Have you been injured by a boat, Jet Ski or watercraft?
Whether the accident occurred on a recreational boat, a Jet Ski, or a commercial vessel, Gregg Harrison is an experienced boating injury lawyer who can evaluate all the legal issues involved in these types of cases and may be able to help you receive reimbursement for medical bills and other losses allowed by Texas law.
As in most personal injury cases, our law firm can:
- Research the history of the actual vessel and similar accidents in the area
- Review the boating operator’s driving history and credentials (for example, perhaps the owner/operator was drunk?)
- Review relevant sections in the applicable federal or state laws
- Research case law for similar instances to support your position
- Investigate the scene of the accident or photographs
- Interview any witnesses to collect different perspectives to compose a complete account of the incident
- Review medical records and documents of your injury
- Consult with expert witnesses to gain additional insight into potential causes or other information vital to the claim
- Digitally recreate the accident for a visual effect (for the jury)
- Negotiate with defense attorneys and insurance companies to try and resolve your claim/suit.
Boating Accident Lawsuits
Many boating accident cases are brought under theory of negligence. If an individual fails to exercise reasonable care and an injury results, he or she may be considered negligent. Boat operators, boat owners, rental or sales companies, and manufacturers of the boat or its components are among the parties that could be held liable in a boating accident case. For example, boating operators have a duty to operate “in a reasonable and prudent manner with regard for other vessel traffic, posted restrictions, the presence of a divers-down flag and other circumstances” to ensure the safety of other boaters, guests, and property. Failure to adhere to these requirements may be considered negligence.
To prevail in a negligence suit, your attorney will have to show:
1. The other party (at-fault party) owed you some duty of care;
2. This duty of care was breached through some act or omission;
3. An injury was sustained; and
4. The breach was the direct cause of your injury.
Some examples of a breach of duty (in this area) include:
- Inexperienced operators;
- Failing to pay attention to surroundings, including other boats and swimmers;
- Insufficient or nonexistent navigation lights;
- Driving with restricted vision;
- Boating in hazardous waters or in inclement weather;
- Failing to carry safety equipment;
- Overcrowding or overloading the boat;
- Operating at high speeds;
- Failing to follow the “rules of the road”;
- Defective machinery or equipment; or
- Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Lawsuits may also be filed under other causes of action, including reckless operation (Gross Negligence). When the operator’s violation of their duty is committed with “willful disregard for the safety of persons or property,” the attorney must not only prove the elements of negligence, but also show that the duty of care was breached by a willful disregard, instead of failure to meet reasonable standards.
Injured by a Jet Ski?
As with other boating accidents, most Jet Ski accident cases are pursued under the theory of negligence. The injured must prove the other person had a duty of care to them, the duty was breached, and that an injury was sustained as a direct result of this breach.
Injuries sustained in Jet Ski accidents can be extensive, regardless of the cause of the accident, given the exposure of riders to risks of danger. Injuries sustained through a collision or from being thrown from the vessel can include:
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Brain and head trauma;
- Amputations; and
Jet Ski/Banana Boat accidents can happen due to any of the following:
- Operator inexperience;
- Operation at high speeds;
- Lack of proper operational and safety training as required by the Florida FWC;
- Operating a vessel or Jet Ski under the influence of alcohol or drugs (BUI, BWI);
- Inattention to the existence of other boaters or swimmers;
- Speeding by Jet Ski operators or other vessel drivers;
- Defective machinery or safety equipment;
- Insufficient or nonexistent navigation lights;
- Restricted vision;
- Hazardous waters or inclement weather;
- Failure by a rental company to provide safety equipment to riders; or
- Negligent or reckless behavior of others.
Jet Ski claims can be more complicated than other boating personal injury cases. Personal watercraft accidents may be subject to limited liability, meaning injured plaintiffs are precluded from filing lawsuits against certain defendants.
Did you sign a waiver of liability?
In some cases, signed waivers can complicate an injured rider’s ability to file a claim against a negligent party for their losses. Personal watercraft renters are almost always required to sign a waiver to free the rental company or vessel owner from accident liability. An individual cannot be forced to sign a waiver; however, their failure to do so may preclude them from renting a recreational item such as a Jet Ski. Waivers, however, do not always bar an accident victim from seeking compensation. If a waiver is signed with the expectation that the rental company will fulfill its duty of care — its obligation to provide a safe riding environment and equipment — and the company fails to do so, a lawsuit may not be precluded. A signed waiver may also be void if a plaintiff proves he/she did not receive adequate pre-rental or pre-ride safety instructions as required by law.
Boating Accident/Boating Injury Compensation
If your claim/case is successful, the party or parties at fault may be required to provide compensation for the following:
- Medical Expenses: Physical injuries sustained in a boating accident may require extensive medical treatment. Compensation may cover past and future hospital bills, rehabilitation, transport services, and other expenses.
- Lost Wages: If you are unable to perform your job as a result of your injury, you may be able to collect compensation to recover the amount you would have made had you not been injured. If the injury is severe enough to require extensive care and leaves you permanently disabled, you may be entitled to compensation for future lost wages.
- Pain and Suffering: While money may not directly help you or your family deal with emotional anguish caused by the accident, it can pay for therapy, which may be needed to help treat the distress.
Gregg S. Harrison, Attorney at Law, PLLC
Greater Houston/Northwest Houston Boating Injury Attorney
Call for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION