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Alabama Boat Crashes are More Common Than You Think – Here’s What to Do After One Occurs

April 14, 2021

Although we don’t often hear about boat crashes, at least not the way we hear about car crashes, they do happen, and more often than you might think. As a Gulf Coast state, Alabama is situated to have many more boating accidents than land-locked states like Tennessee or Arkansas.

In fact, in 2019, Alabama had the most boating-related deaths it had seen since 1998. Before the summer was even over, 25 people lost their lives in crashes involving a full range of boating circumstances.

Just as car crashes can injure pedestrians on the sidewalk, boat accidents can affect people on shore who are in path of a runaway boat, jet ski, or other watercraft. Again, this isn’t something most people think of while enjoying time on the water. Yet, it’s vital that you know what to do if you or a loved one are injured in an Alabama boating accident.

6 Steps to Take After Being Injured in a Boat Crash

In any boating accident Alabama residents experience, the first step is to ensure everyone is all right or receiving the medical attention they need. Then it will be time to contact insurance companies and attorneys.

If you were on land and injured by a boat, observe these same steps. As an innocent bystander, you are very likely entitled to compensation (assuming you didn’t do anything to encourage the crash).

By law, everyone involved must remain at the scene. Ask witnesses to stay around to speak with law enforcement.

1. Check Everyone’s Safety and Call 911

Check everyone aboard each involved watercraft and anyone on land who was affected. Even if everyone thinks they’re okay, call 911. Certain injuries might not be immediately obvious, such as a concussion. This will also alert law enforcement.

Anyone stranded in the water should already be wearing a life vest, but if they aren’t, try to get them a flotation device or something to hang on to. If possible, get them back on the boat or onto shore.

If the boat ran aground, or entered a swimming area, look for anyone who might be hurt or unconscious, including people who were thrown some distance from the scene.

In some cases, people are injured as they flee the boat, such as our client Karen, who fell and seriously injured her knee as she ran away from a boat that drove onto shore. Karen ended up needing a knee replacement, and the Andy Citrin team helped her secure a settlement of $290,000.

2. Get Boater and Witness Contact Information

Once everyone’s health and safety is addressed, take down the names, contact information, boater registration number, and insurance details of the boat operators. Try to also get names and contacts of any witnesses (including passengers).

3. Document Injuries and Property Damages

Take photos of the boats and where they ended up, which may help show how the accident happened. Also get pictures of damage to the boats, other property, and injuries. Take notes on what you remember happening, including the time and location of the crash.

4. Schedule a Follow-Up with Your Doctor

Even if you were checked out on the scene of the accident and are feeling all right afterward, follow up with your regular doctor. They can check for signs of less obvious problems, from brain injury to bone fractures. Further, the incident will be in your medical records in case a related issue arises later.

Boat drivers, passengers, and those on shore may end up needing surgery, ongoing medical care, physical therapy, medications, and/or mental health support. All of this can figure into your financial compensation.

5. File an Accident Report

Depending on the damages and injuries from the crash, you have one of two deadlines for filing an accident report with the Alabama Marine Patrol:

  • File within 48 hours if someone involved dies within 24 hours of the accident, if someone has disappeared and is presumed dead, or if an injury required more than basic first aid.
  • File within 10 days if someone involved dies more than 24 hours after the accident, if there is more than $2,000 in property damage, or if a vessel is damaged beyond repair or sunk.

6. Contact a Boating Accident Lawyer

Boating accidents are different than car accidents, and it’s in your best interest to work with a personal injury lawyer who’s experienced with crashes on the water. They will know how to deal with complicated issues, such as:

  • Navigating applicable state, federal, and even international laws, which can be complex depending where crashes happen in the water.
  • Uninsured boaters, which happens all too often.
  • Determining who is at fault without evidence like tire marks and traffic cameras. Sometimes, more than one boat driver is at fault.
  • Comparative negligence, which means you can be compensated even if you carry some percentage of fault.

RELATED: A Guide to Alabama Boating and Maritime Law

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys are Experienced in Difficult Boating Cases

The lawyers at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys have handled all kinds of difficult boat crash cases, including Karen’s, whose story of nearly being crushed on shore by a runaway boat we linked to earlier. If you or someone you love has experienced a serious injury or wrongful death in a boat crash, we’re ready to help you get the compensation you deserve.

Don’t hesitate to contact Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys with questions, for help, and to set up a free consultation. Call (251) 888-8888 or use the contact form on our website to get started!

 

References

Robinson, Carol. (2019, July 17). Alabama suffers 25 boating deaths in 2019, the deadliest year on state waters since 1998. AL.com. https://www.al.com/news/birmingham/2019/07/alabama-suffers-25-boating-deaths-in-2019-the-deadliest-year-on-state-waters-since-1998.html

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

 

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