operating with structural or mechanical defects that compromise a boat's or watercraft's safety, a lack of required life jackets, a lack of required fire extinguishers, backfire flame arrestors, and proper fuel fume ventilation, as well as fuel leakage or excessive water due to bilge issues.

    • Furthermore, all California watercraft must have sufficient nighttime navigation lights. This applies to both propelled and non-powered watercraft (like sailboats).

    • Depending on the activity, the distance traveled offshore, and Boaters may require other circumstances, flares, "diver down" signage, and other safety equipment. In addition, all PWCs must have ignition safety switches that turn off the engine if the rider is ejected.

  • Poor Mooring or Anchoring. Anchoring or mooring a boat in a way that obstructs navigation or contributes to an accident or other mishap can be illegal.

  • Towing a second vehicle or a skier. A life jacket is required for anyone hauled on water skis, wakeboards, inflatables, or similar devices. In California, it is unlawful to ski or pulls someone after sunset (between sunrise and sunset).

    • Furthermore, it is illegal to operate a boat recklessly while dragging another vehicle or person on any form of the device (including attempting to "spray" another boat or skier or passing on or over a ski or tow line with another boat or watercraft).

Anyone involved in a boating accident, like anyone involved in a car accident, must report the accident and contact law enforcement or emergency officials as soon as possible if there is personal harm or death.

If you've been involved in a Boating Accident, contact a California Personal Injury Attorney to help you.


Compensation For Your Injuries From Boating Accidents


Though the circumstances of each claim and case vary, the best approach to evaluate whether you are entitled to compensation for your injuries or lost wages is to speak with an expert personal injury and boating accident attorney about the specifics of your case.

It's worth noting that victims can handle some boating accident lawsuits out of court with the help of insurance companies. Personal Injury Attorneys with years of experience can advocate your interests during negotiations with the insurance company.

If your case goes to mediation or court, it's critical to have an experienced boating accident lawyer on your side who can advise you on your rights and fight for the financial compensation you deserve.


Your lawyer can help you with the investigation and, if necessary, help you recover the most damages, regardless of the type of boating accident involved.

CAVEAT: It is difficult to determine who is at fault in a watercraft disaster

When a person is injured in an automobile accident, it is usually because one (if not both) of the drivers should have done something differently to avoid the collision. However, boating is distinct in that it frequently involves natural forces, which are more common than in a non-weather-related car accident.


Who is to blame if you or a passenger is injured when your boat collides with another boat's wake, is hit by a wave, or collides with a submerged item like a rock or landmass?

You must first prove the other party's negligence to seek damages for a watercraft accident. To be considered negligent, an individual must have done or failed to act with appropriate caution and that action or lack of action was the cause of the injury.


If you've been in an automobile accident, your first step should almost probably be to try to resolve your disagreement with the at-fault driver's insurance company. Boat insurance is not needed in California, though.

As a result, if you've been hurt due to a boat operator's negligence, filing a lawsuit is your only option for recovering your medical fees, collateral damage, and other damages.


What To Expect When Filing A Personal Injury Lawsuit?


After you've engaged a personal injury lawyer, you should begin building your case. In the first step, the plaintiff must list all of his or her costs, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Then, the plaintiff's Personal Injury Attorney will assist the plaintiff in crafting a formal complaint, which will be filed with the local court and served on the defendant, allowing the defendant to react.

Several personal injury claims are settled out of court before advancing to the trial stage. A compromise is frequently preferable to a lengthy court struggle for both sides. The longer it takes to settle the matter, the more legal and court fees both parties will have to pay. The mediation will be concluded quickly if the defendant does not object to the aspects of the Complaint.

The defendant's best interests are usually served by resolving the matter as soon as possible. However, some offenders may be willing to pay a little more in a settlement to put an end to a personal injury case. In the same vein, some claimants are eager to accept a significantly reduced case award in exchange for timeliness when faced with growing medical costs and living expenses. Their infirmity, on the other hand, hinders them from working. Our Personal California Personal Injury Lawyers can ensure that the compensation negotiations for a client are fair and equitable.

