The U.S. Coast Guard reports that there were 4,291 recreational boating accidents in 2017 alone. These boating accidents caused 658 deaths, 2,629 non-fatal injuries, and over $45 million in property damage. Sadly, many of these boating accidents were caused by the operator inexperience or negligence, which means they could have easily been prevented.
Based on these statistics, it’s clear that boating accidents often lead to devastating consequences. If you are ever involved in a boating accident, it’s important to understand how to protect your rights and recover the compensation that you are entitled to by law. Follow these five steps immediately after a boating accident:
Prioritize Medical Treatment
Your first priority following a boating accident should be your safety and the safety of everyone else around you. If you are seriously injured, call for emergency medical assistance and stay put until they have arrived. If you are not seriously injured, check on everyone else who was involved in the accident. Chances are that someone will need emergency assistance at the scene.
If you are not treated at the scene of the accident, it’s in your best interests to seek medical attention as soon as possible after leaving. There are two reasons why this is absolutely necessary. First, some symptoms take longer than others to appear. It’s possible that you will feel perfectly fine after an accident, only to realize hours later that you are seriously hurt. It’s recommended that you seek treatment right away instead of waiting for this to happen. Plus, seeing a doctor right away will make it easier to recover compensation. The at-fault party’s insurance company will question whether your injuries were actually sustained in the accident if you wait several hours or days before seeing a doctor. Don’t let this simple mistake affect the outcome of your claim–see a doctor right away.
Make Sure You’re Not in Harm’s Way
Next, focus on making sure that everyone has been moved to safety. If the boat is still stable and above water, help all of the passengers who were thrown into the water safely board the vessel. If this is not possible, make sure that everyone who is in the water has the proper safety gear to stay afloat while they wait for help to arrive.
You should also try to move the boat to a safe location, if possible. Make sure the boat is not blocking anyone’s way, or it’s possible that it will get hit by another boat passing through the area.
Get in Contact With the Coast Guard
The next step is contacting the Coast Guard to report the accident and ask for help. The Coast Guard will need to know where you are located and the severity of the accident so they know what resources are needed. Be clear when communicating with them and provide them with as much information as possible so they can provide the assistance you need. After talking to the Coast Guard, it is important to stay in the same location so they don’t have trouble finding you.
The Coast Guard will need to create a report that outlines exactly what happened in the accident. But first, they will need to gather evidence from the scene so they have all of the facts. This may include talking to passengers or operators of the boat, taking photos, or inspecting the damage on the vessels. If the Coast Guard asks you questions, answer them honestly. The report that they are creating is evidence that can be used to help you prove fault and recover compensation, so it’s in your best interest to help them get the information they need.
Gather Evidence At the Scene
The Coast Guard is not the only party that needs to gather evidence at the scene of the accident–you will, too. Start by exchanging information with the other boaters that were involved in the accident. You will need this information in order to file a personal injury claim and recover compensation for your injuries.
It’s wise to ask other passengers that were involved in the accident for their contact information as well. These parties may not have caused your injuries, but they can still provide valuable information that can be used to prove liability. Ask for their full names and contact information, and let them know that an attorney will be in touch with them to discuss what happened.
Before leaving the scene, use your smartphone to snap photos of your surroundings. Take pictures of the boats involved in the accident, the safety gear that was available on board, visible injuries, and the area around you. You should also take photos of anything that could have contributed to the cause of the accident, such as empty beer cans that prove the operator of the boat was intoxicated.
Contact A Personal Injury Attorney
Start searching for a personal injury attorney right away after leaving the scene of the boating accident. Look for an attorney who has experience representing victims of boating accidents and successfully helping them recover compensation. Don’t be afraid to schedule consultations with multiple attorneys before deciding which one can provide the best legal representation. The right personal injury attorney can make or break your boating accident injury claim, so choose wisely.
Have you been seriously injured in a boating accident? If so, contact Carpenter, Zuckerman, & Rowley as soon as possible to discuss your case. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys will aggressively negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company to secure the compensation you deserve for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In the meantime, you can focus solely on recovering from your injuries. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation now.