February 24, 2020
personal injury

Thousands of people in Alabama use boats for business and recreation. Both residents and visitors frequent the waters of the Gulf Coast and enjoy the rivers and lakes. Most of the time, they complete their journeys safely and have an enjoyable time. Unfortunately, there are occasions when boat operators engage in dangerous conduct. Their negligence puts the lives of other people at risk. In the first six and a half months of 2019, there were 25 boating deaths in Alabama. They resulted from 68 accidents. This represented a significant increase in fatalities over the previous year. In 2018, there were 75 boat crashes and 17 deaths. Boating accidents are almost always the result of human action and in most cases, they can be prevented. If you or a loved one were injured on a boat, you may be entitled to compensation. You will need to work with an Alabama boat injury lawyer to prove that someone else was responsible for your injuries.

Common Types of Boating Accidents and Their Causes

A number of things can happen at sea and lead to injuries. Many are due to operator negligence and a claim can, therefore, be brought for damages. These include:

  • Hitting a large wave at an excessive speed
  • Operating in bad weather and causing individuals to fall overboard
  • Coming into contact with propellers
  • Operating at a high speed
  • Failing to carry adequate safety equipment
  • Colliding with people, other vessels or objects
  • Overcrowding the vessel
  • Flooding and capsizing

Some of these incidents occur because the operator of the vessel is inexperienced. As personal injury attorneys in Alabama know, it’s relatively easy to get a boating license in Alabama. Individuals must pass a state proficiency exam approved by the Alabama Marine Patrol Division in order to operate a motorboat with horsepower in excess of 15. Alternatively, they can complete an approved boater safety course. These are both written tests and there is no practical component like there is with a driver’s license. Furthermore, people as young as 12 can get an Alabama Boat Operators Certificate. And, 14-year-olds can operate a motorized vessel without direct adult supervision. This means children, teens and inexperienced adults are using the state’s waterways.

Another reason why boating accidents occur is because of alcohol use. Alabama law prohibits operating or being in physical control of a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, it still happens. An operator can be charged with boating under the influence if:

  • They have a blood alcohol content of .08 percent
  • They are intoxicated to a degree that makes them incapable of safely operating a vessel

If you believe the operator of a vessel was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you need to mention it.

Weather can also make the water less safe. Vessels can take on water during storms, causing them to capsize or even sink. You can’t hold anyone liable for bad weather. However, if there is proof that the operator acted negligently in some way, you can seek damages. For example, there may have been an inadequate number of life jackets or other safety equipment on board. Or maybe, the equipment was not in proper working order.

Thrill-seeking boaters and those with a false sense of security can also cause accidents. Some people get excited when they’re out on the water and push their boats beyond their limits. Others underestimate how close they are to other vessels and they can’t stop before they collide with them.

How An Attorney Can Help if You Were Injured on a Boat

If you suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence, an experienced attorney can help you get compensation. Personal injury cases can be quite complex so you will likely need assistance in:

  • Determining who can be held liable for your injuries
  • Collecting evidence regarding the accident
  • Preparing for meetings or hearings
  • Gathering your medical records and bills
  • Documenting all of the facts and preparing the paperwork
  • Successfully arguing your case in settlement negotiations or at trial

Contact the Team at The Vance Law Firm Today!

If what was supposed to be an enjoyable time on the water suddenly turned sour, you should seek legal advice. We will help you to determine whether someone can be held liable if you were injured on a boat. If you were in no way responsible for your injuries and someone else was negligent, you should be entitled to compensation. However, you will have to build an air-tight case. Reach out to our Alabama boating injury law firm and get the representation you need. Call The Vance Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation!

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