Boating is popular throughout California and can be very enjoyable, but everyone needs to know their rights and legal obligations in boating accidents. If you are involved in a boat accident, you may wonder what action is required of a boat operator involved in a boating accident in California. It’s vital that the boat operator involved in an accident stops the vessel immediately as long as it is safe and then contacts 9-1-1 to report the accident.
Failure to report any vehicle accident, as California law requires, can lead to severe penalties. If you own and operate a boat in California, it’s best to do everything you can to limit your risk of having an accident in the first place. However, if you have a boating accident, you must uphold your legal obligations to avoid potential criminal charges.
How Do Boat Accidents Happen?
Some boat accidents will constitute grounds for civil claims. If you are unsure whether your recent boat accident is grounds for a lawsuit, it’s essential to consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. A boat accident can occur for several reasons, including:
- Dangerous wakes. A “wake” is a wave produced by a boat as it moves through the water. Many waterways are “no-wake” zones that prohibit boat operators from exceeding speeds that produce wakes. A wake could injure a swimmer or hit a nearby vessel, causing injuries to others.
- Underwater hazards. Boat operators need to pay close attention to marker buoys and other indicators on California waterways. Underwater hazards like rocks, sandbars, wreckage, and even wildlife can be perilous, and the operator may overlook one until it is too late to avoid a collision.
- Operator inattention. Distracted driving can be as dangerous for boaters as it is for motor vehicle drivers. The most commonly reported cause of boat accidents in the US is inattention. When an accident occurs because the boat operator was not paying attention to what they were doing, they can absorb liability for any resulting damages.
- Intoxication. California’s laws against driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol apply to boats as well as motor vehicles on land. If a boat operator causes an accident because they were intoxicated while operating their boat, they face DUI charges in addition to liability for victims’ civil damages.
- Ultimately, boat accidents can happen in many different ways, not all of which are predictable. However, when a boat accident occurs because a boat operator was negligent in any way, they become liable for any resulting damages.
Important First Steps After a Boating Accident
If you are a boat operator, it is essential to know what to do if your vessel has an accident. Stop the vessel immediately and contact 9-1-1 to report the incident. Check your passengers for injuries and provide first aid treatment to any injuries if possible. When first responders arrive, answer their questions honestly and concisely. Everyone involved in a boat accident should seek medical care after reaching the shore, including the operator and their passengers. Even seemingly minor injuries can be symptoms of more severe injuries that a doctor can identify and treat.
If you are involved in a boat accident that you believe occurred because of another party’s negligence, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced boat accident lawyer can help you determine fault for the incident and prove the full scope of your claimable damages. Your recovery from a successful lawsuit could be substantial depending on how your accident occurred and the damages you sustained.
Q: What Are the Odds of Dying in a Boating Accident?
A: According to the latest statistics, there are about 6.5 fatalities each year for every 100,000 registered watercraft. This may seem like a relatively low risk of death, and your risk of having a boat accident may be much lower than your risk of having a car accident. However, it’s vital to understand that a boating accident can easily result in devastating or even fatal injuries.
Q: What Is the First Action That the Boat Operator Should Take Immediately Following a Boat Collision?
A: When two boats collide, the boat operators must immediately stop their boats at the collision scene. Once they stop, they should ensure that everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket. They should check themselves and their passengers for injuries before checking on the occupants of the other boat.
Q: What Is the First Thing You Should Do If You Are Involved in a Boating Collision?
A: If you are involved in a boat accident and were not operating the boat, you should protect yourself from injury as much as possible. If you sustained injuries in the crash, do not do anything that might aggravate them and wait for first responders to arrive. Once you are ashore, your priority should be to seek medical care, even if you think your injuries are mild.
Q: Can You Sue Someone If You Get Hurt on Their Boat?
A: If a boat operator is responsible for your injuries from a boating accident, you have the right to file a personal injury claim against them. An experienced attorney can help you establish liability for your damages and help you gather the materials you will need to prove the full extent of your losses.
Boating Injury Attorney for Orange County, CA
Boating may be enjoyable, but it is also inherently dangerous in several ways. If you are unsure what to do after a boat accident in California, it’s best to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Chris and Frank has years of experience guiding clients through a wide range of personal injury cases, and we can put this experience to work for you. If you are ready to discuss your options for legal recourse following a boat accident in the Orange County, CA, area, contact Chris and Frank to schedule a consultation.