Approximately 34,000,000 people visited San Diego in 2015, and the summer months generated almost twice as much tourist traffic as the rest of the year. No doubt, the coastal allure played a big part in the draw. When you think of the hot summer sun on the California coast, you often see images of sailboats, fishing vessels, or ski boats. The list does not end there, as there are as many types of boats as there are reasons to be on the water. Unfortunately, boating adventures can turn into nightmares and whether you are a local or a visitor, you could be left with serious injuries. Were these injuries caused by someone else’s negligence? We can help.
Earlier this year, a whale-watching boat crashed into a San Diego Pier, injuring 7 of the 144 passengers on the ship. Fortunately, those on land reported no injuries even though at first, onlookers did not realize the danger that was quickly approaching them until one man shouted to get out of the way. The whale-watching boat did sound its horn, in an attempt to warn pier patrons, but nonetheless rammed the pier, digging in many feet. Passengers indicated that they could tell the ship was coming in too quickly when it hit and the crew even yelled at passengers to brace themselves. Upon impact, tables, chairs, and passengers went flying.
In 2014, southern California logged 286 boating accidents, resulting in 121 injuries and 12 deaths. The state’s most recent boating data shows that in 2012, in the entire state of California there were 473 boating accidents. Injuries resulted in 247 of those accidents and 53 fatalities were reported. Property damage resulting from these boating accidents totaled $5,794,000. On a national level, covering all 50 states, the U.S. Territories and the District of Columbia, the United States Coast Guard reported 4,158 boating accidents resulting in 2,613 injuries and 626 deaths in 2015. Property damage totaled $42 million dollars resulting from the recreational boating accidents.
I Was Injured in a Boating Accident, What Now?
If you have been injured in a boating accident, your injuries are not your only concern. Not only do you have to worry about proving your case by its merits, you also have to know in which jurisdiction to file your case. For example, San Diego has both lakes and ocean. Maritime jurisdiction varies depending on the coastline and even landlocked lakes are different depending on whether the accident occurred in a public or private space. It is imperative that you file your case in the appropriate jurisdiction, otherwise you are sunk.
You need to know when to file your case, as well. For a personal injury case, you must file it with the appropriate court within two years of the injury. If you fail to bring a lawsuit within this time period, then it is unlikely that you will be able to collect against the person or entity that did you harm.
Not only do you have to know where and when to file your lawsuit, but you also need to know what laws the party you are suing violated. This decision is largely necessitated by the jurisdiction in which you are bringing the lawsuit, but even within each jurisdiction, your attorney will advise you of the best claims to make in light of various laws.
Finally, once you and your attorney have determined venue for your case and the best applicable laws to present to the court, you will have to prove the elements of the case, including that someone was negligent and as a result you have actual damages.
Do I Have a Case?
Many factors go into being made whole again after a boating accident, but the most important factor is whether or not another person or entity acted negligently.
To assert negligence, you must prove that there was a duty of care owed to the you, which the defendant violated. The analysis does not stop there, however. Sometimes a person may act negligently, but their negligence does not cause your injury. Ultimately, there must be a nexus between the negligence and the injury; that is to say, but for the negligence, would the injury have occurred? If the answer is no, then you have a case.
Even so, the defense can assert claims of contributory negligence. This means, that even though the defendant acted negligently and as a result, you were injured, if you were also negligent, your actions may have contributed to your own injury. Does this mean you do not have a case? No. In California, the state supreme court has made it clear that contributory negligence does not bar a claim, though it may affect the amount of damages you can receive.
Finally, you have to have sustained some type of injury to file a lawsuit for negligence. This is what the courts call “damages.” To show damages, you have to prove actual harm, and not speculative future harm.
Seek Legal Help
Summer is here, and although San Diego sees boaters all year long, with increased tourist activity, surplus boating traffic certainly brings additional risk.
Perhaps you have been injured in a boating accident but you are not sure whether you have a case. Injury Trial Lawyers offer a free consultation, which will allow us to assess the facts surrounding your injury. You should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you are involved in a boating accident. The sooner we can start helping you with your case strategy, the more developed your argument will be. But, it is also never too late to seek legal advice regarding a boating accident. You cannot recoup losses owed to you without initiating legal action and we are experts in the field of lawsuits arising from boating accidents.