Orange County Boating Accidents Attorney
According to a 2013 report by NBC, the state of California is the second worst in the nation as far as the number of boating accidents. Further, the Golden State actually allows those as young as 12 to operate a boat. In fact, California was one of only five states (Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and South Dakota are the other four) at the time the report was published, which required no boater education at all. Many associate this lack of boater education requirement with the fact there were 2,775 boating accidents in the state between the years of 2007 and 2012.
Only Florida had more boating accidents during that time period, with 3,800. Following Florida and California for the highest number of boating accidents are Texas, New York and Michigan. Experts in the field believe that while a certain number of boating accidents are due to alcohol or drug impairment, the primary reason for the accidents is lack of boating education—the fact that so few boaters know even the most basic rules of boating safety. Despite the fact that states which require boater education have a lower rate of fatal accidents, several bills to implement boater education in the state of California have failed. If you have been in hurt in a maritime accident, then call Orange County boating accidents attorney John Rapillo today for a free consultation.
California Statute of Limitations for Your Boating Accident Injuries
The right to compensation following an Orange County boating accident could be voided if you do not file your claim in time. Every state has statutes of limitations which govern the amount of time a person has in which to file a personal injury lawsuit. In the state of California, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. Some boating accidents, depending on where they occur in the waters, could fall under jurisdiction established by the Jones Acts, which places a three-year statute of limitations for filing a claim for damages after being injured in a boating accident. Under certain circumstances, a California court may allow the statute of limitations to be halted, usually in the following cases:
- The injuries from the boating accident did not manifest until later, after the accident;
- The victim is mentally or physically incapacitated, or
- The person injured in the boating accident is under the age of 18.
Typical Damages Collected Following a Boating Accident Injury
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your boating accident, you may be entitled to compensatory damages, which are meant to cover such expenses as: hospital, ambulance, ER, physician, prescription drug and rehabilitation. You may also be entitled to pain and suffering damages following your accident, as well as lost wages, both past, present and future, depending on whether your injuries will ever allow you to return to work. Punitive damages are awarded when a defendant has acted in a particularly callous, malicious or grossly negligent manner. Punitive damages are meant as a punishment to the defendant as well as a deterrent to others. Your Orange County attorney can determine what damages you are entitled to receive following your boating accident. It can be a real relief to allow someone else to take responsibility for the legal aspects of your boating accident, giving you time to recover from your injuries.
Types of Boating Accidents
Most boating accidents happen when one vessel collides with another, however additional type of boating accidents include:
- Boat is flooded;
- Boat is grounded;
- Mishap by skier;
- Boat sinks;
- Boat capsizes;
- One or more persons on the boat fall overboard;
- Boat collides with a fixed object;
- Person or persons on the boat forcefully ejected;
- Fire on the boat;
- Explosion on the boat, or
- Person on boat struck by propeller.
Common Injuries Which Occur in a Boating Accident
Between 2009 and 2013, the boating accident fatalities which occurred were the result of drowning, trauma, carbon monoxide inhalation and hypothermia. The most common injuries received among those involved in a boating accident include traumatic brain injuries, concussion, soft tissue injuries, burn injuries, internal injuries, sprains and fractures, broken bones and spinal injuries. Many believe that because boating accidents generally occur on the water, the physical injuries will rarely be severe, however this is a serious misconception.
Boat operators, passengers and bystanders can suffer concussions and traumatic brain injury when their head strikes the boat, or when they are thrown from the boat with significant force. A traumatic brain injury can diminish a person’s ability to perform day-to-day tasks, to work, and to learn, and can make it difficult for the individual, as well as his or her family members to cope with the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury.
Boat operators and passengers are also susceptible to spinal cord injuries resulting from a boating accident, which can have a lasting impact on their future, as well as their day-to-day life. Injuries to the spinal cord can cause temporary or permanent paralysis, requiring extensive hospitalization and long-term rehabilitation and care. As a result of a spinal cord injury, a boat accident victim could miss an extended amount of work, or could never be able to return to work. Victims of spinal cord accidents may need modifications to their homes and vehicles, and can suffer emotionally, physically and financially.
Boat operators or passengers may suffer bone or ligament injuries from a boating accident. While such injuries may be easier to recover from than traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries, there may still be lasting complications, including serious, chronic pain. In some instances, the victims may have a lengthy and costly recovery process, and may be unable to enjoy their lives as they once did.
In a Coast Guard Executive Summary, it was found that among those who died in a boating accident from falling overboard (across the nation), a staggering 85 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Since a majority of drownings were caused by an unexpected entry into the water, victims did not have the forewarning to grab a life jacket, and weren’t wearing one as a matter of course. Those victims of drowning following a boating accident who were wearing a life jacket, yet still drowned, were either those in a kayak or canoe who became entrapped when their vessel capsized, or those who were injured severely enough they were unable to keep their face out of the water, even with a life jacket.
Boating Accident Statistics
The California State Parks Boating and Waterways Department published the following boating accident statistics:
- In 2013, Orange County had 60 boating accidents, resulting in 11 injuries and no fatalities.
- July is the month with the most boating accidents across the state of California, followed by June and August.
- Most boating accidents in California occur on Saturday, followed closely by Sunday.
- Although the cause of boating accidents in California vary widely, the following are the most common factors involved in boating accidents:
- Inattention of the boat operator;
- Boat operator driving at an excessive speed;
- Inexperience of the boat operator;
- Behaviors of passengers or skiers;
- Failure of machinery;
- Inclement weather;
- Boat operator acting carelessly or recklessly;
- Hazardous waters;
- Overloaded boat;
- Improper anchoring;
- Spilled fuel ignites;
- Boat operator has restricted vision;
- Boat operator makes a sharp turn;
- Drug or alcohol use by boat operator, and
- Heavily congested waters.
- Open motorboats are the most likely type of vessel to be involved in a boating accident, followed by cabin motorboats, personal watercraft and auxiliary sailboats;
- About 41 percent of boats involved in a boating accident were being driven by the owner of the boat, and
- Of the 2013 California boating accidents, 485 of the boats were operated by a man, while only 59 were operated by a woman.
Who Is Liable for Your Boating Accident Injuries?
The standards for liability in an Orange County boating accident with injuries will generally depend on which person acted in a negligent manner. In other words, if a person acted in a manner that others would not consider reasonable, failed to follow boating safety rules and was not mindful of the safety of their passengers and other boaters, he or she could well be considered negligent, therefore liable for the injuries sustained by others. The person who is found negligent in a boating accident could face civil liability, criminal liability, or both.
If the boat operator was boating under the influence, was recklessly operating the vessel, or exhibited gross negligence, then criminal charges could be brought against him or her. The boat driver’s legal liability for the boating accident could also depend on the visibility at the time of the accident, the speed the operator was driving, the size of the wave or wake, the type of boat, and whether the operator warned other passengers prior to hitting a particularly large wake or wave.
How an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
It is extremely important to have an experienced Orange County boating accident attorney by your side from start to finish. Your attorney will aggressively represent your rights, working hard to obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries. Further, your attorney will determine whether insurance coverage exists from different sources. There may be boat or auto liability insurance which will cover your injuries, homeowner’s insurance or uninsured or underinsured motorist for a major loss which exceeds policy limits.
If you believe your injuries were the result of a negligent boat operator in Orange County, or if the death of a loved one was the result of such negligence, contact a skilled Orange County personal injury attorney as soon as possible.