Boating in and around San Diego can be an exhilarating way to spend a day, and based on the fact that there were nearly 50,000 pleasure vessels registered in San Diego in 2018, you will not be alone as you enjoy time on the water. Boating safely requires an additional level of concentration and responsibility when it comes to keeping yourself, your passengers, and all boats around you fro being in a collision. Unfortunately, many people do not take the guidelines, laws, and regulations in place seriously, and will consume alcohol while driving a boat, ignore channel markers and rights of way, and more. As you can imagine, sunny summer days in San Diego are prime for boating, but they are equally prime for boating accidents.
Hire an Attorney Now
If you have been hurt in a boating accident, it is important that you partner with an experienced attorney as soon as possible so that you are able to get the compensation you deserve, and the legal support that you need. Boating laws can be complicated, since there are federal, state, and local ordinances and laws that we will need to explore as we build your case and determine your rights. Because of these additional complexities, a very experienced personal injury attorney who is not familiar with boating accidents may miss some important details that will strengthen your case.
Contact Us For a Free Consultation
Contact us as soon as possible for a free case evaluation and an initial consultation where we will be able to discuss your boating accident in detail. Since these types of accidents have an additional level of complexity and fear—the fact that you are in open water after a crash—there are additional emotional impacts that these accidents can have, and it is important that we explore these impacts in order to understand how to get you compensation for these factors as well.
Read more below to get a general sense of how a boating accident claim in San Diego may be handled, but keep in mind that these types of accidents are highly specific to your situation and your experience. The following information is intended to provide you with a general overview so that you understand what to expect, but in order to make headway on your case in particular, we will need to begin our work together as soon as possible. Contact us now to get started today.
Why Hire a Boating Accident Attorney?
Personal injury cases of all types are very complicated, especially when you, the victim, are trying to focus on recovering from your injuries at the same time that you are fielding calls from insurance agents who are trying to limit your settlement. Even someone in top health will find that trying to navigate these processes without professional legal experience is overwhelming, so it is no wonder that it is nearly impossible when you have suffered from significant injuries. Unfortunately, the insurance company relies on you being overwhelmed so that they can get you to agree on a low settlement amount.
Focus On Yourself
When you are working with an attorney, you will be able to focus entirely on your own needs, such as your recovery, your personal life, and your professional obligations without needing to take on the additional stress of the insurance claim and worrying about whether or not you will be able to pay the mounting expenses that come with an accident. Your lawyer will be able to keep you updated on the claim process and the negotiations, but you will not be over-burdened with all of the details. Stress is proven to have adverse effects on recovery from physical injuries, so avoiding this stress is equally good for your mental and physical health.
Get Accurate Compensation Calculations
Once you initiate your claim, the insurance company will assign an adjuster to your case who will go through all of the details of your claim, including things like requiring your to take an independent medical examination, submit a variety of documentation proving your losses and damages, and more. Make no mistake: the adjuster is NOT trying to figure out how to pay you what you deserve; they are trying to find every way possible to cut corners on your settlement. During this time, the best action to take is to have your attorney do their own calculations so that you will have something to negotiate with when it comes time.
Fight Back With Legal Expertise
Once the initial claims investigation is completed by the insurance adjuster, you will receive a settlement offer from the insurance company. You will be surprised at how low this offer is, especially after you and your lawyer have worked out a calculation about what you actually deserve. When you are handling an insurance claim on your own, the insurance company will make it seem like this is the best offer that you will get, but it is rarely (if ever) true. Instead, your attorney will be able to counter this offer with a calculation that is much more realistic considering the damages that you have endured, and so the negotiation phase begins.
Make Informed Decisions At Every Step
Equally important is the fact that you will have legal guidance on-call for every step of this process, meaning that you will not need to worry about making the right decision or learning enough to make an informed decision on your own. Your attorney is there to guide you through this process when you must take action on your own and will be able to handle every step that they can without even needing to concern you with it. Having a trustworthy adviser through this process can be invaluable.
What To Do After a Boating Accident in San Diego
Getting into any type of accident is scary, but when you are in an accident in open water there are additional concerns such as drowning, hypothermia, or being lost at sea if you are separated from your vessel. You must think quickly to make sure that your safety is a priority.
Alert the Coast Guard
The most important thing to do after a boating accident is to make a mayday call on the radio so that the Coast Guard so that they can dispatch a response team as quickly as possible. Use Channel 16 on your VHF Marine Radio immediately, using the International Distress Call of MAYDAY. Give your boat name, your location, the situation, and report any injuries and other relevant information. Repeat your statements three times each, if possible, to ensure that all of the information is transmitted and received clearly.
