Whether it’s a day out on Lake Washington, Duwamish River, Andrews Bay, Shilshole Bay, Elliott Bay, Rainier Beach, or Wetmore Cove, the Washington State offers various ways to enjoy the state’s waters. However, a relaxing day out on the water could turn dangerous or even fatal in an instant when someone acts negligently and caused you and/or a loved one serious injury. In just one year alone, 106 boating accidents took place in Washington; 26 of those accidents were fatal, resulting in 27 deaths.
Being injured in a boating accident could not only leave you with serious physical injuries but financial burdens as well because of the medical expenses from the accident. Fortunately, you are entitled to legal remedies when pursuing compensation for your damages. You could file a claim to seek compensation for your injuries, loss of wages, property damage, and/or pain and suffering.
To help you get started on your claim, speak to our Seattle boating accident lawyer here at Boohoff Law. We are committed to helping injured victims pursue compensation and justice for injured victims of boating accidents. We handle personal injury claims on a contingency fee agreement, which means we only get paid when we secure your compensation.
Contact an experienced Seattle car accident lawyer today – call (877) 999-9999 or email us. We’re available 24/7!
Boat Operators Have a Legal Duty to Prevent Seattle Boating Accidents
Anyone who operates a boat or any watercraft has a legal obligation to observe state laws to ensure everyone’s safety. These rules restrict specific things that would compromise people’s safety. In Seattle, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Seattle Police Harbor Patrol enforce these rules.
For instance, the following are some restrictions and requirements for safe watercraft operation in Seattle:
- All individuals on a boat, including sailboats and motorboats, should wear life jackets or personal flotation devices.
- All boats should have the necessary safety equipment.
- Operating a boat under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is prohibited. .08 is the legal BAC or blood alcohol concentration for operating a boat, which is the same legal limit for driving a motor vehicle.
- All operators should follow the posted speed limits.
- All operators should use proper lighting when traveling at night.
- Operators can’t enter no-boat areas or travel above specific speeds in no-wake areas.
- People can’t operate watercraft, including jet skis, recklessly or carelessly that could endanger other people or property.
If a boat operator breaks any one of the rules above, it could serve as proof of wrongdoing or negligence in a Seattle boating accident case against that operator.
Common Causes of Seattle Boating Accidents
Various factors could cause different boating accidents. Keep in mind that when boating, a lot of things could go wrong, even in instances where the operator is focused and driving under great conditions. But, some boat operators are either distracted when driving or still drive under less-than-ideal boating conditions.
Below are some of the most boating accident causes in Seattle:
- Operators driving over the legal speed limits. For instance, the operator could be traveling too fast as they approach the harbor where the posted speed limit is lower. Likewise, an operator might be traveling too fast, failed to control the boat, and then hit swimmers or other boats in the water.
- The operator may be trying to operate the boat under bad weather conditions when the water is rough or choppy.
- Inexperienced boat operators. Buying a boat is fairly easy, but learning how to safely operate it will require proper training and experience.
- A boating accident occurred, and the operator failed to mitigate the damage because they did not have the necessary safety equipment such as floatation devices or fire extinguishers.
- A boat could hit or bump into an object in the water or a dock when it’s traveling at night or high speeds.
- Poorly maintained or malfunctioning boat equipment or components could result in fires or the emission of toxic substances and cause carbon monoxide poisoning or burns.
Damages for Boating Accidents
Injured victims may be entitled to pursue compensation for their economic damages and non-economic damages after a boating accident. When victims receive compensation from a boating accident claim settlement or court verdict, the monetary compensation aims to put them in the same position they were in before the accident and resulting injuries.
This means that the liable party’s insurance carrier should compensate victims for their future, present, and past damages, which usually include:
- Any justifiable medical bills you have incurred or will incur, minus the amount any insurance policy (like your health insurance, for instance) had paid for before you obtained compensation from the liable party
- Lost wages, which may include lost earning capacity
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Expenses related to nursing or other home care that you require while you recover from your injuries or long-term care in case of severe or permanent injury or disability
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Damage to personal property, including your watercraft or boat
You may likewise seek punitive damages if the liable party’s negligent acts were especially egregious, shocking, or reckless.
Seattle Boating Accident FAQs
What Exactly is a Boating Accident?
A boating accident occurs when:
- An accident in the water injures or kills a person
- A suspected boating accident results in the disappearance, injury, or death of a person
- The boat or water vessel sustains damage and/or causes damage
The most common types of water vessels involved in boating accidents include cabin motorboats, personal watercraft such as jet skis and WaveRunners, and open motorboats. Likewise, the types of water vessels with the highest death rate include personal watercraft, kayaks, and open motorboats.
Who Can File a Boating Accident Claim?
Anyone who sustained injuries in accidents that occurred in bodies of water, including ponds, lakes, and rivers, could file an injury claim against the party liable for the accident. If you were swimming in the water, you could also seek compensation from the boat operator who caused the accident that led to your injuries.
