Boats, jet skis, and other watercraft can be incredibly fun, but they require the same attention and care as any other vehicle when it comes to keeping occupants safe and preventing accidents. The waterways near San Diego, CA, and throughout southern California offer many different boating activities. There are also many regulations and laws applicable to watercraft in the San Diego area. It’s vital for anyone who owns and operates any type of watercraft in San Diego to know these rules and abide by them carefully. It’s also essential for anyone involved in a boating accident to know their rights and legal options for holding the responsible party accountable for their damages.
The San Diego boating accident attorneys at Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates can provide the comprehensive and client-focused legal counsel you need after experiencing any type of watercraft accident in the San Diego, CA area. We understand that you probably have lots of questions concerning your legal rights and how to hold the party who caused your boating accident accountable for their actions. We can provide the detail-oriented legal guidance you need to navigate the recovery process with confidence and peace of mind.
Why Should I Hire a San Diego Boating Accident Attorney?
You may wonder whether you really need to hire legal counsel after experiencing a boating accident in San Diego. If another party is clearly at fault for your recent boating accident, you might assume that you would have minimal difficulty in holding them accountable through the civil claim system on your own. However, the reality is that pursuing any type of civil claim is more complex than many people realize. There are many risks a boating accident victim might face when they do not have legal counsel guiding them through the civil claim process.
If you attempt to file your own boating accident claim, you must meet various procedural requirements with the San Diego civil court system. Making any errors in these preliminary stages of your case can lead to significant delays in securing compensation for your losses. Additionally, your claim can be thrown out of court if you make significant errors with your initial Complaint or other early filings. Missing just one deadline or making a single error with your court paperwork could jeopardize your recovery.
Even if you manage to handle all the procedural requirements of your case without an attorney, you would still need to do this while also managing the aftermath of your boating accident. These incidents can easily cause painful injuries that require long recovery times and prevent victims from working. Instead of attempting to manage these affairs on your own, rest and focus on your recovery with peace of mind by having an experienced San Diego boating accident attorney handle your personal injury claim.
Most Common Causes of Boat Accidents in the San Diego Area
Boating accidents can happen for many reasons, including:
Intoxicated boat operators. It’s vital for anyone who plans to operate a watercraft in the San Diego, CA area to understand that the state’s laws concerning driving under the influence (DUI) apply to watercraft just like they do for motor vehicles on the road. If you experienced a boating accident because a boat operator was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can file a civil claim against them to recover your damages. Additionally, the intoxicated boat operator would face not only civil liability for your damages but also criminal prosecution under California’s DUI laws.
Speeding. All of the various waterways around San Diego have specific speed requirements that boat operators must acknowledge. Operating a boat at high speeds may be exhilarating, but boats are generally difficult to maneuver. Speeding can make it impossible to avoid underwater hazards, swimmers, or other watercraft until it is too late, resulting in a devastating boating accident.
Ineffective safety equipment. A boat operator should have appropriate safety equipment onboard every time they take their boat on the water. This includes emergency food and water, a radio to call for help, emergency flares, and life preservers. There should also be at least one lifejacket for everyone onboard. It’s essential to check these devices regularly to ensure they are still functional.
Illegal wakes. When a watercraft moves through water at higher speeds, it generates a small wave behind it called a “wake.” Many San Diego, CA area waterways are “no wake zones” designed to prevent boaters from creating wakes. A wake can easily cause serious injuries to swimmers or even cause other boats to capsize.
Distraction and inattention. Distracted driving is the leading cause of road accidents, and distraction can also cause boating accidents. Boat operators must be cautious and observant of their surroundings at all times when operating their watercraft.
These are just a few examples of how boating accidents might happen in ways that implicate specific parties as liable for resulting damages. If you or a loved one experiences a boating accident, consider whether another party is responsible for causing the accident and your damages.
What Should I Do After a Boating Accident?
When a boat accident of any kind occurs, the boat operator should first stop their vessel immediately at the location of the accident and check everyone onboard for injuries. If you are riding in a watercraft as a passenger, you should check yourself and others in the boat for injuries and call for help if you are able to do so. First responders will administer medical care to those who need it, and if anyone is seriously injured they emergency responders will transport them to the nearest hospital for treatment.
Once you deal with the immediate aftermath of the boating accident, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible for a medical examination. Even if you believe your injuries are mild, a doctor can check to see if you’ve suffered any injuries that have not yet caused noticeable symptoms. This early examination not only reduces the chance of a serious injury going unnoticed and worsening but also strengthens your legal position in a subsequent personal injury claim. The record showing you sought prompt medical care will prove to the court that you took your boating accident seriously and sought appropriate care.
After receiving medical care, you should speak with a San Diego boating accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you determine which party or parties bear liability and assist you in filing your personal injury claim.
Who Is Liable for a Boating Accident?
The first step in securing compensation for your boating accident damages is to identify the defendant or defendants responsible for causing the accident. The defendant in a boating accident claim may be the operator of the boat you were occupying when the accident occurred, the operator of another vessel that collided with your boat, a product manufacturer, or another third party responsible for causing the incident.
Success with your boating accident claim in San Diego will hinge on a few things. First, it depends on your legal team’s ability to identify the party responsible for causing the boat accident. Next, you and your attorney must prove they were negligent in some way that directly caused the accident. Finally, you and your legal team must provide the court with a complete and accurate list of all the damages you incurred due to their negligence or intentionally harmful conduct.
It’s important to remember that California enforces a pure comparative negligence statute. This means a plaintiff in a personal injury claim could potentially face partial liability for causing their own damages. In this situation, they could lose a percentage of their case award as a result. When comparative negligence comes into play, the judge overseeing the case will assign the plaintiff a fault percentage based on the facts available. The plaintiff might lose that percentage of their case award. For instance, if your boating accident claim seeks $200,000 in damages but the judge finds you 10% at fault, you lose 10% or $20,000 from your case award, receiving a net award of $180,000 instead.
Damages and Compensation for a San Diego Boating Accident
Boating accidents can easily cause devastating and life-changing injuries. An injured boat accident victim in San Diego has the right to claim compensation for any and all damages resulting from a defendant’s negligence. This typically includes the victim’s medical expenses, both immediate and future, their lost income from the time they must spend in recovery unable to work, and compensation for their pain and suffering.
Contact Our Lawyers for Boating Accident Injuries & Property Damage
If you are unsure of the total amount of damages you could claim for your recent boating accident, contact an experienced San Diego boating accident attorney as soon as possible. Your legal team can accurately evaluate your claim and help you determine your potential compensation if you win your case. Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates can provide the legal representation you need after a boating accident in the San Diego, CA area. We know the stress and uncertainty that typically follows these incidents and want to help you approach your civil case with understanding and confidence. If you are ready to take legal action against the party responsible for causing your recent boating accident, contact Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates to schedule a consultation with our firm.
Kenneth M. Sigelman and Associates possesses an exceptional and thorough knowledge of California law, decades of legal experience and a commitment to achieve justice and obtain fair compensation for victims. Click below to learn more about our team of San Diego, CA attorneys.
KEN SIGELMAN J.D., M.D.
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