It’s beginning to feel like summertime along the North Carolina coast. As temperatures begin to rise, the boat ramps will be packed with locals and vacationers getting ready for a fun day on the water. Unfortunately, numerous boating accidents occur each year in North Carolina. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic there has been an unprecedented sale of new boats. New boat owners are often inexperienced. This inexperience, sometimes combined with alcohol, results in a number of accidents each year.
Our attorneys have operated boats throughout North Carolina their entire lives. It’s important to hire an attorney that understands boating safety and the rules and regulations that govern the waterways. If you’ve been involved in a boating accident, our attorneys suggest taking the following steps to make sure your legal rights are protected:
- Notify the Authorities: If you’re on the water and involved in a boating accident, you need to call the Coast Guard. If you have access to a VHF radio, then contact the Coast Guard on Channel 16. If you don’t have access to a VHF radio and you’re inshore, then you can contact the local Coast Guard Station, Sheriff’s office, or North Carolina Fish and Wildlife office in your area via telephone. If you weren’t at fault in causing the accident, an investigation by one of these authorities into the cause of the accident will help determine liability in your case. The authorities will create important documentation that can be the difference in an injured party recovering or not.
- Receive Medical Treatment: If you’ve been injured, you need to immediately seek medical treatment. The number one priority is always your health. Even if you’re not sure if you were hurt our attorneys recommend receiving medical care to rule out any unknown injuries that may create problems later. Make sure to document your injuries by reporting every issue to your medical providers and by taking pictures of your physical injuries. Also, be sure to keep track all records associated with your medical bills.
- Take Photographs and Videos: If possible, try to take or collect any photographs or videos that may exist of the accident, or damage to the boats afterwards. These photographs will not only assist your case, but may help local authorities in determining who was at fault in causing the accident.
- Mark Your Location: Many boats have a GPS, if so, use the MOB feature to mark your location. After the accident, it may be difficult in a body of water to determine precisely where the collision occurred. Having access to this information later may help greatly in determining liability. If you don’t have a GPS, try to mark your location on a smartphone.
- File a Report: If you’re involved in a boating accident, you need to file a report with the North Carolina Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission, Coast Guard, and/or Sheriff’s Office. Depending on where the accident occurred, the proper authorities will investigate. A report must be filed with the North Carolina Fish and Wildlife Resource Commission if there is a loss of life, injury requiring medical treatment, a person left unconscious or disabled for 24 hours, property damage exceeding $2,000, or if a person disappears from a vessel.
- Notify the Insurance Companies: Following an accident, make sure to notify your boaters insurance of the accident. If you know the insurance company for the at-fault party, make sure to notify them as well. However, do not discuss with the insurance company what happened other than to indicate the date the accident occurred and that there were injuries.
- Do Not Agree to a Recorded Statement, For Now: Insurance companies for the at-fault party routinely use recorded statements taken before an injured person has retained counsel to develop facts favorable to the defense. They will use these recorded statements in an attempt to limit the recovery of the injured person.
- Hire a Lawyer: If you’ve been injured, you should speak to an experienced North Carolina boating accident lawyer that specializes in personal injury. Dealing with the insurance company can be a very long and frustrating process. Determining liability in a boating accident can be challenging, different maritime laws may apply and you need an attorney who understands the process. Call us today for a free consultation about your case.