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Boating accidents and civil liability

If you are like many people here in Kentucky, summer means getting out on the water. Perhaps you have been looking forward to this time of year since winter. Now that you are out on the water, soaking up the sun with family and friends, you couldn’t be happier.

Then, out of nowhere, disaster strikes. Another recreational boat slammed into yours. Not only was your boat damaged, but you also suffered serious injuries. Sadly, this happens more often than you would think. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 4,158 boating accidents occurred in 2015. In those crashes, 2,613 injuries occurred and 626 people died.

What does the data say causes boating accidents?

Many of these accidents share commonalities such as the following:

  • Improper lookout
  • Operator inattention
  • Operator inexperience
  • Boating under the influence
  • Excessive speed

In reviewing these factors, a common theme also seems to emerge. Most of the accidents are entirely preventable.

What can you do about a recreational boat accident?

Just as it would be in an accident on land, you would need to prove that negligence led to your injuries. As for whom you may be able to hold legally liable for your injuries, it may include one or more of the following:

  • The boat operator at the time of the crash
  • The owner of the boat
  • Reckless passengers
  • The boat rental company
  • The boat manufacturer

Whom you end up pursing compensation from depends on the circumstances of your accident. Another factor to consider is whether your case falls under federal law or Kentucky law. This depends on whether you were in a location that the federal government considers a navigable waterway. A two-prong test will help make the determination of whether you would file your claim in federal or state court.

What happens next?

Pursuing compensation for your injuries involves many different facets. Determining the cause of your crash, who may bear legal liability and what court to file your claim in can be complex. The last thing you want to do is spend time in the wrong court or forget to include a party who could have contributed to your accident.

In order to increase the chances of not only getting everything right the first time but also successfully receiving all of the compensation to which you may be entitled, you may want to make use of the legal resources available to you.

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