Titusville Boat Accident Lawyer
We fight for our clients who are injured on the water
As of 2020, Florida remained the top state for boating accidents for the sixth year in a row according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The state’s geography and climate make recreational boating a common activity. Despite the high number of accidents and fatalities relative to other states, most pleasure cruises fortunately avoid bad outcomes. However, when accidents happen, unsafe boat operation is often the culprit. Severe injuries can result, and a personal injury claim may be necessary to recover financial damages. A Titusville boating accident attorney at Couture Law P.A. is fully prepared to pursue the compensation that you need from the responsible party.
Top causes of boat accidents
Boating safety information published by the U.S. Coast Guard highlights the leading causes of boat accidents. Some issues may begin as simple mishaps on the water but escalate until someone gets hurt. For example, running out of gas could leave a boat stranded in an area where other watercraft operators expect boats to be moving instead of stopped. A collision could result from such a situation.
Other dangerous issues are:
- Running aground
- Falling overboard
- Mechanical fires
- Motor breakdown
- Loss of electrical power and lights
- Speeding at night
- No life jackets or other safety gear
- Getting caught in bad weather
- Inattentive boat operator
Boating under the influence
Just as with driving a car or truck, intoxication from alcohol or drugs impairs people’s ability to operate a boat safely. When law enforcement finds that a boat operator has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more, arrest and criminal charges will ensue.
A police report confirming intoxication could clearly illustrate negligence and liability for any injuries or deaths that resulted from drunken boating. This may have been the case in a 2019 fatal boat accident published in the Titusville Bay Reporter. Pinellas County deputies responding to the boat crash by Madeira Beach said that they strongly suspected impairment and speeding. The boat hit a man riding a jet ski and completely ran him over. Authorities announced his death as soon as they got him ashore. The operator of the 37-foot boat was allegedly traveling at a very fast speed in a no-wake zone.
How to collect boat accident evidence
When a boat accident injures a person, you should call 911 to summon aid to the scene. If possible, you should take pictures of the area where the accident occurred. You might capture important evidence, such as no-wake zone signs, open alcohol containers, or watercraft damage that illustrates a collision took place.
Even when injuries appear to be minor, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. The severity of a blow to the head might not manifest for hours or days. Additionally, you will need medical records to support a claim for damages. A physician’s assessment provides crucial information about when and how the injury occurred and what treatment is necessary.
Ideally, you will collect contact information from people who witnessed the accident. Their statements could strengthen your insurance claim or lawsuit. In accidents that involve two or more watercraft, you should exchange contact information and ask for the boat operator’s insurance information.
Sometimes the chaos and distress that accompany serious boat accidents make evidence collection unrealistic for victims and their companions. A boating accident attorney can conduct a follow-up investigation and gather as much information as possible to prepare an accident claim.
Boat accident claim process
At first, you might file a claim for your medical expenses against the boat operator’s insurance company. However, problems can arise due to insufficient or lapsed insurance. Dealing with an insurer on your own also places you at a disadvantage. The insurer will require that you complete forms and reports and then scrutinize what you say for reasons to deny your claim. A personal injury lawyer can manage paperwork and strive to protect your interests during this process.
Although a claim denial is possible, you may likely receive a settlement offer. If it is unsatisfactory, negotiations will begin. You might have the option of shifting the discussion into mediation or arbitration. Although these alternative dispute resolution methods have much to offer, you should obtain legal advice before agreeing to settle your case in this manner.
If negotiations fail to secure adequate compensation, you have the option of filing a lawsuit. Moving forward with litigation could convince the opposing party to make a fair settlement offer prior to trial.
Special boat accident legal issues
Public waterways are the jurisdiction of the federal admiralty. This brings maritime law into play. That introduces the possibility that negligence must be judged by federal admiralty standards instead of what applies to car accidents on land.
Maritime law could become central to your case if you were injured on a ship operated by a cruise company. Federal-level regulations oversee boat inspections and licensing.
A knowledgeable attorney familiar with federal laws and courts can provide you with insights about how maritime law affects your case. Although few accident cases actually end up in court, a serious boat accident has a greater possibility of requiring litigation. A federal court may have to oversee a boat accident case.
In addition to evaluating any potential federal law issues, an attorney can research how state regulations apply to your accident.
Common state laws relating to boats include:
- Restrictions on watercraft speed
- Boating under the influence
- Accident reporting requirements
- Prohibition on people under 14 operating boats
Consult a boat accident lawyer right away
No one plans for a fun day on the water to end in injury or tragedy. In the aftermath of a boat accident, you may be in pain and uncertain about what to do next. You should not put off speaking with an attorney. The Florida statute of limitations only grants victims four years to pursue damages. Admiralty law reduces your time to three years should your case fall under federal jurisdiction. We can give you personal attention and help you make informed decisions. Schedule a consultation with a boat accident lawyer in Titusville by calling us today.