El Centro Boat Accident Lawyer

With one of the longest coastlines in the United States, California sees residents and tourists entertain themselves on the water. Boaters observe marine ecosystems, participate in water sports, and boost tourism and recreation.

But boating accidents can derail water activities and endanger life and limb, and an accident on the water can pose complex legal questions. When you suffer an injury in a watercraft collision, an El Centro boat accident lawyer could provide crucial expertise on what law applies and on what boat operators must do to provide water services. Call one of our dedicated personal injury attorneys to get started on your case.

What Law Applies to a Boating Accident?

Usually, state injury law governs accidents and the remedies for an injured person. A typical fender-bender gets resolved under state law. Boating accidents, however, can end up in federal court, because Article III Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives federal courts jurisdiction over “cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction.” Disputes and accidents occurring in navigable waters can sometimes fall under federal jurisdiction as a result.

Even so, some lawsuits can still land in state court, such as a personal lawsuit against a boat’s owner. A boat wreck attorney could clarify where a lawsuit should begin, depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the accident in El Centro.

Causes of Boating Collisions, Liability, and Operator Requirements

Unlike more common accidents and injuries—such as car crashes or defective products—boating crashes can have different contributing factors. Weather conditions and water hazards can affect a boat beyond the operator, which can complicate the task of determining responsibility for an accident.

Causes of Accidents

Many different factors can cause a boating accident, some based on the actions of the boat’s operator and some beyond their reach. Some causes include:

  • Failure of a lookout
  • Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Operator error or inexperience—distracted driving, speeding, and ignoring navigation rules
  • Weather conditions and hazardous conditions—storms, wrecks, coral reefs, and other obstructions

An accident could also include a slip-and-fall or an electrocution on board a boat, as opposed to a boat crashing or capsizing.

Liability: Negligence

An injured person can pursue compensation through a claim for damages, which usually happens by claiming that the responsible party acted with negligence. A plaintiff proves negligence by showing that the responsible party had a legal duty, breached that duty, caused the injury, and the injury caused damage.

For a boating accident, negligence might look like a boat operator having a duty to drive their boat safely by following navigation rules and their training, breaching that duty through driving under the influence, causing a boat collision, which injures the person and creates damages.

Because federal admiralty or maritime law can apply to a boating accident, specific rules for negligence, damages, and the timeframe for filing a claim could vary. For example, California Civil Procedure Code §335.1 creates a general two-year statute of limitations for injury claims, but the federal statute 46 USC 30106 establishes a three-year window. An attorney could explain negligence further and review the details of the boat collision to determine whether there is evidence of negligence.

Operator Licensing and Safety Requirements

Boat operators must meet state and federal requirements to operate vessels. Operators must pass a boating education exam and receive a license in the form of a boater card. The Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971 requires operators to carry certain safety equipment as prescribed and approved by the Coast Guard. When an operator does not comply with these kinds of requirements, their actions could contribute to a claim of negligence.

Sorting out the cause of a boating accident in El Centro, if a boat operator was negligent, and if an operator properly maintained and operated their vessel requires an attorney familiar with state and federal requirements.

Speak With An El Centro Boating Accident Attorney to Learn More

A boating accident can cause severe injuries and property damage and can pose unique legal issues when trying to hold someone responsible. Dangerous weather can come into play, and the specifics of legally running a vessel can also factor into a given accident.

When a boating accident caused you harm, or if you want to learn more about injuries on the water, an El Centro boating accident lawyer could talk you through the interplay of state and federal boating law and regulations. Call one of our skilled attorneys to get answers to your questions and review your case.

Walter Clark Legal Group

Walter Clark Legal Group
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