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Involved in a Boating Accident? What Happens Next?

April 1, 2016 | Posted In Personal Injury/Negligence

In New Jersey, residents and tourists have plenty of options when it comes to spending time on the water, but when an accident happens, water fun can turn dangerous for everyone involved. A boating accident is scary for many reasons— the boat may be damaged, the passengers onboard could be injured, and if the accident is very serious, there’s the threat of drowning or being stuck with no way to return to shore.

According to the United States Coast Guard, a boating accident is any situation where a passenger on a boat dies or sustains serious injuries, disappears and is believed to be killed or injured, or the boat itself causes or sustains damages. After such an incident, it can be difficult to start picking up the pieces.

Depending on what happened and the injuries sustained, you have to determine who is responsible, who will handle the details of the accident, and who will make restitution for the medical costs and repairs.

There are a number of different factors that can cause a boating accident, and in such cases, it takes a skilled attorney to work through the nuances of a particular crash or accident to help determine who should be held liable under the law.

Boating Under the Influence

Over a third of all reported boating accidents involve a driver who is operating the boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Boating while intoxicated is a criminal offense in every state, and those who are caught could be subject to having their driver’s license suspended, high-dollar fines and even jail time, depending on what happens and how high the level of intoxication. In some cases, the intoxicated boat operator can also be held responsible for any injuries sustained by passengers or other boaters, as well as for any damages caused to or by the boat, under strict liability laws.

What Should You Do?

If you’ve been involved in a boating accident, you should take steps to ensure that the accident is handled properly. The U.S. Coast Guard requires boat operators to file accident reports whenever a boating accident causes serious injuries to people onboard or severe property damage. In smaller bodies of water, accidents may not meet these criteria, so boat operators should alert local authorities to ensure that an accident is properly investigated.

After filing a report, you should start looking into the requirements for filing an insurance claim, especially if you know who is at fault for the accident. Some jurisdictions require boat owners to carry insurance coverage as protection in the event of a crash or accident, while others leave it up to each owner’s discretion. If someone other than the boat owner was operating the boat at the time of the accident, their personal insurance coverage may come into play as well if they are responsible.

For more information about boating accidents and how to proceed if you’ve been involved in one, contact a New Jersey injury lawyer at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA. We represent anyone who has suffered injuries, property damage or losses as a result of a boat incident. To discuss your case and your options, give us a call today.

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