In 2017, 658 people were killed and 2,629 people were injured in boating accidents, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Boats, like cars, are powerful machines capable of wreaking havoc when they aren’t operated carefully. If you’re ever injured in a boating accident, follow these simple steps.
Be safe. If someone else is in the water after the accident, only help them out if you’re physically able to in spite of your injuries. Do not jump in the water and try to help if you aren’t sure you can. Try to use flotation devices to help the other person instead of jumping in – a panicking swimmer could take you underwater and cause you to drown.
Take photos. You need to document the accident as thoroughly as possible. Take photos of the damage to the boat(s), your injuries, injuries to other people, and any objects your boat may have hit. You’ll need these when you make a claim for compensation.
Call the police. You need a police officer to come to the scene, assess the damage, take statements, and write a report. If you believe the driver of your boat, the driver of another boat, or an object on someone’s property contributed to the accident, you need to tell the police what you saw that would be evidence of negligence. Alcohol is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, according to the Coast Guard. Operator inattention, improper lookout, and operator inexperience are some of the other most common factors contributing to boating accidents.
Get insurance policies. Get the insurance information for the boat you were on and any other boats involved in the accident. Get homeowner/land insurance information from anyone who owns property containing an object your boat hit. You should find out who is insured, what boat or property is insured, and what company issued the insurance policy. If possible, get a policy number too.
Get medical treatment. You should seek treatment as soon as possible. Insurance companies are skeptical when claimants don’t seek treatment quickly. If you’re on the fence about getting medical treatment, you should get treatment. If your doctor or chiropractor cannot see you immediately, go to an emergency room.
Contact an attorney. If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, there is probably an insurance policy that will provide compensation for your injuries. A skilled personal injury attorney can determine if insurance coverage exists and work to get you compensation. We recommend calling someone with a history of trying cases, because insurance companies sometimes pay more to people whose attorney may take the case to trial.
Don’t talk to an insurance company without talking to your attorney first. Generally, insurance companies are not on your side. Insurance adjusters usually seek to close cases by paying out as little as possible. If someone from an insurance company calls you to talk about an accident, tell them you need to talk to your lawyer before giving a statement. Remember, anything you say can be used against you in court.
Don’t post about the accident or your injuries on social media. It can be tempting to let everyone know you survived a boating accident, but don’t do it. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you should assume an insurance company is watching your every move on social media. Don’t put your case in a tough spot from the beginning.
At Rafi Law Firm, we help people who have been injured in all sorts of accidents. We have obtained millions in settlements and verdicts by proving our clients have been seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence. Give our experienced lawyers a call at 404-800-9933 for a free consultation or click here.