Louisiana’s rivers and lakes are picture-perfect for boating, fishing and water skiing. The state’s waterways are a natural source for recreation and relaxation. Unfortunately, a boating accident can turn a day of fun into a tragedy. As a matter of fact, a boating accident can be as serious as a vehicular accident. The rules of the road for vessels are set forth by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Any violation of the rules of the road is deemed prima-facie evidence of careless or reckless operation. Any operator in a boat collision must stop the vessel at the scene of the incident, render assistance to injured parties and report the accident to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries within five days of the accident.
The Stats on Boating Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seven-tenths of boating accidents are due to motor operator error, and the influence of alcohol accounts for over one-third of all boating fatalities. Incorrect operation, incorrect navigation and drinking while operating a boat all constitute negligence. The use of alcohol or drugs while operating a vessel on water can significantly impair motor skills and judgment. The U.S. Coast Guard advises that alcohol is more hazardous on water than on land. In boats, there are no seat belts or airbags. Even at low speeds, a boating accident can cause injury. According to Lt. Col Sam Martin of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, there were 113 boat collisions with 62 injuries and 19 fatalities in 2015.
There are a broad range of injuries associated with boating accidents, including fractured bones, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injury (TBI). While fractured bones are more easily recoverable than spinal cord and TBI injuries, these injuries can cause pain that may last well beyond healing. The recovery period can be both costly and lengthy. And lingering complications can keep the injured party from working and enjoying life. Sometimes, an injured party with a fracture may become permanently disabled.
Depending on the severity, spinal cord injuries can have a significant and long-lasting impact. Spinal cord injuries can result in permanent or temporary paralysis affecting sensory and movement capabilities. There is often a lengthy rehabilitation with temporary paralysis. Beyond rehabilitation and hospitalization, victims may not be able to return to their previous occupation. Permanent paralysis often requires assistive technology and home modifications to allow participation in daily activities. All around, spinal cord injuries can be emotionally devastating.
Boat collisions, impact from hitting the water or striking one’s head on the boat can all result in TBI. Severe cases of TBI can leave victims with substantial physical and cognitive disabilities. Often, specialized treatment and assistance are required. Boating-related fatalities often leave loved ones emotionally and psychologically scarred. Survivors may also be faced with unexpected costs and a loss of income of the deceased.
Establishing Negligence in Boating Accidents
If another boater acted negligently and caused injury to you or a loved one, you are entitled to damages. Damages may include pain and suffering, lost earnings and medical expenses. However, negligence must be established. Negligence is the failure to act with reasonable care. In a boat collision, it must be proved that the boat operator did not implement safe boating practices. If the boat hits a big wake and passengers are thrown out, liability is dependent on circumstances, such as the boat’s speed, size of the wake and visibility. There are times when boats can hit a jetty, submerged object or rocks. Grounds for negligence in these circumstances include operating without charts or a GPS or going fast in a dense fog. The lack of proper safety equipment on board can also establish negligence. Safety equipment includes items like life jackets, anchor lights, whistles and flares.
For those that have suffered damages due to the negligence of another person, justice can be sought in the form of a personal injury claim. Personal injury claims are the method in which a person seeks compensation for their injuries, including medical costs, ongoing treatment, lost wages, loss of work capacity, pain and suffering. For victims who face the overwhelming costs incurred from boating accidents, this compensation can have a big impact on the ability to cope with the fallout from a serious injury. While in the legislature, Chris Roy, Jr. was instrumental in passing laws to protect boaters and to hold those negligent boat operators responsible for their conduct.
If you or a loved one is injured while boating, turn to the experienced personal injury attorney, Chris Roy Jr, to learn your legal rights. Selecting the right attorney can mean the difference between failure and success. Call 800-259-9850 and schedule your free confidential consultation today.
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