The matter will go to trial if a settlement cannot be struck. A personal injury case's trial process can be extensive, taking months or even years to finish. All sides of the lawsuit must exchange their available information and documents, question witnesses, and conduct cross-examinations during the Discovery process. The matter will eventually go to a trial before a judge and jury, who will decide the case's conclusion after thoroughly examining the relevant facts and testimony.

Why Do You Need A California Personal Injury Attorney for Boat Accidents?

A personal injury claim may appear to be straightforward at first glance. You were wounded and incurred financial damages due to the activities of another person or organization, and you filed a civil suit to seek redress.


Although this may appear to be a straightforward procedure, navigating the California court system without prior legal knowledge or expertise can be quite challenging. Missing a filing date, failing to show up for a planned session, and various other procedural errors can derail a case, leading to its dismissal by a judge before it even begins.


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Insurance-Related Concerns


Dealing with insurance companies is rarely easy or fun. Because insurance companies lose money when they pay out on claims, they use highly trained claims adjusters to look for any reason to deny or lower compensation amounts. Therefore, it is never wise to communicate with an insurance company without first seeking legal advice.


This is another reason you should contact a boating accident lawyer immediately following your accident. Most insurance firms require claims to be filed within a particular time frame after a covered incident. Therefore, any delay will cause your claim to be scrutinized more closely and cause additional delays.


A personal injury lawyer can draft an initial claim on your behalf and communicate with the insurance company and its employees. If your personal injury was caused by a car accident or similar event covered by another party's insurance, contacting a California Personal Injury Attorney may substantially speed up the appeals process.


What if a Wrongful Death Occurs in Boat Accident?


Every death is heinous, but not every death can be viable for Wrongful Death Claims in California. For there to be Wrongful Death under California law, someone else's negligence or wrongful behavior must have caused a death.


In this scenario, a person or agency may have failed to apply the required level of prudence, resulting in a fatal accident that could have been averted. In other words, if the defendant had not been negligent in their actions or omissions, her loved one would not have died.


What Compensation Can Families Get For Wrongful Death?

When you file a Wrongful Death claim, you seek more than just monetary recompense. It's a way to honor a loved one by ensuring that their rights are protected. Your loved ones can speak for themselves in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Although your family may not be able to hold the at-fault party directly accountable, their family may be able to seek reparations on their behalf. In California, a family may be able to sue a defendant for a variety of economic and noneconomic losses relating to the death:

  • Future income lost. The money or income the decedent would've made if they didn't unfortunately die.

  • Out-of-pocket expenses. All costs related to the decedent's death (medical bills, funeral, burial expenses).

  • Pension or retirement money. If a wrongful death occurs too soon, the income from a retirement plan may be reduced.

  • Inheritance. The value of inheritance that the decedent left behind.

  • Pain and Suffering. The wrongful death would compensate the victims and their loved ones' pain and suffering. This includes "intangible" values, like emotional distress, grief, anxiety, etc.

  • Punitive Damages. These damages are handed down in the more egregious cases, and it's meant to teach the defendant a lesson.

  • Companionship lost. If you have lost the companionship of a family member or acquaintance, you may be entitled to monetary compensation.

If a loved one died from a boating accident, contact a California Wrongful Death Attorney to help you manage your case.

The Deadline For Filing Wrongful Death Claims


Your family cannot afford to delay filing a Wrongful Death case for too long. In California, wrongful death cases are subject to a strict statute of limitations. Therefore, California courts will almost probably reject the lawsuit if the applicant does not sue within two years after the deceased person's death.

You have only two years to collect evidence, build a case, and launch a lawsuit against a defendant. To accelerate the claims procedure as much as possible, hire a California Attorney For Personal Injury as soon as you suspect wrongdoing in connection with your loved one's death.


Find The Best Personal Injury Lawyer for Boat Accidents in California


1000Attorneys.com is a California Bar Association Certified Lawyer Referral Service that can refer you to a Personal Injury Lawyer that's best suited to handle your unique case.


Our California lawyers are already pre-screened and experienced. Fill up our submission form or contact us through our 24/7 live chat for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.


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