Maritime Injury Lawyers

Whether you spend time on the water for work or play, the risk of an accident is always there. While destructive waves or wake from another boat can lead to injury, the most devastating injuries often come from human error. If someone’s negligent action on the water caused you to sustain an injury, you have the right to seek compensation for the damages you suffered. A maritime injury lawyer can guide you through the legal process, helping you understand your rights and the compensation available to get you back on your feet.

Common Causes of Maritime Accidents

The most common causes of maritime accidents relate to mistakes made by humans. For example, accidents often occur when:

  • Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Sometimes boaters forget that operating any type of vehicle, including a boat, is just as illegal as driving while impaired. Delays in reaction time and poor decision-making abilities make operating a boat safely more difficult.
  • Operating a boat without experience. In most states, using a boat requires a license, and obtaining a license requires training.
  • Careless or reckless driving. Someone can lose control of a boat just as they can with a vehicle. A lack of speed-limit signage and lanes does not denote an invitation to drive recklessly. There are rules on the water. If a violation of those rules causes injury to another person, the at-fault party should be held responsible.

These causes can lead to specific incidents that endanger the safety and lives of everyone present. For example, some common situations resulting from negligent behavior on the water include:

  • Falling overboard can occur anywhere, even at the dock. It may result in laughter or in serious injury. In addition, propellers on motorized boats can cause life-threatening damage.
  • Injuries caused by repetitive motion can occur under many circumstances. Without education on maritime safety, you risk suffering from feet, ankles, hips, neck, and back damage.
  • Slip and fall accidents are common on boats, given the instability of flooring and wet surfaces.

The most effective defense against maritime accidents is education and practicing proper safety measures. Without taking reasonable precautions, accidents can happen, but there is other little you can do when someone’s carelessness causes your injuries.

Common Injuries From Maritime Accidents

Some of the most common injuries from maritime accidents can lead to temporary or permanent disability, and the consequence of treatment is increasing medical debt. Examples of common injuries on the water include:

  • Electrocution. Many boats run on electrical currents just as any motorized vehicle would. However, the electrical systems can cause electrocution and burns without proper maintenance.
  • Drowning. Death is the worst possible outcome of a boating accident, but even people who know how to swim are at risk of drowning under certain conditions.
  • Soft tissue injuries. Whiplash is a common soft tissue injury that occurs an abrupt force causes the head to move aggressively back and forth, resulting in micro-tears in the soft tissue of the neck.
  • Traumatic brain injuriesTBIs in boating accidents can come from impact injuries, such as a blow to the head in a collision, or oxygen deprivation from extended water submersion.
  • Bruising and lacerations. Bruising is common in accidents involving forceful impact injuries. Minor cuts and scrapes can occur in any accident, but accidents involving propellers can lead to deep cuts and even amputation.
  • Back injuries. Spinal compression is common in boating, given the boat’s movement, but impact injuries can result in permanent or temporary paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries. In addition, broken or fractured vertebrae bones are particularly painful and take a long time to heal.

If you suffer any of these injuries, the negligent party from your accident should take care of the compounding medical bills. If you need to file a personal injury lawsuit, a maritime injury lawyer can help you understand liability as it affects your case.

Liability in a Maritime Accident Lawsuit

Determining liability in a maritime accident requires careful evaluation of the details of your unique situation. Sometimes the responsible party is evident. Other times it can be challenging to determine liability. Some general questions you should address include:

  • Who was operating the boat at the time of the accident?
  • Was the person operating the boat at the time of the accident licensed to use that type of vessel?
  • Did the person operating the boat act irresponsibly, ignoring their duties or abandoning their position?
  • Was drinking occurring on the vessel? Did the person operating the boat consume alcohol? If so, were they impaired when the accident occurred?
  • Was the boat in a safe condition for operation?
  • Did the boat contain all the proper safety equipment?

When you speak with an attorney, it is important to have as much information as possible. Sometimes the at-fault party could be someone not even present at the time. For example, suppose you rented the boat for the day, and a mechanical issue caused your accident. In that case, the responsible party could be the rental company or the company that manufactured the boat. Once you determine liability, you can file a claim seeking compensation for your losses.

State Laws Governing Maritime Accidents

Federal law generally covers accidents that occur on larger bodies of water, such as the U.S. Continental Shelf and the ocean. Additionally, every state has laws that govern accidents occurring on non-navigable bodies of water, such as lakes. The state mandates the specifics of these laws, but overall, they govern general topics. For example, state laws address:

  • Repercussions for boating impaired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Requirements for ownership and registration of boats
  • Expectations of boat operators and their applicable duties
  • Education requirements for licensing
  • When and how to report a boating accident

An experienced attorney can explain how state laws can affect your case and your ability to recover damages based on the details of your accident.

Federal Laws for Commercial Boating

The federal laws that apply to maritime accidents almost exclusively pertain to the protection of people working in the marine industry. Some critical federal laws include:

  • The Jones Act. This protects Americans working at sea.
  • The Oil Pollution Act. This addresses accidents and injuries incurred from oil spillage and mandates processes for compensation as well as requirements for oil clean-up.
  • The Death on the High Seas Act. This act provides an avenue for compensation for the families of wrongful death victims.

This list is not a comprehensive understanding of federal maritime law. For example, some laws mandate workers’ compensation and medical treatment for maritime workers, such as fishermen. If you suffered an injury in an accident under federal jurisdiction, consider speaking to a maritime injury lawyer about the details of your case.

What To Do After a Maritime Accident 

The average boating accident occurs during recreational boating. If an accident occurs while you are enjoying your day on the water, you can take a few steps to protect yourself and your right to compensation. For example:

  • Assess the safety of everyone involved. Count heads to make sure everyone is present, and then check for injuries. If anyone sustained a severe injury, contact emergency services immediately and remain in place.
  • Document the accident. This entails taking photographs, collecting contact information from everyone involved, and writing down boat registration and insurance information.
  • Talk to officials. Give an official statement to the parties in charge, and ask for a copy of their report. Try not to speak to anyone else about the accident.
  • Contact a maritime injury lawyer. If someone sustained an injury, especially a severe injury, contact an attorney to learn more about your rights to compensation.

Not all boating accidents are the same. Without injury, you have no grounds to file a personal injury case. However, if your property sustained damages, you can file a civil lawsuit to seek compensation. Additionally, every state has insurance requirements for registered boats. If a collision resulted in property damage and the at-fault party does not have insurance, contact an attorney to discuss your options.

How a Maritime Injury Lawyer Can Help You

A maritime experience should be exciting. However, when a fun day on the water turns into a devastating accident, the injuries can have a lasting financial effect. If you suffered an injury in a maritime accident because someone else behaved negligently, you should not have to pay for the resulting damages. At Judd Shaw Injury Law, our goal is to make seeking fair compensation as easy as possible. That is why we established the Judd Shaw Way, a set of core principles and values that we use to define our approach to every case. When you contact our office, we want you to feel safe and confident that you have a team on your side to aggressively protect your rights and offer moral support simultaneously.

Our No Fee Guarantee (R) ensures that you can hire us with no upfront fees and no risk. We ask for nothing until we secure a settlement for you or take your case to trial and win. So you have nothing to lose by reaching out for a free case review. Contact us today so we can get to work for you right away.