Spending time with family and friends at your favorite lake or river sounds like the perfect way to spend a summer day. However, if others on the water fail to follow boating laws and safety requirements, you or your loved ones are at risk of being tragically injured.

Fortunately, a Bucks County boat accident lawyer could help if you or a loved one were hurt due to another boater’s irresponsible behavior. Well-practiced injury attorneys could review your case and determine if you have grounds for civil litigation.

Pennsylvania Requirements for Boaters

While most boaters wish to enjoy themselves when out on the water, lakes and rivers can be dangerous places if people behave recklessly. The best way to maintain everyone’s safety is to observe state boating laws, such as earning a boating safety education certificate, as required by 30 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes  § 5103. If a boater fails to follow these safety regulations, local attorneys familiar with watercraft accidents could help injured parties hold irresponsible boaters accountable.

Reporting a Watercraft Accident

PA Statutes, Title 30 §§ 5503(a) & 5507(a) – (d) detail the steps a boater must take after being involved in a collision:

  • Stop the craft in safe proximity to the accident
  • Provide personal information to authorities
  • Assist injured parties (to the extent reasonable)
  • Remain at the scene
  • File a report

If a boater fails to fulfill these requirements, they may face additional first-degree misdemeanor charges under 30 PA Statutes  § 5507(e).

Common Causes of Boating Wrecks

Unfortunately, many boat operators violate these safety standards, and this lack of judgment often results in catastrophic accidents. Watercraft collisions often are caused by:

  • Driver inexperience
  • Reckless boat operation
  • Speeding
  • Intoxication
  • Distraction
  • Inclement weather

In addition to facing civil litigation, a negligent boater could also face misdemeanor and felony charges under PA Statutes, Title 30  §§ 5501-07.  For example, a boater who recklessly causes bodily harm to another may face third-degree felony charges, which subjects the accused to a maximum sentence of seven years in jail and $2,500 – $15,000 in fines. It could be beneficial to speak with an experienced lawyer in Bucks County about how criminal charges could impact a separate boat wreck case.

What Damages are Recoverable After a Boat Crash in Bucks County?

In Bucks County, there are two types of compensatory damages someone injured in a watercraft accident could seek with help from a local lawyer: economic and non-economic. Economic damages reimburse harmed individuals for out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills, therapy costs, and the inability to work (lost wages). Non-economic damages address intangible harm such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, inconvenience, and decreased quality of life.

Limitations on Recovery

Although Pennsylvania does not cap compensatory damages, the amount a claimant may recover is subject to modified comparative negligence. Under this legal theory, as codified in 42 P.S. § 7102(a), the claimant’s percentage of fault will reduce the amount of damages they could collect, so long as they are not responsible for 51 percent or more of the injury.  Those who are 51 percent or more at fault will be barred from recovery.

To receive any award, claimants must also act promptly and file a claim before the statute of limitations expires. Under 42 P.S. § 5524(2), injured parties have two years from the time of the accident to file a claim for restitution. If a party fails to file within this window, they risk having their claim dismissed.

Speak with a Bucks County Boat Accident Attorney Today

Following a watercraft collision, you need experienced and knowledgeable counsel to investigate the incident, devise a successful game plan, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you at trial, if needed. A Bucks County boat accident lawyer could provide you with the guidance you need during this difficult time. Call today to schedule a case consultation for free.