Spokane Boating Accident Attorney
Boating is a favorite recreational activity throughout Washington State. People boat to have fun with their family and friends, go fishing, skiing, and cruising. Unfortunately, some boaters do not handle themselves responsibly on the water. Many people are unskilled boaters, party too much or simply do not follow the rules. Drivers of boats and jet skis have the same responsibility as an auto driver and can be held legally responsible for their actions.
Boating While Intoxicated
Boating While Intoxicated or BWI is extremely dangerous and poses many of the same risks to individuals as driving a car while intoxicated. When individuals decide to combine boating with alcohol consumption, a relaxing afternoon can quickly turn into a disastrous, life-threatening situation. Individuals who operate boats while intoxicated not only put themselves in harm’s way but jeopardize the safety of everyone around them on the water.
Determining Liability for a Boating Accident
Determining liability for a boating accident is very similar to that of an auto accident. To make a boating accident claim, the injured victim will need to prove that:
- The driver of the boat or jet skis had a duty to drive safely and with reasonable care
- The driver of the boat or jet skis breached that duty
- A person or victim was injured or harmed
- That the breach of duty was the proximate cause of the person’s injuries or damages
Mechanical Defect or Malfunction
Whether a boat defect results from poor manufacturing or shoddy repair work, the individuals responsible for boating defects and malfunctions must be held accountable for their mistakes and oversights. When such a defect or malfunction cause boating accidents, the manufacturer may have liability for the boating accident through a product liability claim.
Washington State Legal Requirements
Washington State law requires the operator of a recreational vessel involved in an accident to file a Washington Boat Accident Report when:
- Loss of life occurs
- Injury occurs which requires medical treatment beyond first aid
- A person disappears from a vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury
- Property damage is in excess of $2,000, or there is complete loss of a vessel
If there is an injury, disappearance or death, a report must be submitted within 48 hours. Reports in other accidents must be submitted within ten days. If the operator cannot submit the report, the owner of the vessel is responsible.
Steps You Should Take After a Boating Accident
If you’ve been involved in a boating accident it’s important to follow some basic steps in the minutes and days following the incident. Treat your boating accident as seriously as you would a car accident. Document the experience as thoroughly as you can you can. Call 911 and make a police report.
1. Evaluate Your Injuries
Get immediate medical attention, even in instances when the injuries seem minor. Serious injuries may not be readily apparent immediately following a collision, so undergoing an evaluation is a smart move.
2. Do Not Implicate Yourself
Don’t assume you’re to blame. Avoid discussing fault when going over the facts with the the driver of the boat. Even if you believe the accident is your fault, don’t volunteer to take the blame, agree to pay for damages, or sign any statement that assigns blame without being advised to do so by an experienced personal injury attorney.
3. Exchange Insurance and Contact Information
Exchange contact and insurance information with the driver. If you’re unable to write information down, use your phone to take pictures.
- Full name, date of birth, address, phone number(s), email address, driver’s license number, and place of employment
- Vehicle make, model, color, and license plate number
- Insurance company and policy number
4. Document Your Experience
If possible take photos and video of the scene and any boats involved. Video on cell phones works excellent at recording this information, including sounds. Obtain the names of all witnesses and talk to them about their observations, and get their contact information. You should also contact the authorities and request a copy of the police report, once it’s available.
Keep a daily journal of any injuries and the impact they have had on your day-to-day life. Because It’s possible for a trial to take place 2-3 years after an accident, it’s important to document what you’ve gone through after the accident. A daily journal can be very useful if your case were to ever go in front of a jury. Keep copies of all your photos and videos in a safe and secure location.
5. Track Expenses
Any expenses related to your injury should be closely tracked and documented in the days and weeks following the incident. This includes medical bills, cost of prescriptions, lost work hours/wages, transportation costs, etc.
6. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve suffered personal injury due to an auto-bike accident, it’s recommended that you contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Once you get in touch with your lawyer, you’ll need to provide him with all the information and evidence you’ve gathered. This will aid the attorney in evaluating your claim and help him to begin work on the case more quickly. The sooner you get in touch with an attorney, the sooner they can begin the process of formally filing a claim. For compassionate and experienced representation call Robert Hahn at (509)921-9500.
Insurance Companies Are Not on Your Side
Most insurance adjusters will contact an accident victim within 24 hours of the accident. They know victims are most vulnerable in the immediate aftermath of an accident and more likely to provide a statement that may jeopardize the outcome of their claim. It’s best to provide the insurance adjusters with only your basic contact information.
Do NOT give any statements to an insurance company or investigator retained by another party or insurance carrier. Insurance companies are not on your side and will look for any opportunity to devalue or deny your claim. Before speaking to a representative from an insurance company you should consult with a personal injury attorney.
To learn more about insurance companies read our 8 Things Your Should Know About Insurance Companies post.
We Can Help
If your day of “fun in the sun” turned into a bad day on the water and you or a family member was seriously injured as a result of a boating or water-related accident contact Spokane’s Personal Injury Attorney Robert Hahn for experienced and aggressive representation. We will evaluate your case at no charge and help you make the best steps forward to recovery. Call (509)921-9500 or submit out free consultation form.