North Carolina Boating Accident Lawyer

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There are over 250 free public boating access points to over 100 bodies of water within North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

A boating accident lawyer in his North Carolina law office.The heat of our southern summers brings residents and visitors to the water every year to enjoy fishing, swimming, boating, and more. North Carolina also boasts 3,375 miles of coastline with the Atlantic Ocean. With many inlets, ports, and rivers, our waterways get a lot of boat traffic.

As fun as boating is, more boats means more potential for accidents.

Many boaters are inexperienced and are not able to handle their watercraft. Some boaters illegally operate their boat while under the influence of alcohol.

There are rules governing how boats are driven on the water, and when people ignore these laws or when they are just blatantly negligent, accidents happen. If you have fallen victim to a North Carolina boating accident due to someone else’s actions, the boating attorneys at Tatum & Atkinson are here to help.

How Will a North Carolina Boating Accident Attorney Help Me?

When someone’s negligent or reckless behavior while operating a boat causes you harm, you may be entitled to seek compensation for the damages you have suffered.

The skilled boating accident lawyers at Tatum & Atkinson know the rules of the water and will take care of all the legal matters involved in your case. They will also answer all your questions, explain the process, give you your options, and stay by your side until your case reaches completion.

What Are Some Common Types of Boats That Experience Accidents?

There are many different types, sizes, and abilities of boats available for use in North Carolina. Boats are often regarded as big toys meant for recreational purposes, but they are still dangerous, and the operators have a duty to protect the safety of their passengers as well as all others who come into close proximity.

Every operator shares in this duty of care, from a single-person kayak to a cruise ship captain. The most common boating accidents typically involve:

  • Jet Skies
  • Pontoon Boats
  • Wave Runners
  • Ski Boats
  • Sail Boats
  • Fishing Boats

Victims of boating accidents include more than just the people in the boats, they can be anyone in or around the water. Some victims are even injured while flying above the boats. Many victims of boating accidents include:

  • Boaters
  • Scuba Divers
  • Snorkelers
  • Water Skiers
  • Wakeboarders
  • Parasailers
  • Swimmers

Who Regulates Boats to Keep People Safe?

There are Wildlife Enforcement Officers in North Carolina’s waterways who look for anyone who may be operating their boats in an unsafe manner. These officers are similar to police on land watching for speeders and other reckless drivers.

Wildlife Enforcement Officers are able to stop a boat for no reason at all in order to perform a safety inspection to make sure emergency equipment, such as the correct number of life jackets, is on board. Additional safety measures include navigation signs in the water, such as speed limits and no wake zones, and license and registration requirements for water vessels.

In North Carolina, all boat operators under 26 years old are required to complete a safety course for boating. This is a fairly recent change to the boating rules, but it is important to make sure that you are compliant with all the regulations.

The rules and safety courses can be found on the North Carolina Wildlife website.

What Are Some Common Types of Boating Accidents?

Watercraft accidents can happen to anyone who uses the water. North Carolina has laws specifically for boaters, and all operators of water vehicles are expected to follow them, but that does not mean that they do.

When someone does not operate their vehicle safely, it puts them, along with everyone else around them, in danger.

For example, if another boat is coming towards yours, the rule is to ease off the throttle, not try to race out of the way or expect them to dodge you. An accident may occur if you do not follow this primary rule of the water.

The most common types of accidents involving boats include the following:

  • Collisions with other watercraft
  • Collisions with fixed objects, such as docks, buoys, or rocks
  • Running aground either onshore or an unexpected shallow section such as a sandbar

What Are the Most Common Causes of Boating Accidents?

Most boating accidents are preventable. Many accidents are caused by inexperience, but there are also a very large number of accidents that happen for inexcusable reasons.

In North Carolina, the most common causes of accidents involving watercraft include:

  • Impaired boating: officially called boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drinking alcohol while operating any type of vehicle is dangerous and illegal, but it is a nationwide problem. Fairly recently, North Carolina passed a new law making boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs a felony if a death or serious injury is caused. This is called Sheyenne’s Law in honor of a teenager who died after being struck by a boat by an impaired driver. Anyone responsible for causing a boating accident while under the influence of alcohol is held liable for all damages that they cause. The type of boat they were operating does not affect their liability either. Their intoxication was a choice, and they are, therefore, held responsible for their actions.
  • Distracted boating: quite possibly the most common cause of accidents on the water, being distracted while operating a vehicle on or off the water is detrimental. Anything that interferes with safe boating is a hazardous distraction, and it is always the vehicle’s operator who is responsible for paying attention to ensure the safety of everyone. Distractions are often other passengers, but can also be the weather, the scenery, or even a fish, for example.
  • Inexperience or improper use of watercraft: most people use boats for recreational purposes. They may not have the necessary knowledge of how the boat works or how it is affected by water conditions. Boats do not have brakes, and waves from a passing boat will make it move, or the wind can change directions. So many things can happen that the operator must be prepared to handle.
  • Speeding: there are many elements that factor into how fast a boat should travel. Some areas have posted speed limits, but there are times when boaters must travel even slower in order to maintain safety. Boat traffic, the presence of swimmers or divers, weather conditions, current, and wind all affect what is considered a safe speed. Speeding any higher than what is safe for the circumstances increases the potential for causing serious harm and collisions.

