Even a relatively small boating accident can be a devastating to victims and their families. As such, it can be difficult to know what to do immediately after it happens. Knowing what steps you should take right after a boating accident can save someone's life and it can certainly reduce your legal stress significantly. Thankfully, state, federal and maritime laws allow victims to pursue claims for any and all monetary damages that you can prove are the result of the boating accident.
It is very important to gather information on the boating accident, starting with some essential information, including contact information for every possible witness, including the passengers on the boats involved in the accident, as well as the registration numbers for any boats involved and the numbers of any insurance policies that may be covering the accident. If at all possible, you will need photos that show the damage to the boat and the location where the accident occurred, information that will be helpful to your case later on. Do not, however, post the photos to social media, as there is no way to know what the insurance company may try to use them for their own ends.
One of the first things you'll want to do following your boating accident is to report it to the authorities, such as the US Coast Guard and 911. In most cases, you are required by law to report the accident, anyway. For instance, reporting the accident is required under federal law if someone was injured enough to need medical care, or someone has died. It is also required if damage to one or more boats exceeds $2,000, the boat cannot be moved from the accident scene or one or more boats is a total loss. When reporting your accident to the authorities, take care to remain calm and report only accurate information. Do not provide them with any extra information or speculation, since there is no way to know what information will be used against you in your case.
After that, one of the next things you should do is to hire a lawyer. Whether you were a passenger on the boat or its operator, there are many reasons why a skilled and experienced boating accident attorney is necessary.
Boating Laws Can Be Quite Complex
The fact of the matter is, any boating accident can be subject to federal, state, and maritime law. Because of that, while determining who is liable in a motor vehicle accident is fairly straightforward, setting liability for a boating accident requires consideration of a different set of procedures and a different type of guidance. For instance, someone who was injured as a passenger on a cruise ship may face a “choice of law” provision in their ticket's contract, and that provision could require them to abide by the laws of another state, or even another country. Many of those laws can apply to such critical aspects of your case as filing deadlines, statutes of limitations, and damage caps, among other things.
Practically speaking, it is essential to hire a personal injury attorney who has plenty of knowledge and experience regarding about boat accident law. This is important, since not all personal injury attorneys practice boat accident law. If you fail to hire an experienced boating accident attorney, you increase the risk of missing a sensitive deadline or losing your case on a technicality.
An Experienced Boating Accident Attorney Can Show You How Much Your Claim Is Worth
Face it; the aftermath of a boating accident will require interaction with an insurance company, and no one wants that. Before long, a insurance claims adjuster will approach you with a tempting offer in the form of a check, but you may not know whether it's a fair valuation of your case. An experienced boating accident attorney can help you determine the worth of your claim and base that value on several different types of damages, including:
Economic damages - These are damages designed to compensate you for the tangible costs resulting from your accident. These can include medical bills, including ongoing treatment and/or rehabilitation, boat repair or replacement, ongoing lost wages, or any loss of wealth or earning capacity, in addition to the cost of ongoing treatment or rehabilitation.
General damages provide the victim with financial recovery related to losses that are less tangible. These can include pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Your attorney will work to provide a fair and equitable compensation amount for losses f this type.
Your Lawyer Can Conduct an Independent Investigation
Quite often, an insurance company will often launch the first investigation into an accident. It helps to remember, though, that the insurance claims adjuster's job is not to be fair to you. They have been charged with paying out as little as possible to you, which means the check they give to you is likely to pay for very little. Insurance adjusters almost never work in your best interest. Your attorney, however, will always work to protect your interests and will usually conduct their own parallel investigation into your boating accident, as a way of making sure your needs are always at the forefront of the process.
Attorneys Work on Contingency, Which Means no Upfront Costs
Personal injury attorneys, including those who specialize in boating accidents, always work on a contingency basis, which means, in addition to a free initial consultation, they will also foot the medical bills, the costs of their investigation, including hiring photographers and forensic specialists. You will quite literally pay nothing unless and until you win your case in court or agree on a settlement amount. If you lose your case, you will pay nothing.
Hiring an attorney to help you recover compensation following your boating accident is absolutely a win-win for you. During that initial consultation, your attorney will outline the specific details of your case and provide you with a concise detailed list of your available legal options. And again, speaking with a lawyer and accepting their counsel is free to you, unless you win.
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