Boating is a popular pastime in San Bernardino County. Boaters and swimmers in Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, and Lake Silverwood safely co-exist when everyone follows the rules.
Ignoring safety rules can put others at risk. If you have been injured as a passenger in a watercraft or as a swimmer due to the negligence of another, a Rialto boat accident lawyer could help you get justice and the compensation you deserve. Contact a dedicated attorney to learn more about filing a claim for compensation.
Common Boating Accidents
Boating accidents are usually fueled by alcohol, excessive speeding near others, or ignoring safety rules. For example, the San Bernardino County Codes § 52.0201 designates swimming areas when boaters are on the waterway, and S.B.C.C. § 52.0202 limits the speed boats may travel. Whether they are caused by negligence or not, some of the most common boating accidents are:
- Collisions with other boats, personal watercraft, channel markers, or docks
- Crashing into a swimmer
- Running aground or onto a sandbar, often at excessive speed
- Water-skiing accidents
- Capsizing in poor weather conditions
- Engine fires or explosions on board
Some accidents are just accidents for which nobody can be blamed. However, if blame can be assigned, a boating accident attorney could assess a victim’s situation to make sure all the elements of negligence are met.
When Negligence Causes a Boat Accident
Negligence is a tort-based on the duty of care a boater has to passengers and others sharing the waterway. The duty does not extend past the pool of people who could be harmed by the boater. Thus, a boater on Big Bear Lake does not have a duty of care to another boater on Lake Arrowhead.
The duty is breached if the boater’s actions do not comply with those of a reasonable person in a like situation. If the reckless acts harm someone else, the boater may be found liable and be ordered to compensate the other person.
For example, a boater speeding in a designated swimming area on Big Bear Lake is violating the duty of care twice, by speeding and boating where San Bernardino statutes forbid it. If a swimmer is hit and injured by the boater, the boater’s actions can be said to have caused the accident because, but for the negligent acts, the swimmer would not have been harmed. A boating collision attorney can review medical charts, police reports, and take witness statements to determine if the elements of negligence are met in a client’s boat wreck.
Damages Available in a Boating Accident
Boating accidents often cause catastrophic injuries and even death, especially when a drunk, weekend boater takes the wheel. Drunk boaters are the leading cause of waterway accidents in the country. A victim will be entitled to compensatory damages, both economic and non-economic, and in some cases, punitive damages.
Compensatory damages compensate a victim for financial and personal losses. Economic compensatory damages are measurable, such as lost wages, damaged property, and medical bills. Non-economic damages are not measurable but a subjective review of what a victim faces, such as disfigurement, pain and suffering, loss of the enjoyment of life, and future lost wages.
Punitive damages are separate from compensatory damages and are meant to punish the defendant for despicable, malicious, deceitful, or intentional acts that harmed the plaintiff, according to California Civil Code § 3294.
California does not cap punitive damage awards, but the award must be fair when weighed against the gravity of the act, or the defendant can argue that due process has been violated.
Statute of Limitations for Boating Injury Claims
States limit the amount of time people have to file a lawsuit, including personal injury suits. Too much time weighs on prospective defendants who should not have to worry indefinitely that a lawsuit may be filed against them. Also, evidence is harder to find, and witnesses’ memories are foggier years after an accident. The Statute of Limitations for personal injuries in California is generally two years from the accident date. It is crucial to adhere to filing deadlines because the courts usually deny a claim filed after the limit.
A Rialto Boat Wreck Attorney is Your Advocate
Boating accidents can turn recreational dream days into nightmares filled with pain and medical bills caused by someone else’s negligence.
Call our Rialto office today to schedule your initial consultation with a boat accident lawyer who will advocate to get you justice.