Boating accidents are often caused by the negligence of the watercraft operator. These kinds of accidents can be traumatizing to the individuals involved, and their effects can be severe and long-lasting. Victims may suffer a range of physical injuries in addition to emotional distress.
Fortunately, a Bala Cynwyd boat accident lawyer could help you recover financial compensation after a watercraft collision. Contacting an experienced attorney as soon as possible after your accident could allow you to achieve a positive outcome in your personal injury case.
Proving Negligence in a Boat Accident Case
The state makes watercraft operators responsible for their passengers’ safety through laws prohibiting boat operation while intoxicated and critical safety regulations for mandatory equipment like lifejackets. The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission estimates that alcohol has contributed to 20 to 25 percent of boating fatalities over the last five years.
Negligence occurs when boat operators fail to act reasonably and passengers are injured because of some reckless act or omission. For example, if a motorboat passenger is not provided a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket and is injured after falling overboard when the operator weaves through heavy boat traffic, a personal injury attorney in the area could build a case for negligence. They could argue that the operator did not act reasonably, and the passenger deserves financial compensation for injuries they incurred as a result.
The passenger could be compensated for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of the enjoyment of life, and future loss of earnings. A skilled legal professional could break down the components of negligence and the specific facts of the boating accident to build a credible case.
Illegal Actions Under Pennsylvania Law
The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission has a comprehensive boating guide that includes a list of illegal actions for watercraft operators in the state. Some acts that may be considered negligent and unlawful are:
- Operating a watercraft at a rate of speed that puts someone else’s life in danger
- Operating a motorboat less than twenty feet long faster than slow, no-wake speed while a person is standing on or in the boat
- Causing a boat to become airborne while crossing another boat’s wake if within 100 feet of the boat creating the wake
- Operating a pontoon boat at any speed while a person is riding outside the passenger area
- Weaving through congested waterway traffic
- Operating a boat within 100 feet of someone waterskiing behind another boat
- Operating a motorboat with anyone hanging on a swim platform or swim ladder attached to the boat
All of the actions listed as illegal in the boating guide could also be used as the basis of a negligence action against the watercraft operator. A local attorney who is knowledgeable about watercraft accidents could review the details of the situation to determine if a boat operator was negligent.
What to Do After a Boating Accident
When a boating accident occurs, the watercraft operator must stop, assist the passengers, and show identification to investigating authorities. If a passenger dies, disappears, or needs medical treatment beyond first aid, the Fish & Boat Commission must be notified immediately and a written accident report filed within 48 hours. For property damage exceeding $2,000, a written report must be filed within ten days.
Accident victims should document their observations and take cell phone photos if possible. They could also obtain copies of police and medical reports and solicit witness statements and contact information. A nearby watercraft accident attorney use this evidence when building a case for negligence.
Statute of Limitations in Watercraft Crash Lawsuits
The Statute of Limitations is the amount of time that the state gives people to initiate civil actions. Personal injury lawsuits, including boat accidents, generally must be filed within two years of the accident.
A Bala Cynwyd Boat Accident Attorney Can Help
If you are the victim of a boating accident due to someone else’s carelessness, you may be experiencing devastating injuries, financial burdens and emotional trauma. Enlisting the help of Bala Cynwyd boat accident lawyer could allow you recover damages and give you peace of mind. Call today to schedule a free consultation.