Boating is one of the most popular leisure activities in California, whether it’s deep sea fishing on the Pacific Ocean, relaxing on Lake Tahoe, or cruising on the Sacramento River. Fishing boats, speedboats, and jet skis are just a few of the favored watercrafts in California. While all these vessels can be incredibly fun, they are also inherently dangerous. Boating accidents can and do happen, and it’s vital for anyone involved in such an accident to know their rights for securing compensation for injuries sustained due to another party’s negligence.
At the Kreeger Law Firm, we believe in aggressive defense of our clients’ rights. Attorney Christopher L. Kreeger is a California native with more than 30 years of experience in the legal field as a personal injury attorney. Our legal team exclusively offers personal injury claim representation to injured plaintiffs in the Roseville and Sacramento, California areas. This focus ensures we have the skill and experience to handle the most complex boating accident cases in the area and can help our clients maximize their recoveries.
Rules of the Water
It’s essential for all California boaters to recognize that, just as motor vehicle operators must follow the traffic laws, boaters must follow the rules and regulations of California’s lakes and waterways. Failure to abide by these rules can lead to all types of damaging accidents, including:
- Drowning injuries and fatalities.
- Slip and fall injuries.
- Fire-related injuries.
It’s easy to see how failure to abide by the rules of California waterways can lead to serious incidents and legal issues. Ultimately, negligence is the root cause of most of the boating accidents that occur in the Sacramento area, and this negligence can take many forms.
Determining Negligence in a Boating Accident Claim
Like any other personal injury claim, a boating accident case will revolve around the legal concept of negligence. For a legal standpoint, negligence is one party’s failure to exercise reasonable care in a given situation. To prove another party’s negligence, the plaintiff in a boating accident claim must first identify the defendant in the claim and establish the duty of care they should have followed. Next, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove the defendant failed to uphold this duty of care in some way.
A few examples commonly seen in boating accident cases include:
- Operating a boat or other watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Failure to maintain safe conditions on the boat, such as repairing known structural damage.
- Failure to keep necessary safety equipment onboard, such as flotation devices, life jackets, and emergency supplies.
- Failure to abide by boating regulations, such as creating wakes in no-wake zones or taking large vessels into waters that are too shallow.
- Manufacturer liability, such as a boat manufacturer’s production of a defective vessel or an equipment manufacturer’s production of defective safety equipment.
This is not an exhaustive list. There are many possible ways a party can absorb liability for a boating accident and the resulting damages.
Possible Damages and Compensation in Boating Accident Claims
Accidents that occur on the water not only include the possibility of damages typical of vehicle accidents, but also water-related injuries like drowning. Depending on how a boating accident occurs, a victim could sustain injuries including bone fractures, traumatic brain injuries, burning injuries, and injuries related to oxygen deprivation from drowning or inhaling toxic fumes.
Like any other personal injury case, a boating accident claim seeks to hold a negligent party responsible for injuries and other damages. The damages available to a plaintiff in a boating accident case could include medical expenses for short-term and long-term treatment of injuries sustained in the accident, including physical therapy and other ongoing rehabilitative treatments. A plaintiff can also secure compensation for lost income if their injuries required them to take time off work. They may even succeed in obtaining compensation for lost future earnings if the boating accident leaves them unable to work again in the future. Plaintiffs in personal injury cases can also claim compensation for their pain and suffering.
In addition to these compensatory damages, California state law also allows plaintiffs in personal injury cases to obtain punitive damages. While these damages are not claimed in the same way as medical expenses, pain and suffering, or lost income, they can still improve a plaintiff’s recovery while also further punishing the defendant for intentionally reckless or willfully harmful behavior. The court will determine if and when punitive damages apply in a boating accident case.
Comparative Negligence in California
Anyone in the Roseville or Sacramento considering the possibility of filing a lawsuit for a boating accident should contact a boating accident lawyer in Sacramento, California as soon as possible. An experienced personal injury attorney can assess the strength of a client’s case and identify any potential issues that might arise, especially those that may lead to questions about comparative negligence.
Under California law, a plaintiff may still secure compensation if they are partially at fault for causing the incident in question in a boating accident case. Unlike other states that follow comparative negligence statutes and restrict plaintiff recovery if they are 50% or more at fault, California has no such limitation under the state’s pure comparative negligence statute. No matter what percentage of fault falls to the plaintiff, they may still recover damages less a percentage equal to their percentage of fault for causing the accident.
Seek Legal Representation as Soon as Possible
Boating accidents can easily lead to expensive damages and long-lasting physical injuries that may leave you unable to work for a long time. A boat accident attorney in Sacramento, California can be a tremendous ally when you need to hold another party accountable for such damages. The Kreeger Law Firm is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation about your boating accident claim in Roseville or Sacramento. Our team will let you know how we can assist in your recovery.