Whether you need criminal defense or representation for a personal injury claim, our team, lead by Chris Crawford, will fight 24/7 to guarantee that your rights are protected. These trial results should inspire confidence.
Pensacola Boating Accidents Lawyer
Legal Assistance for Boat Injury Victims
The Sunshine State is synonymous with boating. With our year-round sunshine, accessibility to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, and a plethora of inland water bodies, it's not surprising that boating is a popular recreational activity. However, this also means that boating accidents are frequent, and they often lead to severe injuries or fatalities. Our Pensacola boating accidents lawyer is here to help injured plaintiffs fight for the settlement they deserve.
Call Crawford Law at (850) 220-2098 or contact us online.
Proving Negligence in Boat Accident Cases
Boat accidents are like other personal injury cases in that the burden lies on the plaintiff’s Pensacola boating accidents attorney to demonstrate the defendant was negligent.
Negligence consists of four elements:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
Here’s how these four elements might apply in cases where there was a boating accident:
Duty of Care
This simply means that the defendant had a legal responsibility towards the plaintiff. Establishing the defendant's duty of care is often simple in a boating accident. Anyone who undertakes boating activity owes a duty of care to others on the water.
Breach of Duty
The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant breached their duty of care.
For instance, operating a boat while intoxicated is a clear example of breaching duty. Although boaters are permitted to consume alcohol in Florida, the same laws that apply to drivers on the road also apply to boaters. A blood alcohol level of 0.08% or above is considered legally intoxicated.
Another instance can be taking the boat into an unsafe location. Slip and fall accidents, such as falling overboard or drowning, are prevalent boating accidents. If a boat operator knowingly ventures their boat into rough waters, they may be held liable for breaching their duty of care to passengers. The same applies to dangerous weather conditions, such as taking a boat out during a storm or in unsafe conditions.
Even if there was no direct contact between boats, the wave that a boat generates can make a boat operator accountable for another vessel's incident. The determination of liability in this circumstance is influenced by whether the boat was brought into a "no wake zone" that is enforced in Florida waters.
Marinas are obligated to lease their boats to renters who will use them safely. Providing a vessel to someone without their Boating Safety Education Identification Card could be seen as a dereliction of duty. Similarly, renting a boat to an obviously drunk person is a breach of duty.
When evaluating a breach of duty, the court will consider how a rational person would have reacted under comparable situations.
The defendant’s breach of duty must be the actual cause of the boating accident. For example, suppose a boat operator enters turbulent waters, and the court ultimately determines that this behavior constitutes negligence that a reasonable person would not engage in.
But what if the injured plaintiff was significantly intoxicated and disregarded warnings from both the operator and passengers to stay away from the railing? The defense may argue that even if the boat operator was negligent in entering this rough area, that action was not the cause of the accident — the plaintiff's negligence was.
Finally, the plaintiff’s Pensacola boating accidents lawyer must prove that damages were suffered as a consequence of all the above. Medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other factors are all examples of damages in a personal injury case.
In many boating accidents that result in severe injuries or fatalities, damages are typically self-evident. However, there are situations where proving damages could be challenging.
For example, if someone falls off a boat that was operated recklessly but does not have any physical injuries after being pulled back onboard, proving damages can be difficult.
Another instance where damages may be disputed is when the plaintiff had pre-existing physical problems. Suppose the plaintiff was water-skiing, and the defendant negligently took the boat into rough waters, leading to back injuries, but the plaintiff's back problem is documented in prior medical records. In that case, the defendant may argue that their mistake as the boat operator did not cause these damages.
The Legal Experience You Need
Securing a fair settlement in a boat accident lawsuit calls for legal counsel that is diligent in its investigation and pays attention to detail. A lawyer must be aggressive in their approach to negotiations with the defendant’s insurance carrier and willing to go to trial if necessary. If litigation should come, the attorney must have a demonstrated track record of being able to sway a jury to the plaintiff’s side.
When injured people come to Crawford Law, they can feel confident that they’ve found the kind of legal help they need.
Call our office at (850) 220-2098 or contact us online today to set up a consultation.
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