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Seattle Boat Accident Attorney

One of our knowledgeable Seattle boat accident attorneys is standing by to walk you through the difficult steps involved in receiving financial compensation from the at-fault party following a boating or watercraft accident. Call The Fang Law Firm today at (206) 489-5140 for a free case consultation.

As the weather gets hotter, you will find many Seattle residents enjoying a weekend on the Puget Sound. Boats are everywhere pulling friends and family members on tubes and water skis; jet skis fly by at top speeds. With an increase in boat traffic comes an increase in boating and watercraft accidents. These injuries are often unexpected and life-changing.

Seattle Boat Accident Attorney

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Why Choose Our Seattle Boat Accident Lawyers?

  • Ready to help. We’re available 365 days a year; our boating accident attorneys will return any call in 24 hours.
  • Poised to win. We have a 98 percent win rate across 10,000 cases.
  • Lending a hand. Our personal injury attorneys in Seattle will work on your case until the very end; we won’t hand you off to our support staff like other Seattle law firms.

How a Boating and Watercraft Accident Attorney Can Help

You may be stuck with a costly medical bill or lifelong injuries after sustaining a boating or watercraft related injury. A boating injury attorney can help you recover the financial compensation you deserve from the at-fault party. Washington does not require that personal boat and watercraft operators carry insurance.

Proving a Boating Accident Claim

To recover financial compensation from an at-fault boat owner, you will need to establish the at-fault party was negligent. To prove a negligence claim, you will have to establish the following in a court of law:

  • The boat owner or operator had a duty
  • The boat owner or operator breached that duty
  • The boat owner or operator’s breach of that duty was the proximate cause of your injury
  • The injury resulted in damages.

A skilled boat accident attorney in Seattle can help gather evidence to support each element of your negligence claim.

What Damages Can I Recover After a Boat Accident?

Boating accidents can cause serious, and sometimes life-altering injuries. If you were harmed on the water due to the actions or negligence of a boat operator, the party at fault must provide compensation for the damages you’ve suffered, including the following:

  • Your medical expenses and any future expenses for ongoing care
  • Loss of income during your recovery period
  • Loss of future income or diminished earnings if you’ve been left disabled by the accident
  • Pain and suffering
  • Other applicable non-economic damages like disfigurement, emotional trauma, and loss of enjoyment of life

While it’s true that monetary compensation can’t undo an injury or trauma, it can help injury victims to gain the best medical care with fewer financial concerns so they can focus on recovering.

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

Like other personal injury claims, victims of boating accidents have to file a claim within two years of the date of the accident. The state’s statute of limitations laws set this time limit in order to protect the quality of evidence after an accident and to prevent defendants from living under the long-term threat of a lawsuit. In limited circumstances, the state may suspend the usual 2-year statute of limitations. These mitigating circumstances include:

  • If a boating accident victim is under the age of 18 at the time of the accident they have two years from their 18th birthday to file a claim
  • If a latent injury caused by the accident is discovered later, the victim may have two years from the date of the discovery providing that it’s reasonable that they wouldn’t have discovered the injury sooner
  • If the person at-fault flees the state to evade justice, the statute of limitations may be suspended until they are identified and returned to the jurisdiction.

If you have questions about your accident claim and Washington’s statute of limitations, a Seattle boating accident lawyer can help.

How Do I Prove Negligence After a Boat Accident?

Just as car drivers on the road owe a duty of care to others to follow road rules, avoid distraction, and remain sober while operating a car, boat operators on the waterways owe the same duty to others sharing the water, including boats, jet skis, swimmers and operators of other watercraft.

Unlike criminal charges, proving negligence doesn’t require showing the defendant intended to cause harm to others. Instead, the burden of proof falls to the plaintiff to prove negligence on the part of the at-fault boat operator. When the operator of a boat engages in risky or negligent behaviors they are provably at fault in the accident.

Your Seattle boat accident attorney can help to prove negligence by the following methods:

  • Investigating the circumstances of the accident
  • Interviewing eyewitnesses
  • Reviewing any video or photographic evidence
  • Consulting with accident reconstruction experts when needed to understand the exact sequence of events
  • Reviewing the accident report
  • Documenting evidence of liability by showing that the accident was caused by negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing by the at-fault party

When a boat isn’t properly maintained or operated in a reasonably safe manner and the result is an accident, the party at fault is liable for damages.

