Wilmington residents and tourists can enjoy a day on the water in their boats most of the year. Unfortunately, a fun day can turn dangerous in an instant when someone else has been negligent or careless.
Recently, the number of boat accident fatalities in North Carolina has increased significantly. For every fatality, there are other people who suffer life-changing injuries.
You can take legal action when someone is to blame for your boat accident injuries. First, you must go through the legal process to prove that they are responsible and negotiate the appropriate amount of compensation. The boat accident attorneys at Horton & Mendez serve Wilmington, NC and can provide you with strong legal representation when you need to make someone pay for what they did.
Common Boat Accident Injuries
Boat accident injuries can be extremely serious. Besides the dangers of being out on the water, boats are not designed to withstand collisions in the same way as automobiles. There is little to protect you from the impact of a boat accident, so you could be seriously injured. Here are some common boating accident injuries:
- Drowning (and injuries associated with oxygen deprivation)
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Lacerations and contusions
No matter what type of injury you have suffered, the responsible party is legally obligated to pay your full damages.
Common Causes of Boat Accidents
Boat accidents can happen in a number of ways. Here are some of the common causes of boat accidents:
- An operator is out on the water in inclement weather
- Propeller strikes to swimmers
- Excessive speed (especially closer to the shore where there are speed restrictions
- Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol
- Piles or jetties in the water that are not visible
- Your own boat malfunctioning
- An inexperienced boat operator who misjudges the conditions or does not know how to handle their watercraft.
Sensible Boat Safety Precautions
It is up to boaters themselves to do everything possible to avoid accidents. Even when you take all the necessary precautions, you cannot control what others do (especially other boaters).
Here are some things that you can do to stay safe and enjoy a day on the water:
- Regularly inspect your boat and perform all necessary maintenance
- Make sure that everyone on your boat wears a life jacket or has one within very close proximity (even when wearing a life jacket is not required by North Carolina law)
- Operate your boat at a safe speed and avoid getting too close to other boats
- Do not drink alcohol when operating a boat
- Pay very close attention to weather forecasts and err on the side of caution when the forecast is bad
- Keep a safety kit on your boat
The most important tip of all is to use common sense at all times. You cannot completely eliminate the risk of an accident, but you can significantly reduce the risk of an accident.
Who May Be Liable for Your Boat Accident Injuries
There are numerous potentially responsible parties in your boat accident lawsuit. There may even be several possible defendants. Whoever bears part of the blame for your injuries could be made to pay for the proportion of the damages that they caused.
Here are some potentially liable parties:
- The company that manufactured the boat or a part when the injuries were caused by a product defect (you can also sue the dealer who sold you the boat)
- A government authority or marina owner, when the accident was caused by a poorly placed pier or traffic conditions in the water
- The operator of the other craft involved in the boat accident (along with the owner of the boat if they were not the one behind the wheel)
- The operator of the boat that you were on when they were negligent
- A rental company that owns the boat and leased it to the operator
Your attorney would perform a full and complete investigation to determine who would potentially be liable for the accident. It would be up to a court or the insurance companies to decide who needs to pay you what.
How a Boat Accident Attorney Can Help You
The legal process is the last thing that you want to deal with when you have been injured in a boat accident. Not only will your injuries prevent you from handling any details, but you may also not be in the best position to approach an insurance company whose business model depends on paying you as little as possible. There are many things that need to be done in the days immediately following your boat accident, meaning you cannot wait to hire an attorney.
Here is how the boat accident attorneys at Horton & Mendez can help you:
- We will perform an in-depth investigation of the boat accident and determine the right party to sue
- We gather the evidence that you need to prove that someone else was negligent
- We estimate the value of your potential claim after reviewing your own unique situation
- We file the claim with the insurance company on your behalf, or the lawsuit complaint in court
- We negotiate compensation in a settlement agreement (or detail the full extent of your damages in court so that the jury can decide)
At Horton & Mendez, our job is to help you maximize your financial compensation. Our attorneys are also avid boaters and have years of experience safely operating boats throughout North Carolina. Any dollar that you get in a boat accident case is money that you need now and in the future. You cannot afford to settle your case for too little. Hiring an experienced attorney is one way to keep that from happening.
Contact a Wilmington, NC, Boat Accident Attorney Today
The first step to legal representation in your boat accident case is to contact an experienced attorney. The lawyers at Horton & Mendez are standing by and ready to fight for you. Our job is to make the insurance company’s life harder before they try to do the same to you. To schedule a time to speak with an attorney, you can send us a message online or call us today at 910-405-7751.