For most people, there are few things more enjoyable than being on the water. Lake Tapps and other waterways in Washington provide ample opportunity for boating, swimming, and other aquatic activities. You can have fun and relax until someone else is negligent and you are injured as a result. It can turn a nice day into a nightmare.
Attorney Scott Terry has been guiding clients injured in boating accidents through the often complex personal injury claims process for more than 30 years. If you live in Sumner, Washington, or in Puyallup, Kent, Bonney Lake, Auburn, Lake Tapps, Orting, or King, Pierce, or Thurston counties, and you have been injured by someone else’s failure to uphold their duty of care, call Terry Law Firm, P.S. to recover compensation.
Involved in a Boating Accident?
What Should I Know About Boating Accidents in Washington?
Boats need to be registered in Washington. That includes any vessel propelled by an engine or sail. Boats include personal watercraft such as jet skis, wave runners, sailboats, motorboats, airboats, and paddlesport vessels.
Boating accidents occur on all types of waterways in Washington, including lakes, rivers, and the Pacific Ocean. Some of the more prevalent types of accidents involve collisions with another recreational or commercial vessel such as barges, tugboats, and fishing boats, with something floating in the water, or with fixed objects such as rocks, docks, and buoys. Injuries also occur as the result of flooding, capsizing, falling overboard or ejection, grounding, carbon monoxide poisoning, fires, and explosions.
What Laws are Relevant to Boating Accidents?
Boats operated on federally regulated waters are subject to federal laws, such as required lights, distress signals, life vests, and adherence to the federal rules of navigation. Certain negligent actions can not only result in civil charges by the U.S. Coast Guard, but criminal charges punishable by fines, imprisonment, or both. Federal waters are generally ocean waters, inlets, bays, and any other waterways you can navigate directly from the ocean.
The state of Washington enforces laws regarding the registration, education, age, equipment, and safe operation of boats. If a boat is involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, the disappearance of a person, or property damage of $2,000 or more, the operator who caused the accident must file a Washington Boat Accident Report within 48 hours. If the operator does not, the owner of the boat is required to do so.
Who Can Be Liable for a Boating Accident?
Who can be held legally liable for a boating accident will depend on the circumstances of the accident. There are, however, some common types of people or entities that may be the negligent parties:
- The driver of the boat you were riding in when you were injured may have failed to uphold their duty of care for your safety.
- The driver of another boat at fault for the accident may also be held liable.
- The owner of any boat whose driver caused an accident can be held liable because they allowed a negligent person to operate their vessel.
- A dock owner could be liable for two key reasons, including failure to maintain safe premises on and surrounding the dock and failure to ensure that operators using the docks are qualified to operate vessels.
- A person on the boat you are on or on another boat could be held liable if their actions interfere with the driver’s safe operation of the vessel.
- A driver or passenger under the influence of alcohol or drugs could be held both civilly and criminally responsible.
How Is Negligence Proven in Personal Injury Claims?
Proving negligence in a boating accident is categorically the same as proving negligence in any personal injury claim. You must prove that the person or entity owed a duty of care, that they breached that duty, and that the breach caused injuries and the resulting damages, such as medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
That said, proving negligence in boating accidents is usually more complicated than proving negligence in a car accident. For example, the right of way is clear on roadways but not so clear on waterways. Negligence is clear when a vehicle driver fails to properly secure cargo which falls off the vehicle and causes a driver behind them to crash, but not so evident when a wake behind a boat causes another boat to capsize. The best strategy you can have is hiring a personal injury attorney experienced with personal injury claims stemming from boating accidents.
Boating Accident Attorney in Sumner, Washington
Boating-related personal injury claims may be complex, but Attorney Scott Terry has been handling them successfully for 30 years. He is dedicated to delivering personalized legal guidance to clients in Sumner and Puyallup, Washington, and throughout King, Pierce, and Thurston counties who need experienced and aggressive representation in boating accident claims. Make the call to Terry Law Firm, P.S. and start pursuing your claim today.