Sailing, fishing, waterskiing, or boating on the Delaware River is a popular pastime for Philadelphia residents. Although a relaxing past time, boat wrecks are a common occurrence and often result in devastating harm.

Many novice boaters are not experienced enough to operate their vessels safely, while others may be under the influence of intoxicants, or operating recklessly. Sometimes mechanical failures or poor maintenance leads to accidents.

Regardless of the specific reason, if another person’s negligence resulted in a watercraft collision, you should contact a Philadelphia boat accident lawyer. A well-practiced injury attorney can guide you through the process of filing a civil claim for damages.

Deadline to File a Watercraft Crash Claim

Each state limits the amount of time an injured person has to file a lawsuit against a person whose actions caused their injuries. 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated §5524 allows plaintiffs two years from the date of the boat accident to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages. Failure to file before the legal deadline expires could bar them from recovery.

When the Pennsylvania government is a potential defendant, plaintiffs have even less time to act. A governmental entity might be a defendant in a watercraft accident case if:

  • There was a collision with a vessel owned by the Commonwealth or a local government
  • Navigation markers were absent, misplaced or faulty
  • Failure to enforce laws led to a dangerous condition that caused an accident
  • Known hazards in a waterway were not marked or removed

Pennsylvania law requires anyone wishing to file a claim against the Commonwealth to file a notice of claim within six months. If the notice of claim is not filed, the claimant loses all rights to seek compensation from the government.  Due to these strict legal deadlines in Philadelphia, it is imperative to seek a skilled attorney after suffering harm in a boating accident.

Proving Negligent Boater Liability

Plaintiffs must prove another party was negligent in order to be entitled to damages. Unfortunately, insurance companies and defense lawyers often attempt to find fault with the plaintiff’s behavior rather than acknowledge the liability of their insured. An experienced local attorney could identify all the potentially liable parties for a watercraft collision and hold them accountable for their part in causing the claimant’s injuries.

The owners of boats have a duty to keep their vessels well maintained and refrain from sailing in conditions that the boat cannot handle safely. Boat operators must be competent to handle their vessels, obey all navigation laws and safety regulations, and take reasonable care to operate the watercraft safely. Failure to do any of these could be evidence of negligence, and result in them being liable for the claimant’s damages.

In some cases, the plaintiff could also be negligent. As long as the plaintiff carries less than 51 percent of the fault for an accident, they can collect damages from the other negligent parties. However, the amount of the damage award will be reduced by a sum equal to the plaintiff’s degree of responsibility.

Contact a Philadelphia Boat Accident Attorney Today

Most boats offer little protection in an accident, causing boaters to suffer catastrophic injuries. Additionally, there is the added risk of drowning when a person suffers devastating harm.

Therefore, you should allow a seasoned professional to handle the complex legal process so you may focus on your physical recovery. Contact a Philadelphia boat accident lawyer today to schedule a complimentary consultation.