What to Do After a Boat Accident

Washington has codified (or written into law) the steps required of a boat operator after an accident has occurred. The vessel must stop immediately at the site of the accident. A report must be filed with the Washington State Parks and Recreation services if any of the following occur:

  • Death
  • An injury that needs medical attention
  • A person disappears
  • The vessel sinks
  • Property damage above $2,000.

If a wrongful death, injury, or disappearance occurs, the boat owner must file the report within 48 hours. For property damage and other injuries, the boat owner must submit the report within 10 days. If the boat owner does not submit a report as required by law, the boat owner is entirely at-fault for the accident.

Regardless of the type of boating accident you experience, there are specific steps to take that help to protect your physical and financial interests in the immediate aftermath after securing your own safety and rendering any reasonable aid and comfort to other victims. If you have serious injuries, you may be able to do little except wait for help to arrive. If you are able to move about safely to use your phone—or you could ask an uninjured person to use the phone for you—you can document evidence that can later help to prove liability.

  • First, call 911 immediately to report the accident. There are several emergency response teams that may come into play, depending on the waterway. A 911 dispatcher will contact the appropriate agency
  • Take photos of the accident scene, including any contributing factors, the damage, and your injuries
  • Collect the contact information of the boat operators involved and any eyewitnesses
  • Seek medical attention immediately and undergo a thorough evaluation, being sure to report all symptoms
  • Ask for a detailed medical report with your prognosis and recommendations for treatment
  • Keep all medical records and bills
  • Obtain a copy of the accident report
  • Call a Seattle boating accident attorney before speaking to insurance representatives or at-fault parties.

Railing on the side of a boat on the ocean

Common Injuries in a Boat Accident

Boating is a relaxing activity for weekends and vacations but as exhilarating as a day on the water can be, the same factors that make boating a fun leisure-time activity also expose boaters and boat passengers to the risk of grave injuries in an accident. Common injuries seen in boating accidents range from mild to catastrophic and sometimes end in fatalities. Examples include:

Near drownings sometimes result in brain damage due to prolonged periods without oxygen, resulting in permanent impairment, disability, or death.

When a life-changing accident occurs during what’s meant to be a leisurely day on the water, the long-term consequences can be devastating.

Common Causes of Boating Accidents

Boating accidents can occur for any number of reasons, but the most common causes of boating accidents don’t involve weather.

  • Impaired boat driver: Boat accidents can occur from excessive alcohol intake or drug use.
  • Inexperience: A boat driver that is unfamiliar with how to drive a boat may not be able to spot hazards or dangerous situations.
  • Speed: A boat traveling at excessive speeds will take longer to slow down; no matter how knowledgeable its captain is, the laws of gravity and force apply even on the water.
  • Improper navigation: If a boat captain is unfamiliar with navigational guidance, they may crash into other boats causing serious property damage and severe injury.

Boating Accident Statistics

Capsizing and falling overboard remain the most common causes of boating injuries, while collisions between vessels are the most common accident type and cause of property damage. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s accident statistics, 2021 saw 2,641 total injuries from boating accidents and 658 fatalities. Both injury numbers and overall accident rates decreased by approximately 15% from 2020. Property damage totals exceeded $67.5 million. Around 81% of boating accident fatalities occurred through drowning, and of those drowning deaths, 83% of victims were not wearing a life jacket.

Sadly, operating a boat while intoxicated remains the number one cause of boating accidents. The majority of accidents on the water are not weather-related but happen on clear days and in calm waters.

Required Safety Equipment on Boats

Boating regulations require that vessels carry specific safety equipment. Failure to provide this equipment is negligence. Required safety gear in Washington includes:

  • Life jackets for every passenger
  • Life rings
  • Flares
  • Whistles
  • Fire extinguishers

Even small pleasure craft must follow these and other boating laws and regulations. Failure to do so leaves a boat operator liable for damages in the event of a boat accident in Seattle.

Contact a Seattle Boat Accident Attorney Now

The attorneys at The Fang Law Firm are well versed in Washington negligence actions. We are standing by to help you recover the financial compensation you deserve. Our boat accident attorneys in Seattle understand that recovering from an injury is stressful enough, we’ll work hard to get you the financial compensation you deserve so you won’t have to worry about anything but recovery. Call us today at (206) 489-5140 for a free case consultation.

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