The nature and location of Louisiana mean that boating accidents are sadly all too common along the coast.
Since 2010, the state has seen an average of 25 boating fatalities a year, totaling over 4500 accidents, 651 deaths, 3000 total injuries, and around $38 million awarded in damages.
Seeking help and advice after being injured in a boating accident will ensure that you receive the damages you are owed and that you are awarded the financial compensation you need to rebuild your life.
Common Types of Louisiana Boating Accident Claims
There are a few types of boating accident claims which are more than familiar to attorneys.
Negligence is one of the most common types of claims made in boating accidents, and are applied whenever the operator of the boat is deemed to have operated negligently, and that this negligence resulted in the accident and your subsequent injuries.
Common examples of negligence are:
- Choosing to operate despite dangerous weather conditions
- Operating the vessel at excessive speed
- Hitting wake and waves at excessing speed, or at unnatural, dangerous angles
- Failing to have the necessary safety kit on board
- Operating a vessel with too many occupants
- Overcrowding or overloading the boat
- Deliberately making contact with other boats and vessels
Boating Under The Influence
Alcohol use is rampant on our Louisiana waterways.
Many people buy recreational boats for the sole purpose of spending the day on the water drinking and having a good time.
Unfortunately, this can put everyone on the waterway at risk.
As with operating a car or motor vehicle, operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense and is often the cause of accidents.
Louisiana law states that a DUI may be issued to any person operating a boat, who:
- Is under the age of 21, with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 or higher
- Is over the age of 21, or 21 with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher
- Is found to be operating the boat under the influence of any illicit substance
In addition, the owner of the boat may be liable for injuries and damage that occur as a result if they are found to have knowingly allowed the boat to be operated by someone they knew was under the influence.
Reckless and Careless Operation
The behavior of a boat operator will be deemed to fall under the category of ‘reckless operation’ in the event that the behavior has violated the official Rules of the Road, set out by the state, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
This includes violating any preset right of way or passing standards, using excessive speed, wake zones, or boating in specific types of dangerous weather or around dive zones.
If the operator of the boat is found to have violated these maritime laws, resulting in an accident, they may be found liable for any property damage and injuries.
Jet Ski Accidents
The nature of jet skis means that riders can suffer from far more serious injuries or death. These personal watercraft tend to have the rider exposed, with minimal protection, and this means that the consequences can be devastating.
Jet ski accidents typically fall into one of two categories:
- the fault of the operator - for example, negligence or recklessness
- the fault of the equipment - if there was faulty equipment, the manufacturer may be liable. If the jet ski was improperly inspected and/or maintained, the renter may also be liable.
The Jones Act is a piece of legislation put in place to protect workers on a boat. It covers them for any personal injuries which are sustained during the course of their employment, while they are on board the vessel.
A maritime claim under the Jones Act requires a far lower amount of negligence to qualify, and the injured party will have the option to take action against their employer if it can be proven that they were aware of the conditions.
The owner of the boat may be held liable if it can be proven that there was evidence the vessel was not seaworthy.
What Damages Are Available?
If you are the victim of a boating accident, you may be able to pursue the other party for damages and financial compensation with the help of a boat accident attorney.
This is designed to help victims rebuild their lives and can be useful in meeting a number of essential costs, including:
- Medical Expenses - Damages and compensation can be used to meet and cover any medical bills, which are incurred as a result of the accident. Examples may include hospital stays, surgery, medications, ambulance or helicopter trips, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, and any ongoing treatment such as physical therapy, which may arise as a result of the injury.
- Loss of Earnings - If you are unable to work while you are recovering or receiving treatment, compensation can be used to cover your loss of earnings for the time you are not employed. In addition, if your injury means that you will never be able to return to work or will be forced to take a lower-paying job, your compensation can also take this future loss of earnings into account.
- Adaptations - In some cases, your injuries may require adaptations to be made to your home and car, in order to allow you to live life as you did before the accident. These adaptations can be expensive, and you will be able to recover costs for these from the liable party.
When should you contact a boating injury lawyer after an accident?
You should at the very least consult with a boating accident lawyer after any major injuries occurred as the result of an accident on the water. This contact should be made before you give any statements to an insurance adjuster.
In Louisiana, the typical statute of limitations on filing a personal injury claim is one year after the accident occurred. But, we encourage you to contact us right away. Valuable evidence can be lost or destroyed quickly. Especially if it is left out on the water.
Many lawyers don’t like for us to tell you this, but in some cases, it does not pay to get an attorney. If that’s the case for you, we promise to let you know.
How much does a boat injury lawyer cost?
Personal injury lawyers get paid on a contingency basis which means that we only get paid if you get paid. We also offer free consultations. We will look over your case and give you our honest opinion on if we think you need to hire a lawyer or not.
In cases where fault is disputed and/or long-term medical care is required, a lawyer is invaluable in getting a fair settlement. In devestating cases of wrongful death, an attorney is always needed to get a just award.
With the right advice and guidance, you could receive adequate financial compensation to help you put your life back together.
Personal injury attorney Loyd Bourgeois can help you to explore the situation, build your case, and receive the compensation you are entitled to.
If you were injured in a boating accident on one of the many bayous, lakes or rivers in Louisiana, get in touch today and see how we could help you start rebuilding your life and fight to ensure that you receive the outcome you deserve.