Yacht accidents are a regular occurrence. While they may rarely make headlines, lawsuits involving yacht accidents are common, and every day insurance companies settle claims with yacht guests and crew members. If you have been injured onboard a yacht (or as a result of falling off of a yacht), you should talk to a yacht accident attorney about filing a claim or lawsuit as well.
From slips and falls to collisions with other vessels, yacht accidents can take many different forms. Regardless of the type of accident in which you were injured, if the yacht owner (or another party) is responsible for your accident, an experienced attorney will be able to help you assert your legal rights.
Here’s What You Need to Know if You’ve Been Injured in a Yacht Accident
What do you need to know if you’ve been injured on a yacht? Here are five important facts about filing a claim for a yacht accident:
1. The Yacht’s Owner May Be Fully Liable for Your Injuries
Yacht owners can be held liable for accidents involving their vessels in many cases. Since yachts are typically multi-million-dollar vessels, their owners typically have substantial insurance policies that provide coverage in the event of an accident. Many (but not all) yacht accident cases involve claims against the owner, and yacht owners can be held liable for victims’ injuries on various grounds.
Some examples of potential grounds for filing a claim against a yacht owner after an accident include:
- You slipped and fell on the gangway onto the yacht
- You fell onboard because the deck was slippery or overcrowded
- You fell down the stairs or were injured in another accident below deck
- The yacht collided with another vessel (and the yacht owner was either at the helm or had hired the captain)
- The yacht caught fire, took on water or suffered any other type of catastrophic failure
2. If You Were at a Party or On a Charter, the Host Could Also Be Liable
If you were attending a party onboard a yacht or you were on a chartered yacht cruise, the host could be liable as well. Parties and charters frequently take place on rented yachts, although guests aren’t always aware that this is the case. Social hosts, charter companies and other businesses can also be held liable on various grounds and under a variety of different circumstances. When you hire a yacht accident attorney to represent you, your attorney will thoroughly investigate your accident and determine who (or what company) is financially responsible for what happened.
3. Proving Your Legal Rights After a Yacht Accident Requires a Prompt Investigation
When investigating a yacht accident, the sooner the investigation can take place, the better. Ideally, you will contact a yacht accident attorney the day after, if not the same day you get injured. When you hire an attorney to represent you, your attorney will send an investigator to examine the yacht based on your description of what happened. The investigator will take photos, videos and measurements; talk to anyone who may be around on the dock; and use a variety of other means to preserve and document any available evidence before it disappears.
In addition to hiring an investigator to conduct an on-scene investigation, your lawyer will work to gather evidence through various legal means as well. Ownership records, maintenance records, phone records, employment records, and various other forms of documentation may all be available to help prove who (or what company) is liable for your accident-related losses.
4. Yacht Accident Victims Have Clear Legal Rights
No matter what happened, if your yacht accident was not your fault, you have clear legal rights. Your specific rights depend on whether you were a guest or a crew member onboard the yacht:
Your Rights if You Were a Guest on the Yacht
Most of what we’ve discussed so far applies to guests. Depending on where a yacht accident happens, guests may be able to pursue their claims under state law, or federal maritime laws may apply. In either case, injured guests can—and should—hire a yacht accident attorney to pursue all available claims on their behalf.
Your Rights if You Were Working on the Yacht
If you were injured in a yacht accident as a crew member, you may need to file your claim under the Jones Act. Not all yacht accident attorneys handle Jones Act claims, so it will be important for you to choose a law firm that has experience helping crew members assert their legal rights. Depending on what happened, you may be limited to filing for maintenance and cure benefits, or your attorney may be able to help you seek full compensation based on an unseaworthy condition on the yacht or Jones Act negligence.
5. Most (But Not All) Yacht Accident Claims Get Resolved Through Insurance Settlements
In the vast majority of circumstances, yacht accident claims get resolved through insurance settlements. As we mentioned above, yacht owners typically have substantial insurance policies, and most companies that put on parties and operate charters have significant commercial liability insurance policies as well. So, while your attorney might need to take your claim to court, there is a good chance that this won’t be necessary.
With that said, there are no guarantees, and you need to do your part to help yourself as well. This starts with getting the medical treatment you need and hiring an attorney to conduct an investigation right away.
Talk to a Yacht Accident Attorney About Your Legal Rights for Free
Do you have a claim for a yacht accident? If you think you may be entitled to financial compensation (or if you don’t know and want to find out), we encourage you to contact us promptly to discuss your case. To talk to a yacht accident attorney at Brais Law Firm about your legal rights for free, call 800-499-0551 or tell us how we can reach you online now.