Whether you are enjoying an outing on a commercial pleasure tour, a friend’s boat, or a large cruise ship, accidents can happen. When they happen offshore, liability may be governed by maritime law. If you or a loved one has been injured in a recreational boating accident, know that you can count on the skilled and experienced South Jersey maritime lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Since 1945, we have been helping victims of maritime accidents recover compensation for their injuries.
As soon as the weather permits, waterways across the country are filled with every imaginable type of recreational boating activity from kayaking to sailing. America has many opportunities to experience water activities with two oceans, the Great Lakes, and innumerable other lakes and rivers. While most people enjoy their time out on the water without any incident, every year thousands of people are injured in serious accidents and have to be rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. Some do not survive. Damage to property from boating accidents is estimated at more than $40 million annually.
The following are some of the types of vessels involved in recreational boating accidents:
- Cabin cruisers
- Canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards
- Center console runabouts
- Go-fast boats
- Inflatable boats, including semi-rigid inflatable boats
- Personal watercrafts such as jet skis and wave runners
- Pontoon boats
Common Causes of Recreational Accidents
Boating accidents happen for many of the same reasons motor vehicle accidents occur and most are related to operator errors such as:
- Boating under the influence (BUI)
- Defective boating equipment
- Excessive speed
- Improper lookout
- Lack of operator experience
- Operator inattention/distracted operator
Operators of tour boats have special obligations to the passengers they carry, who may not be used to being on the water. Whether the boat is designed for a small private group or hundreds of people, warning signs must be posted informing passengers of any risks on board, as well as emergency evacuation plans.
Types of Recreational Accidents
Recreational accidents can take various forms including:
- Collision of two vessels, or a vessel and a stationery object such as a dock
- Engine room fires or explosions due to faulty, defective, or improperly maintained equipment
- Slip and falls on-board and overboard when precautions are not taken to keep the deck clean, dry, and free of obstacles
Compensation for Injuries Sustained in a Recreational Boating Accident
If you have been injured in a recreational boating accident that was caused by negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. The owner of the boat, the manufacturing company, the rental company, other passengers, or any party whose negligence contributed to the accident that caused your injuries could be held liable for damages.
You may be entitled to some or all of the following compensation for medical expenses, including:
- Future expenses
- Lost earnings past and future
- Pain and suffering.
It should be noted that boating under the influence (BUI) presents a serious danger that may even be worse than driving under the influence (DUI). The operator of a boat has many outside factors to deal with such as heat, wind, and glare that can contribute to the condition known as “boater’s fatigue.” Adding drugs or alcohol to the mix can significantly affect a person’s ability to safely operate a boat. Alcohol and drugs are involved in more than 50 percent of all boating accidents, with the leading factor in boating accident fatalities being alcohol.
Where you file a lawsuit depends on whether state or federal laws apply to your case. This determination can be complex and will require the knowledge of an experienced maritime accident attorney.
General maritime law is dealt with in federal court and applies to incidents that occur on navigable waterways. These are defined as “waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and/or are presently used, or have been used in the past, or may be susceptible for use to transport interstate or foreign commerce.”
Any injuries that did not occur on navigable waterways are governed by state laws and dealt with in state court. Consult with a seasoned maritime accident lawyer who can advise you of your legal options for compensation.
South Jersey Maritime Accident Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Recover Compensation for Victims of Recreational Accidents
If you or someone you love has been injured in a recreational accident, the dedicated South Jersey maritime accident lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. can help you. From our offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we represent clients injured in boating accidents throughout the surrounding areas, including those the NJ communities of Cape May, Gloucester and Wildwood. To arrange a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 888-999-1962.