Likewise, individuals on personal watercraft are extremely susceptible to accidents due to a boater’s risk of operation. These fun activities could become fatal in a snap if a passing boat was traveling erratically or excessively fast, for instance. Additionally, passengers could file a claim against the boat operator or the operator of the boat that collided with the boat you were riding in, depending on which party’s negligent actions caused the boating accident.
What Causes Boating Accidents?
According to the Recreational Boating Statistics by the U.S. Coast Guard, the following (grouped into five categories) are the top contributing factors that cause boating accidents:
- Vessel Operation – Excessive speed, alcohol and/or drug use, improper lookout, failure to vent, violating navigation rules, insufficient onboard navigation lighting, operator inexperience, operator inattention, starting in gear, sharp turn, and restricted vision
- Passenger or Gear Loading – Improper loading or anchoring, overloading, passengers on transom, bow, or gunwale
- Boat or Equipment Failure – Component failure, machinery failure, hull failure
- Environment – Lock and dam, congested waters, the force of wake or wave, insufficient or missing navigation aid, hazardous waters, bad weather conditions
- Miscellaneous – Ignition of vapor or fuel, carbon monoxide exposure, unexpected medical condition
Who Can I Sue for a Seattle Boating Accident?
There may be different possible defendants or liable parties in a boating accident because boating accidents can occur for various reasons.
Below are some potentially liable parties that you could sue for a boating accident:
- The operator driving your water vessel – If you were a passenger that got injured in a boat, you might have a claim against the boat’s driver or the boat company employing the driver, particularly if certain factors, such as intoxication, aggravated or caused the accident. Keep in mind that if a close friend or family member was the boat driver, you are not really filing a claim against them. You are filing a claim against their insurance coverage.
- Other boat or watercraft operators – If you were riding or operating a boat that was involved in a boating accident with another water vessel, you can file a claim against the other vessel’s operator. This also applies if a vessel struck you while you were swimming or hanging out in the dock.
- Boat manufacturers – If the accident was a result of a defective component in your boat, you may be entitled to make a product liability claim against the retailer that sold you the boat of the boat’s manufacturer.
- Harbors and marinas – You could likewise file a claim against any parties that were responsible for certain conditions that led to the boating accident. For instance, the dock where your boat was stored or parked might have been poorly maintained and could have contributed to the accident.
Do State Boating Laws Protect Me Even if I Don’t Live in the State?
Yes. State laws protect you if you get into a boating accident in Washington state, whether as a passenger, boat operator, bystander, or swimmer, regardless of what state or country you live in. This means that you can seek compensation from the liable party. However, it’s vital to note that you will need a boating accident lawyer in Seattle and not from your own state or country, because the laws that will apply to your case are those of Washington State.
When Should I Report a Boating Accident in Seattle?
All boat operators involved in a boating accident should stop their water vessels at the accident site immediately. The law also requires them to help anyone in danger or any injured people unless doing so might endanger their own passengers or vessels. In certain situations, boat operators should likewise submit a written account of the accident.
According to Washington State laws, operators must file an accident report when:
- An individual died
- The injuries sustained require medical attention beyond first aid
- An individual disappears from a water vessel, and there’s a possibility that the missing individual suffered injuries or died
- The damage to property is more than $2,000, or the water vessel is beyond repair
If a boating accident involved an injury, death, or disappearance, you should file an accident report within 48 hours of the accident. Otherwise, the liable party may also be charged with a hit and run. File reports of other accidents within 10 days. If the boat operator can’t file the report, the boat’s owner is responsible for doing so.
Will I Need a Lawyer for a Seattle Boating Accident?
If you or a family member suffered serious injuries in a boating accident that occurred because of someone else’s negligent acts, you all may file a boat accident claim. You can seek monetary compensation for all your medical bills, lost earnings, and even pain and suffering.
Our Seattle boating accident lawyer here at Boohoff Law can evaluate the circumstances of your accident to determine who should be held liable for your losses. Reach out to us to request your free case review.
How Our Seattle Boating Accident Lawyer Can Help You
To obtain proper compensation after a boating accident in Seattle, you must be able to show and prove the liable party’s negligence or malicious intent. You will need to prove that the defendant owed you a legal duty of care and that they behaved in a manner that violated their legal duty or that the accident was a result of the defendant’s negligent actions.
Unfortunately, determining fault or liability for a boating accident is not always easy. For instance, a crash with multiple boats and injured victims could have multiple liable parties. Likewise, liability could even fall on parties other than the boat operator, such as the boat owner, passengers, boat rental company, or boat manufacturer.
With legal guidance from Boohoff Law, our skilled Seattle personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case, obtain proper evidence, and create a solid strategy for your claim. You can rest assured that we are advocating for your legal rights and best interests as you heal from your injuries. Call us at (877) 999-9999 or contact us online to request a free review of your boating accident case.