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In 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) reported 4,064 recreational boating accidents in the U.S. These accidents cost an estimated $39 million in property damage and millions more in medical costs and losses to victims and their families.

If you are suing another party for a boating accident that injured you, the claim may involve local, state, federal, and international laws. Needless to say, these can be complicated cases, so work with a lawyer familiar with boating law and accident liability in your state.

Types of Negligence That Lead to Boating Accidents

Just like driving a motor vehicle on land, boat operators owe others a duty of care to operate their vessel in a reasonably safe manner. This means obeying the laws of the state in which they are traveling and being alert and responsible when operating the boat.

According to the USCG, the following factors were the top five causes of boating accidents in 2014.

  • Operator inattention
  • Improper lookout
  • Operator inexperience
  • Speeding
  • Alcohol use/intoxication

Additionally, alcohol use was the leading contributing factor to fatal boating accidents in 2014, accounting for 21 percent of the deaths that year.

Boat operators must also obtain the proper credentials. Further, boat captains are responsible for ensuring their vessel is in good operating condition and has the necessary safety equipment in case of an emergency. Failure to do so could indicate negligence and liability for an accident.

Establishing Liability for a Boating Accident

The type of evidence you will present and the legal argument you will make depends largely on the details of your case. Evidence might include:

  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Surveillance video
  • State or local records
  • Physical evidence, including the boat itself
  • Police or other official reports

If you are arguing negligence based on the operator’s violation of a boating law, you must first determine which laws applied at the time of the accident. This could include local, state, or federal law, so work with an attorney to discover the laws that applied based on the boat’s ownership, location, and other factors.

Essentially, though, a boating accident case – like any personal injury case – requires establishing the basic tenants of liability: duty of care, negligence, causation, damages.

Boat operators owe passengers and others using the waters a duty to operate the boat safely and responsibly. If they fail to do so, and they cause an accident that injures another party, then they are responsible for that party’s damages. Damages might include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • And more

Locate a Local Boating Accident Attorney to Help You Get Compensation

Boating accidents can be more complex than a standard injury claim from a car accident. Different insurance coverage, laws, and regulations can complicate the process. So secure representation from a boating accident lawyer in your local area. Our Find a Lawyer feature can help you locate a boat accident attorney who can help you.