Los Angeles is surrounded by beautiful bodies of water everywhere we look. Oceans, lakes, and rivers enrich our beautiful state’s geography and draw both locals and tourists alike to enjoy the waters. Inevitably, boating accidents occur. Boating accidents usually involve recreational personal vessels such as speed boats, bowriders, and sailboats. Boating accidents can also occur on commercial vessels, such as cruise ships or ferries.
Much like with a motor vehicle accident, serious injuries, and even death can occur if the boat is not operated safely or if the boat is improperly maintained, inspected, or repaired. Serious injuries can include brain injury, spinal cord injury, fractured bones, and other life-changing and permanent injuries. Contact our personal injury lawyer today.
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There are a number of causes of boating accidents. Usually, the cause of boating accidents has to do with the boat operator’s actions or inactions. A boat operator’s inattentiveness, inexperience, excessive speed, and/or failure to properly monitor traffic and weather conditions are some of the most common causes of boating accidents. The operator of the boat may be your close friend or family member, or he or she may be a stranger. Regardless of his or her relationship with you, boat operators have a duty to both their passengers and others using the waterways to operate their boats safely. This duty includes, but is not limited to:
- Keeping a proper lookout for other vessels, especially large vessels that can create large wakes
- Maintaining a safe speed for conditions
- Paying attention to signage indicating a no wake zone versus a wake zone
- Avoiding dangerous obstacles and conditions
- Abstaining from reckless maneuvers
- Properly anchoring the boat
- Warning passengers of any dangers ahead
- Providing passengers with life jackets and other safety equipment
- Having proper training and experience
- Abstaining from any drug or alcohol use while operating the boat (as with automobiles, if a boat operator’s Blood Alcohol Level exceeds .08%, he or she is considered legally drunk and can face fines, suspension, or revocation of his or her driver’s license)
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Sometimes the cause of boating accidents is the boat owner’s failure to properly maintain, inspect, and/or repair the boat in which the accident occurred. A boat owner is required to regularly conduct safety inspections of his or her vessel and maintain his or her vessel in a safe condition for passengers. If the boat owner knew or should have known that his or her boat had any mechanical, steering, or other issues that contributed to the accident, he or she may be liable for any injuries sustained by the passengers on the boat.
California law requires that boat owners and operators report a boating accident to the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways if the accident caused any of the following:
- Death (must be reported within 48 hours of the accident if the death occurred within 24 hours of the accident; must be reported within ten days of the accident if death occurred more than 24 hours after the accident)
- Disappearance (must be reported within 48 hours of the accident)
- Injury requiring medical attention beyond first aid (must be reported within 48 hours of the accident)
- Damage to the watercraft or other property exceeding $500 or complete loss of a vessel (must be reported within ten days of the accident)
Failure to report an accident based on any of the above conditions can result in a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to six months of imprisonment.
Establishing liability in a Los Angeles boating accident case can be complicated and requires a thorough understanding of the law and facts. The experienced boating accident attorneys at Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Team LLP can help you navigate your case, deal with the insurance company, and recover maximum value on your behalf. Not only may we help you recover medical expenses, but also loss of earnings, out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. Don’t hesitate to contact us for information about your potential case.