Assess The Situation
If there is a fire on your vessel or if the boat is sinking, you will need to act swiftly to get each passenger fitted with a lifejacket or other type of personal floatation device (PFD) and get as far away from the vessel as possible to avoid being caught as it sinks, or injured in the fire or exposed to leaking fluids like gasoline or oil.
If you are able to remain on the vessel, this should be your top priority. Staying in or with your vessel will provide you with shelter and floatation as you are waiting for a team to arrive at your location.
Get Medical Help
When the Coast Guard arrives at the location of the accident, they will need to triage any injuries to ensure that those with the worst injuries get immediate treatment to reduce the risk of avoidable fatalities. Whether or not you are treated at the scene for your injuries, it is essential that you see a doctor as soon as possible. The obvious benefit of visiting a doctor is that your medical issues are addressed, but it is equally important that you establish a record of these injuries early in the process. This will be important during the investigation of your claim.
Hire a Boat Accident Lawyer
You will likely feel a lot of pressure to initiate an insurance claim as soon as possible, but hiring a lawyer before doing so is a great way to make sure that you take every appropriate step through this process. From the moment you alert the insurance company to your injuries, they will spring into action in order to limit your compensation, which is why it is so important that you have an experienced legal professional who is taking action at the same time. While your lawyer is working to make sure that your claim is handled with the appropriate care, you can focus on recovering from your injuries and getting appropriate medical care.
Common Causes of Boat Accidents in San Diego
There are many different situations that can lead to a boating accident, but according to the United States Coast Guard’s 2018 Recreational Boating Statistics, alcohol use and operator inexperience were responsible for more than 50% of the 280 deaths recorded, with alcohol responsible for 37% of all fatal boating accidents alone. In addition to inexperience and alcohol, other major factors include:
- Drug use
- Excessive speeding
- Failure to vent
- Improper lookout
- Operator inattention
- Inadequate onboard lighting
- Navigational rules violations
- Restricted vision
- Sharp turns
Of course, this list does not account for every possible factor of either a boating accident or a fatality, and whether or not your accident relates to any of the aforementioned causes, we will be happy to help you get the compensation that you deserve.
Many boat operators may use their boat only a handful of times each year, which, especially when paired with alcohol and distractions, can lead to many mistakes that begin before the boat is even unloaded at the boat ramp. Defensive boating can give an experienced operator an advantage, and hopefully will help them avoid some accidents, but even the most experienced boat captain is not guaranteed to avoid a collision with an inexperienced or reckless operator.
Frequently Asked Questions About San Diego Boat Accidents
The following are just a few of the most common questions that we will set out to answer during your initial consultation, as well as throughout the entire time that we are working together. Some questions may be simple to answer, but there are many other answers that we will need to spend a lot of time investigating and exploring before we are able to provide you with a comprehensive answer.
Who is at fault for my boat accident?
There is a nearly infinite number of possible causes of boating accidents, and your accident is no different. In order to determine who is at fault for your accident, we will need to go through a range of details including accident reports, eyewitness accounts, statements from you, your passengers, and the other boaters, and more. In addition, if the other driver was cited or arrested for things like recklessness or DUI, this will play a significant role in proving that they are responsible for your accident.
Whether or not your accident is extremely clear in who is at fault, we will be able to work through every step of the case and make certain that you have all of the proof necessary to get the compensation that you deserve.
How much is my boat accident case worth?
A boat accident, as with any personal injury case, has a lot of different variables that go into determining how much a victim is entitled to. The foundation of a personal injury claim is each economic damage that the victim suffers, including their medical bills, impacts to their earning capacity, any possible services that they needed to hire to help with their daily life, and more.
In addition to economic damages, you are entitled to compensation for non-economic damages such as the pain and suffering of your injuries, the stress and fear that you endured during the accident, and more. These damages are more complex to calculate but are just as important as the economic damages.
Will I need to go to trial to get compensated for my boating accident?
Very few personal injury claims require a trial, and in fact, most personal injury claims are settled without the defendant ever needing to file a legal complaint in the California courts. However, although the odds are in your favor that you will be able to settle your case, there is no guarantee. We will attempt to negotiate with the insurance company or other boater first, but if we believe that there is no path towards an out-of-court settlement, then the only option may be to prepare for trial.
In many cases, a personal injury attorney will hand the case off to a trial lawyer; luckily, the team at Injury Trial Lawyers, APC is equally experienced with personal injury claims as with trials, so you will be able to continue with us through every step of the way. This continuity can provide you with the confidence and comfort that you deserve through this difficult time.