Summer Means Higher Risk of Serious Boating Accidents | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

During the summer months, the Outer Banks area (e.g., Nags Head, Corolla, Duck, Kill Devil Hills, etc.) is typically inundated with tourists seeking fun in the sun around the beach. They also engage in water activities like boating, jet ski rides, etc. This means there is a higher probability that people suffer injuries while engaged in these types of water activities in the OBX. If you or a family member was seriously hurt in boating accident, take action and call our office to schedule a free case review. 

Elements of a Boating Accident Claim

Boating accident claims have some basic elements.  It is safe to presume an operator of a powered vehicle on the water has a duty to use reasonable care in the operation of the vessel similar to that of a driver of an automobile.  Injuries arising from an operator’s intoxication, excessive speed, failure to follow navigational markers or respond to other hazard or danger warnings, typically result in claims against the operator of the vessel. This is a civil claim that allows you, the injured party, to seek financial restitution for your harms and losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. A difference between land-based and water-based activities arises when the water activities occur in navigable waters.  Boating accidents on navigable waters may fall under admiralty or maritime federal law.  These laws may come into play in common situations such as fishing, recreational boating, jet ski accidents, as well as many other types of water-related activities.  Any body of water that is, or has been, used for interstate commerce, or is capable of being used in interstate commerce qualifies as a navigable water.  States typically maintain maps of navigable waters as does the United States Coast Guard. For an injury to qualify as a maritime law injury, the injury must share a nexus with traditional maritime activities and a potentially disruptive impact on maritime commerce.  Collisions involving commercial and recreational boats may fall under maritime law.  See Foremost Insurance Company v. Richardson, 457 U.S. 688 (1982).

Where Boating Accident Cases Can Be Litigated

Maritime cases may be filed in federal or state courts.  A federal maritime case is heard by a judge, not a jury.  The laws involved in maritime claims are complex.  Most boating accidents require a report to the Coast Guard or the state agency regulating boats.  Failure to remain on the scene, render aid and timely report the boating accident is a crime.  Reports of accidents should be made to the owner/operator’s insurance company as well as the governmental entities referred to above.  Due to the changing scene usually found in boating accidents, an effort should be made to photograph all vessels involved in an incident as well as the scene as quickly as possible.