What Types of Compensation Are Available to Victims of Boating Accidents?

There are several types of compensation available to victims of boating accidents. The circumstances of your accident and injuries will determine the cost of your damages.

Medical Expenses

When you are injured in an accident, you must get medical attention.

Medical bills in the United States are very expensive and add up quickly. They are often the most costly part of the accident.

Your medical bills include transportation by ambulance, emergency department care, hospitalization, diagnostic imaging, surgeries, rehabilitation, therapy, medication, specialized equipment, home care, and more.

Lost Wages

Most people are unable to work while they recover from their injuries. Losing your income is stressful, especially when bills are accumulating. These lost earnings will be included in your claim.

Lost Earning Capacity

Suppose the accident has left you unable to continue your work, or you need to take on a role with a lower salary. In that case, you can also claim this loss as economic damage. If you are no longer able to continue in your profession, your future earning potential will be used to calculate your lost earning capacity.

Property Damage

Your boat and anything else you had with you is your property. Any damage to these items will have to be recovered through payment for repair, replacement, or the reduction of their value.

Pain and Suffering

Serious injuries cause excruciating pain. You deserve to be compensated for your discomfort that was caused by the accident.

Pain is usually short-term and fades as your injuries heal. Unfortunately, sometimes, it becomes chronic and can last for years or even be permanent.

Emotional Distress

Boating accidents are traumatic. Many victims find themselves feeling fearful after an accident.

Serious injury, entrapment, drowning, and fatalities escalate emotional trauma. Some people develop anxiety, depression, phobias, decreased mental capacity, difficulty concentrating, or post-traumatic stress disorder, among other mental anguish-related issues.

The accident itself or the subsequent injuries and disabilities can greatly impact someone’s life.

Diminished Quality of Life or Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Long-term and permanent injuries are a harsh reality for many survivors of boating accidents. Suddenly, becoming unable to do something you love can lead to severe depression.

Loss of autonomy is humiliating and makes people feel like a burden to their families. Even losing the ability to work or earn the same income level as before the accident and then watching your family struggle can be heartbreaking.

These losses can change your personality and outlook on life, and you should be compensated for that.

Loss of Companionship or Consortium

The accident may leave you with injuries or disabilities that change your relationships with your loved ones.

For example, how can you hug your family members if you have become paralyzed or when your arms have been amputated? Perhaps your spouse and children once saw you as strong and dependable, but now you can barely move and are constantly irritable because of your chronic pain.

You can seek compensation for losing the dynamic of these relationships.

Permanent Disabilities, Impairments, or Disfigurements

Permanent injuries quite literally change your life forever. They change the way you live, your relationships, and how others see you.

People may stare at your scars or look at you with pity when they see your disability, leading to frustration, humiliation, and depression. Compensation for any permanent damage is usually substantial.

Wrongful Death

When someone is killed in a boating accident, the personal representative of the victim has the right to file a wrongful death claim against the boat operator at fault on behalf of the family. They would have to prove that their loved one’s death was caused by the negligence of the driver.

The compensation for a wrongful death claim is similar to what the victim would have received had they not died from the accident.

Punitive Damages

Not all accidents warrant punitive damages. They are meant to financially punish the defendant and are reserved for the most reckless of boat operators.

The victim would have to prove that the driver acted with either fraud, malice, or willful and wanton conduct in order to receive punitive damages. North Carolina law prevents awards for punitive damages from exceeding three times the amount of compensatory damages or $250,000, whichever is greater.

The best way to establish the value of your claim for damages is to speak with our experienced personal injury lawyers. It is our business to know what to expect as compensation for your accident.

Call (800) LAW-0804 today so we can discuss the details of your case and get you paid as soon as possible.

Call an Expert North Carolina Boating Accident Law Firm Today

Our team of boating accident lawyers at Tatum & Atkinson are professional and experienced in aggressively fighting for the rights of boat accident victims. We thoroughly investigate the accident as well as the surrounding circumstances to identify every party that shares fault and responsibility for compensating the victim.

We also interview witnesses to ensure no details have been overlooked or brushed aside. Our team diligently studies the evidence and consults with experts to make sure that you are being treated fairly and get appropriate compensation for the damages you have suffered.

Call us as soon as possible after your accident so we can get started before witnesses forget details or evidence begins to disappear. Having our team of personal injury attorneys handle your case gives you peace of mind while you recover and will ensure you get a settlement that meets your needs and restores your losses.

Call (800) LAW-0804 for your free consultation. We do not charge you anything until you get paid, so there is absolutely no risk for you.

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