If you could use a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, renting a boat for the day and taking your family out on the water is the perfect way to escape—as long as you use safe boating practices. Although most boating excursions are fairly uneventful, the consequences that arise when accidents do occur can be catastrophic.

According to the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways, there were 588 boating accidents in California in 2016, which resulted in 266 injuries and 50 fatalities. The weather can sometimes play a role when it comes to boating accidents, but most incidents are preventable and occur as the result of one or more party’s negligence or recklessness.

If you and your loved ones were injured in a boating accident, contact Jeffrey E. Estes& Associates. Attorneys Jeffrey E. Estes and Alton J. Smith have been litigating personal injury cases on behalf of California residents for almost 30 years. Call 855-290-8080 to schedule a free case evaluation with an accident lawyer in San Diego.

Who Could Be Liable for a Boating Accident?

Much like in car accidents, liability in boating collisions depends on a variety of factors. Any number of parties could be responsible for a crash out on the water. Possible liable parties include:

  • The boat operator;
  • The vessel manufacturer; and
  • The rental company responsible for maintaining the boat.

In cases where multiple individuals or parties are responsible, comparative negligence will come into play. That means accident victims can recover compensation for the damages they incurred even if they played a role in causing the collision.

Pursuant to comparative negligence laws, the amount someone can recover following an accident will decrease by the corresponding percentage of their liability. Thus, if you incurred $50,000 in damages in a boating accident but you were 10 percent responsible for it, you could only recover $45,000, or 90 percent of the damages.

How Do You Prove Fault in a Boating Accident?

Proving liability in a crash on the water is often more challenging than doing so for a motor vehicle collision that occurred on land. In general, though, you essentially follow the same steps for building a successful boating accident claim as you would a car accident claim. This might include:

  • Documenting the scene;
  • Recording the circumstances of the crash; and
  • Reviewing local boating laws.

If you are thorough when documenting the scene, your lawyer may be able to determine which local boating laws the other party violated simply by looking at the photographs you took. For example, if it is obvious from the pictures that the other boat was carrying too many passengers for a vessel of its size, your lawyer will use that fact to prove liability.

In scenarios where liability is less clear, your attorney might review the weather conditions, the other boater’s experience, the condition of both vessels, and the rental agreements. Even if it turns out you were partially responsible for the accident, a seasoned lawyer will ensure you receive compensation to cover the damages for which you were not responsible.

If you were hurt in a boating accident and you want to file a claim against the liable party, contact Jeffrey E. Estes & Associates. Call 855-290-8080 to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney in San Diego. You can learn more about personal injury claims in California by visiting usattorneys.com/personal-injury/California.