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Boating Collisions

Yacht and recreational boat collisions occur largely because people underestimate the dangers of yachts and boats as compared to cars. Powerboats such as runabouts, cabin cruisers, and jet skis are the most common watercraft involved in a collision, although sailboats can be involved in collisions as well. Having previously represented yacht and boat owners involved in collisions through the appointment of marine insurance carriers for 19 years, an experienced boat collision lawyer at Brais Law Firm is in a unique position to help in the event of a collision between yachts, boats or personal watercraft (a/k/a jet skis and skidoos). The lawyers at the law firm of Brais Law Firm, with offices in Miami, Florida, and Boston, Massachusetts, are here to help victims of yacht, boat, and personal watercraft (“PWC”) collisions and the resulting injury and even death.

Our Boat Collision Lawyer Explains Liability

Keith BraisLiability for yacht and boat collisions can be divided into 3 categories: (1) violation of safety or navigation rules; (2) failure to abide by recognized customs and uses in the area; and (3) failure to follow general concepts of prudent seamanship and reasonable care.

Collisions involving yachts, boats, and PWC are generally caused by one or both operators’ failure to abide by the federally prescribed navigational and/or safety rules. The law punishes those who disobey these regulations by presuming them at fault. The only way the violator can rebut this presumption is by proving that the violation “could not have contributed in the slightest degree to the accident” — something rarely accomplished. Violations that trigger this presumption include:

  • Not having the appropriate licenses,
  • Failing to display appropriate lights,
  • Disobeying navigational rules (“Rules of the Road”),
  • Not sounding the appropriate horn signals in limited visibility situations,
  • Not keeping a lookout,
  • Failing to monitor radar, and
  • Not maintaining a safe or posted speed.

The second-way liability can be imposed is when an operator fails to follow recognized navigational customs in the area where the collision occurred. Customs, no matter how well entrenched in the area, are not rules and cannot serve to trigger a rebuttable presumption. However, if it is shown that an operator failed to follow the area’s custom for the particular navigational situation, s/he will be deemed liable.

The final situation liability may be imposed in the absence of a statutory or custom violation is when an operator fails to follow general concepts of prudent seamanship and reasonable care. This standard is applied on a case-by-case basis, considering the circumstances and whether a prudent operator would have acted similarly. Should it be determined that the operator did or did not do something a reasonably prudent operator would have done, then s/he will be found liable for the collision.

A person injured due to a boat or yacht collision is entitled to a wide range of damages, including payment of medical bills, lost wages, loss of the enjoyment of life, as well as pain and suffering. Damages for wrongful deaths arising from a collision depend upon the person’s “status” aboard the vessel (e.g., crewmember, passenger or guest) and where the death occurred (inland waterways, navigable waterways but within 3 nautical miles, navigable waters beyond 3 nautical miles). 

Maritime Laws and Boating Regulations Basics 

When individuals visit and rent charter boats to enjoy some recreation and fun on the water, it can be confusing to determine which laws and regulations apply. Recreational boating is an industry that is huge in Florida and elsewhere throughout the United States, but boating can also result in a significant amount of accidents and injuries as recreational users are often inexperienced and more likely to cause boating collisions and accidents. 

As explained by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in Florida, there is no minimum age to operate a watercraft. Regulations are similarly lax in other states and areas, which can lead to underage operators engaging in risky and even reckless behavior. If you have been injured in a boating collision caused by the negligence of another party, you may be entitled to compensation. To get the compensation you deserve, the appropriate maritime laws and boating regulations must be carefully applied to your case to support the best possible outcome. 

There are Notification Requirements for Boating Collisions 

If you have been in a boating collision, there may be legally-required notifications that you must make, often before leaving the scene. For example, under Florida law, if a boating accident resulted in personal injury beyond immediate first-aid, death, the disappearance of any person under circumstances that could indicate death or injury, and/or there was damage to vessels and/or personal property in excess of $2,000, the FWC or the sheriff of the county in which the accident occurred must be notified. 

How Much is the Initial Consultation for My Boating Accident? 

One of the common concerns of those who have been injured in a boating accident relates to the cost of an attorney to help them collect the compensation to which they are entitled. With Brais Law, your initial consultation is risk-free and cost-free. We’ll carefully review the facts and information related to your case, and if it is a good fit with our firm, we’ll explore options on how we can help with your boating collision and related damages. 

Additionally, it is important to know that if we take your case, you’ll never have any out-of-pocket costs. This is because we typically take cases on a contingency fee basis, and we’ll discuss our compensation plan once you’ve decided to entrust your case with our team.  

What is a Contingency Fee? 

A contingency fee means we only get paid if we win your case. If your case fits with our firm, we’ll explain how our attorney-client relationship works before getting started. Generally, we take boating collision injury cases on contingency, and our payment comes out of a portion of what we win for you in settlement or through a lawsuit. Your initial consultation is free. Our clients have no out-of-pocket costs and can trust that we do our best to produce the highest possible settlement or lawsuit outcome, as our compensation depends on how much we generate for you.

Pursue Your Boat Collision Claim With A Boat Collision Lawyer Before the Clock Runs Out 

Federal law requires that personal injury and death claims resulting from a collision on navigable waters must be filed within three (3) years from the date of the accident. However, if you are a passenger on a cruise ship, the ticket provisions may require you to file a claim within one (1) year and provide notice to the cruise operator within 120 to 160 days of the accident. These time periods may be different under state law and even different from state to state.

Hiring an experienced boat collision lawyer knowledgeable in this specialized area of law can be the difference in your case. The attorneys at the law firm of Brais Law Firm have the experience to protect your rights, the compassion to serve your needs, and the skill to obtain the compensation you deserve. To reach our boat collision lawyers, you may click email the firm, call 800-499-0551 from within the U.S., Skype BraisLaw worldwide, or click Contact Us to select and complete a form for a free evaluation of your case.

 

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Your case will be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney who knows what it takes to get the results you deserve. The practitioners at our firm have over 70 years of collective trial experience. Our credentials and qualifications are extensive, including an “AV” Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell and membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. More importantly, we have a first-hand understanding of how insurance carriers operate because we represented clients insured with major insurance companies for nearly 20 years before we made a choice to change sides so that we could help the people who need us most – individuals just like you.

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Awesome team of legal professionals!! I can't thank Mr. Brais and his team enough for helping me through the worst experience of my life. Had it not been for their dedication to seeing things through. I would be in a very bad place. I highly recommend Brais Law firm.

R.C.

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