When you take a boat tour or schedule a charter, you expect to have a fun, relaxing and safe day on the water. You expect the tour or charter company to put your experience first, and you expect to go home with photos and fond memories.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.

Tour boat and charter vessel accidents are much more common than they should be. Whether cruising the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) or heading to a reef offshore, tour boat and charter vessel accidents can happen anywhere—and they can happen for a variety of different reasons. If you have been injured in one of these accidents, you have clear legal rights, and you should speak with a maritime accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Common Reasons for Tour Boat and Charter Vessel Accidents

Like all vessel operators, tour boat and charter companies have a legal obligation to ensure that their boats are seaworthy and that their captains and crew are capable of keeping their passengers safe onboard. But, despite this obligation, accidents remain fairly common. Various failures can lead to accidents on the water, with some of the most common causes of tour boat and charter vessel accidents including:

  • Inadequate Vessel Maintenance – From rigging failures on sailboats to broken trim tabs on yachts and center consoles, numerous maintenance issues can significantly increase the risk of a collision or other accident. While tour boat and charter companies should conduct routine maintenance on their vessels, some companies skimp in order to cut down on their expenses.  
  • Unqualified Captain or Inexperienced Crew – When you are on a tour boat or charter vessel, your safety lies in the hands of the captain and crew. If the captain is unqualified or crewmembers are inexperienced, they may not be capable of helping you get you home safely.
  • Overloading the Tour Boat or Charter Vessel – All vessels have capacity limits. If a tour boat or charter company allows too many passengers onboard, this can compromise the vessel’s navigational ability, and this can in turn increase the risk of capsizing or being involved in a collision.

Along with these types of issues, issues involving other vessels and boat captains can also lead to tour boat and charter accidents. For example, if a negligent boater does any of the following, the captain of your tour boat or charter vessel may be unable to protect you and your fellow passengers from serious injury:

  • Consuming alcohol at the helm
  • Texting or scrolling social media at the helm
  • Talking to passengers or taking photos or videos
  • Going too fast and failing to turn in time to avoid a collision or near miss
  • Creating a dangerous wake that causes you (or other passengers) to lose your balance
  • Failing to observe the Federal Navigation Rules or Florida’s boating regulations
  • Engaging in any other reckless or dangerous behavior that endangers other vessels and their occupants

Determining the Cause of Your Tour Boat or Charter Vessel Accident

Following a tour boat or charter vessel accident, one of the first steps toward asserting your legal rights is determining who (or what company) is responsible. If the tour boat or charter company is to blame, then your maritime accident lawyer will be able to file a claim with the company’s liability insurer. But, if another boater was at fault, then your lawyer may need to file a claim with the boater’s insurance company—or potentially his or her employer if the other boater was working at the time of the collision.

Determining the cause of a tour boat or charter vessel accident requires a prompt and thorough investigation. You should not accept the company’s explanation of what happened,  nor should you accept an apology. If you are coping with any type of serious injury, your financial and non-financial costs will add up quickly, and you owe it to yourself to make sure you receive the full financial compensation you deserve.

Steps to Take After an Accident on the Water

With this in mind, if you have been injured in a tour boat or charter vessel accident, there are some steps you should take as soon as possible. These steps include:

1. Contact a Maritime Accident Lawyer

You will need a maritime accident lawyer to investigate the accident and determine who (or what company) is responsible. You will also need a lawyer to file your claim, calculate your losses and deal with the liable party’s insurance company on your behalf. If you were seriously injured in the accident, you should not try to handle your situation on your own. It costs nothing out-of-pocket to get help from a maritime accident lawyer, and by working with an experienced lawyer, you can maximize your chances of recovering maximum compensation.

2. Seek Medical Treatment

To document your injuries and minimize the risk of long-term complications, you should seek medical treatment as soon after the accident as possible. Whether the accident occurred near home or you were taking a tour or charter on vacation, you need to prioritize your recovery after a tour boat or charter vessel accident.

3. Document the Accident and Your Injuries

To help your lawyer determine liability and pursue your claim, you should document the accident and your injuries as thoroughly as possible. If you have any photos or videos on your phone, be sure to keep them. Take notes detailing everything you can remember about the accident, and as you receive medical records and other documents, keep them together in a file at your home.

Discuss Your Legal Rights with an Experienced Maritime Accident Lawyer

At Brais Law Firm, we are committed to helping maritime accident victims and their families. If you need help after a tour boat or charter vessel accident, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free consultation. To discuss your case with an experienced maritime accident lawyer as soon as possible, call 800-499-0551 or tell us how we can reach you online now.

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