Boating is a popular pastime in Alabama. The state has thousands of miles of rivers and plenty of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico.
With more and more commercial boats, fishing vessels, and recreational boats on Alabama’s waters, there has been a steady rise in boating accidents. Accidents involving boats often involve severe injuries and even fatalities.
If you or a loved one were injured in a boat-related accident, you need to contact a boat accident lawyer in Alabama right away.
Boating Accident Statistics
Alabama Boating accidents continue to increase, especially during the warmer summer months. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, July tends to be one of the biggest months for boating-related accidents across the country. In Alabama, recent statistics show July as being one of the deadliest months for boating accidents over the last 20 years.
The U.S. Coast Guard report shows that collisions between recreational vessels are among the most common types of boating accidents. Fixed object collisions, flooding, grounding, and passengers falling overboard are the next four most common types of boating accidents. Drowning was the number one cause of death, with most victims not wearing life jackets.
Factors like inattention, inexperience, and alcohol definitely play a prominent role in the number of boating accidents across the country. Environmental factors are sometimes to blame as well. Wakes, waves, hazardous waters, and weather have contributed to injury accidents.
Causes of Boating Accidents
Many factors can cause a boating accident. Accidents can occur whether you’re on a private boat, commercial vehicle, personal watercraft, or fishing boat. Some of the most common causes of boating accidents in Alabama include:
- Being inattentive or distracted;
- Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Not adhering to safety protocols, especially while waterskiing, wakeboarding, or operating a personal watercraft;
- Engaging in reckless boating;
- Disregarding weather advisories;
- Boating while fatigued;
- Not conducting a safety inspection before going out;
- Boating with no lights at night;
- Letting an inexperienced person captain the boat; and
- Failing to observe applicable maritime laws.
Other potential causes of boating accidents include explosions and electrocution. If there are multiple people on board, a passenger might start misbehaving and fall overboard or distract the operator. Boating accidents can be caused by more than one factor. That is why it’s important to contact an Alabama boating accident attorney who can determine whether you have a claim for damages.
Boating Accident Maritime Laws
If a boating accident involves a commercial vessel, like a cargo ship, there may be additional laws that apply. Maritime law has its own codes and rules. It governs ships, cargo, and even piracy. Disagreements between the owner of a ship and seamen or passengers will also fall under maritime law.
In general, maritime law provides some benefits and protections to those who are injured offshore. Shipowners are required to provide a seaworthy vessel. Seaworthy means the ship is well-maintained, appropriately equipped, and adequately staffed.
Additional maritime laws apply specifically to employees working on ships. For example, injured seamen may be entitled to maintenance and cure benefits from their employer until they recover. Maintenance and cure can cover items like rent, food, transportation, medical bills, and more.
If you are an injured seaman who is presenting a claim, a boat accident lawyer in Alabama can help. We will explain which laws apply and what damages you can potentially recover. Maritime law is complex. You need an experienced boating accident attorney to help you pursue a claim against all responsible parties.
Boating Accidents and Liability
It’s important to note that some boat accidents may fall under federal or state jurisdiction. That means maritime laws might apply in some recreational boating accidents, depending on the circumstances. For example, take the Alabama River in Montgomery, which is considered navigable water. In this case, federal maritime law applies. If it is not navigable water, then Alabama boating law applies.
Even as a tourist on a navigable waterway, you still have rights if you’re injured in an accident. If someone else’s negligence, reckless behavior, or intentional act caused the accident, you could pursue a claim for damages. When you retain the Dagney Johnson Law Group to represent you, we will sit down and explain exactly which laws apply and how best to pursue a claim for damages.
Damages Available for Boating Accident Victims
When you’re injured in a boating accident, there is a chance that your injuries are serious. You may have mounting medical expenses and significant lost time from work. Accidents involving negligence claims and private recreational boating accidents might allow you to recover damages for:
- Current medical expenses,
- Future medical bills,
- Current loss of earnings,
- Loss of earning capacity,
- Mental anguish,
- Emotional distress,
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of consortium, and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
In specific cases, there may also be an opportunity to pursue punitive damages. These are only applicable in accidents where the defendant acted egregiously or outrageously. Examples might include boating while under the influence or racing another boat.
How a Boat Accident Lawyer in Alabama Can Help
Retaining a skilled Alabama boating accident attorney is important. Alabama boating law can be complicated, and maritime law is highly specialized. Having an experienced attorney represent you means you can relax some knowing that the right parties will be held accountable. If you attempt to represent yourself, you may not file the appropriate claims against all the responsible parties. You could potentially lose out on the full compensation you deserve.
When you present a claim related to your job as a seaman on a commercial vessel, it can be even more complicated. That makes it imperative to choose an attorney who knows and understands federal maritime law.
If you were injured in an Alabama boating accident, let the experienced team at Dagney Johnson Law Group assist.
Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.