Boat Accident

This page answers questions you have if you have been injured in a boat accident. This page is not meant to act as a substitute for speaking with an experienced attorney, but rather to cover the basics of the law surrounding boat accidents. It will give you a foundation to understand your rights.

This page covers:

  • What should you do after a boating accident?
  • What NOT to do after a boat accident?
  • When should you consult with a lawyer?
  • Why not just deal with the insurance company?
  • How long do I have to file my claim?
  • Boating accident facts and figures
  • How much does an attorney cost?

What Should You Do After a Boat Accident?

In California, the Harbors and Navigation Code is the law and the Division of Boating and Waterways is the regulatory agency of waterways. If were involved in a boat accident you should:

  • Stop your boat! It is required by Harbors and Navigation Code § 656.1.
  • Assess your situation. If you are in distress, transmit the International Distress Call on Channel 16 of your radio. State your vessel’s call letters, where you are, and what the problem is.[1]
  • If you are not in distress, but see another vessel that is, you should make the distress call for them.
  • If you are involved in a boat accident, it is your duty to assist the people on the other vessel, so long as it won’t cause serious danger to your vessel, crew, or passengers.[2] This provision in the code also protects you from civil liability sought in relation to the rendering of assistance.
  • Once everyone is safe, exchange your name, address, and registration number of the vessel, and the name of the owners with the other party. This is required if there is an injury[3] and will ultimately be handed out by law enforcement to interested parties when you report the accident below if not requested anyways.
  • Report the accident as follows:
    • If you know or have reason to know that the accident resulted in the death or disappearance of someone you must report this immediately to the Department of Boating and Waterways and the nearest enforcement agency.[4]
    • If someone dies within twenty-four hours of the accident or a person needs medical treatment beyond first aid, you must file this report within forty-eight hours.[5]
    • If someone dies more than twenty-four hours after the occurrence or property damage is over $500, you have ten days to report it.[6]
  • Take pictures of the accident (if possible), damage to the boats, and any injuries.
  • If you or a loved one is injured, contact a San Diego personal injury lawyer.

Boat Accident | San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer

Don’t Do the Following:

  • Do not admit fault. The root cause of the accident may be the other operator, a defective part in their boat, or maybe even a defect in your boat. You do not want to hurt your case unintentionally!
  • Do sign anything, unless it is a ticket from law enforcement, without speaking to your attorney.
  • Do not speak with an insurance company, not even your own, until after you have consulted with a boat accident attorney. The other operators insurance company wants to minimize your damages.
  • Do not post to social media. No Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, Vine, etc. If you can “friend request” someone on an app, you shouldn’t post about your case on it.
  • Do not talk about your accident with anyone except your physician or attorney. This will be very important if your boat accident goes to trial.

Let Your Lawyer Determine Liability

Usually, it is extremely difficult to tell who, or what, was legally at fault for a boat accident. The other operator may have been negligent in their piloting. Maybe your vehicle had an unforeseeable defect in its manufacturing. Or maybe a combination of an infinite number of variables. Simply put, you shouldn’t try to determine who caused the accident. A boat accident attorney will be able to help you figure out if you have a case and who that case should be brought against.

When Should You Contact an Attorney

This is the easiest question to answer – as soon as possible! First off, it is almost impossible to make an informed decision with how to proceed. A boat accident lawyer will make it easier for you to recover from the insurance company your just rewards. We can guarantee that the insurance adjuster for the other boat operator will try to keeping the dollar amount you receive as low as possible.

Even if we put the money recovery aside, our attorney will help ease the stress that is inevitable after an accident. Most people are unsure of what to say, who they can say it to, or how to get treatment. Consulting with an experienced attorney after a boat accident can help streamline the process back to normalcy.

Why Not Just Deal with the Insurance Companies?

You can be sure that the insurance adjusters for the at-fault operator will do their best to minimize your compensation. They’re a business, they want to minimize how much they pay out. And while they are just doing their jobs, it may come at the expense of thousands of dollars that you need to recover from your injuries. A attorney can prevent this from occurring.

Additionally, a boat accident lawyer is in the best position to help you maximize your compensation. The goal of these laws is to protect you and return you to where you would have been if this accident never occurred. This compensation may include any emotional distress suffered by you or family members that were witnesses, your spouse due to loss of intimacy, lost income, and, maybe, punitive damages.

Finally, while your insurance company may be helpful in trying to recover for some of these loses, they won’t be looking for all of them. The other insurance company will most certainly not bring up anything your insurance adjuster missed as they try to minimize their payout.  Your attorney will be working on a contingency fee, so it is in their best interest to maximize your claim.

How Long Do I Have to File My Claim After a Boat Accident?

The statute of limitations for your boat accident is two years per California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1. Damaged property (i.e. your boat) has a three year time limit set in California Code of Civil Procedure § 338. The property damage, however, usually pales in comparison to the personal injuries involved. But statute of limitations issues are extremely complicated. Do not rely on this page. Contact a lawyer immediately.

Because of this, it is imperative that you contact a attorney as soon as possible after a boat accident. If you wait, you may jeopardize the size of your recovery. Our office provides hope to seriously injured people. We provides a strategy and relief for seriously injured victims.

Boat Accident Statistics

In 2015, the Division of Boating and Waterways reported that there were 503 boating accidents in California. From these accidents there were 232 injuries and 49 fatalities. Furthermore, there was $3.39 million dollars’ worth of property damage. In San Diego County, alone, there were 55 accidents, 29 injuries, and 3 fatalities with $164,705 in property damage. Not surprisingly accidents peak on Saturday afternoons in July.

What Are the Costs of a Boat Accident Attorney?

Our San Diego office provides free consultations for all callers, so if you or a loved one has been injured in boat accident, you should get your case reviewed. Furthermore, our attorney works on a contingency which means that you do not pay unless our attorney wins your case. Our office will also cover all the costs of your trial. These will also be recovered from your settlement or verdict.

[1] ABCs of California Boating

[2] CA Harbor and Navigation Code § 656(a)

[3] CA Harbor and Navigation Code § 656.2

[4] CA Harbor and Navigation Code § 656.3

[5] 14 California Code of Regulations § 6504(b)   (Let me know if this link doesn’t work. Website had a certificate error)

[6] 14 California Code of Regulations § 6504(c)