If you have been the victim of a boating accident, there are several things you should do to protect your rights and allow you to collect damages from the person who caused your injuries. Taking these steps will not only help you hold the person responsible for the accident accountable but may also help you pay for your medical treatment and other costs related to the crash.
- Seek medical attention. You may believe that your injuries are so minor that you do not need medical treatment after a boating accident. However, seeking immediate medical attention serves two purposes. First, you receive professional treatment that may identify injuries of which you were not aware. Second, your medical records lay the foundation for a later claim that you suffered injuries that may, in turn, have led to other costs and expenses.
- Get witness information. Before those witnesses disappear into oblivion, it is important to note names, addresses, phone numbers and other identifying information. This is especially important in a boating accident when identifying “drivers” by tags is impossible and most witnesses will not be identified through regular channels.
- Check for a boating accident report. A report on every boating accident that causes injuries must be filed with the state within 10 days of a crash. Failure to do so can be a serious legal violation and may incur criminal penalties for the boat owner. However, whether the report must be filed also depends on where the accident happened. If the crash occurred outside of California’s navigable waters, these rules may not apply. Try to determine if a boating accident report was filed in order to review the circumstances as they were described by the boat’s owner.
- Get as much geographic information as possible about the accident location. Water may all look the same, but different areas of it are governed by very different laws. International waters are governed by one set of maritime laws while California waters fall under another type of law. Waterways may flow from one state to another, as well; for example, Lake Tahoe has waters in both California and Nevada. It is very important to determine exactly where the accident occurred in order to know which laws will apply to a claim for injuries.
- Hire a professional boating accident attorney. The laws covering boats are different than those covering cars. Although both types of cases may involve personal injury, the laws affecting the safety and operation of boats are different than those governing automobiles. In order to understand the nuances and differences in the law, it is often helpful to retain an attorney who has experience dealing with boating issues and is prepared to represent the victims of these accidents.
A personal injury attorney may be able to help you recover damages for your injuries sustained in a boating accident. By following these steps, you maximize the chances that an attorney can work with you to recover compensation for your boating accident injuries.