Much like cars and trucks, boats require routine maintenance. If they contain defective or worn-out parts, the entire vessel could malfunction. The operator could end up losing control and crash into another boat, a dock, or someone swimming in the water. This could result in severe injuries and fatalities.
At Loewy Law Firm, our experienced Austin boating accident attorneys are ready to be your advocate during this traumatic time in your life. You can depend on us to fight by your side for the justice and compensation you deserve. Learn about the available legal options and how we can help you after a boat accident by calling (512) 280-0800 today for a free consultation.
The Importance of Maintaining a Boat
Maintenance is necessary for the safe operation of a boat. It’s not enough for the owner to visually inspect the watercraft and its parts every once in a while. Proper upkeep of a boat requires a thorough inspection before or after each use. Parts could become worn out, damaged, or even fall off. If the owner isn’t checking for problems after each outing, an undiscovered hazard could prevent the boat from running as usual.
Boat maintenance doesn’t only include mechanical aspects. Owners should also keep their vessels clean. Allowing saltwater, dirt, and other materials to build up on the exterior can lead to discoloration or cause the paint to chip.
Some of the most crucial parts involved in adequate boat maintenance include:
- Electrical lines
- Oil and filter
- Bilge pump
Maintenance also involves repairs. Owners should replace recalled parts immediately. Additionally, they should fix damage or defects promptly after discovering them. Operating a boat with defective parts prevents it from working as it should. The engine could stall, stranding the occupants in the middle of the ocean. A faulty electrical wire could spark a fire onboard. A blown-out light can’t alert others to the boat’s presence at night. Any hazard on the vessel could lead to a dangerous accident, injuring everyone involved.
How Inadequate Maintenance Causes Boat Accidents
A poorly maintained boat is a danger to the operator and their passengers. Various scenarios could place everyone at risk of serious harm.
The most common types of boat accidents include:
- Onboard fires
- Collisions with other vessels
- Taking on water resulting in flooding or sinking
- Crashing into the dock, a sandbar, or another stationary object
- Slipping and falling on the boat
- Running ashore
Multiple parts and systems must work together to keep the boat running. Malfunctioning parts and equipment on vessels prevent the operator from navigating through the water safely. If the brake doesn’t work, the operator can’t avoid crashing into land or a dock. If the steering system fails, the operator can’t swerve away from a swimmer or an approaching vessel.
Any of these accidents can result from a poorly maintained boat. If you believe the dangerous condition of the boat caused your injuries, you should seek immediate legal action. A qualified attorney could help you pursue the compensation you need to cover your treatment and other costs.
Injuries Caused by Inadequate Maintenance Accidents
Multiple injuries can occur during a boat accident. Some are mild, requiring minimal medical intervention. Others are severe and even life-threatening. Emergency medical care is often necessary to prevent complications from developing.
Boat accident victims could become disabled or suffer long-term problems. Unfortunately, the cost of ongoing treatment can become a significant expense. If you can’t afford to pay these bills, you could face financial challenges. The economic burdens faced by most people recovering from severe injuries often lead to crushing debt.
The most common injuries sustained in boat accidents include:
- Lacerations and burns
- Concussion or traumatic brain injury
- Broken bones
- Pulled or strained muscles
- Torn ligaments, muscles, and tissue
- Accidental limb amputation
- Spinal cord damage
- Electrical shock
- Smoke or water inhalation
- Internal bleeding
Even if your physical injuries heal, you could develop mental illness or severe emotional trauma from the incident. Many people suffer anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder after boat accidents. Others end up with depression if a permanent injury leaves them disfigured or causes significant scarring.
The negligent operator, maintenance company, or another party responsible for maintaining the boat should be liable for your injuries and resulting losses. If they were entirely at fault, they should provide the compensation you’re owed to cover necessary treatment and other expenses associated with the accident.
Compensation for a Boat Accident
State laws do not require boat operators to purchase liability insurance for accidents leading to someone else’s injuries and property damage, although some boat owners do buy insurance. Unfortunately, that means you might not have many options for seeking compensation from the at-fault owner.
However, you could file a lawsuit. The compensation you receive should compensate for the multiple losses suffered from the accident, including:
- Medical expenses
- Damaged personal property
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
- Loss of household services
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
If the jury determines you were partially at fault for the boat accident, they could reduce your compensation. Proportionate responsibility diminishes a plaintiff’s monetary losses by their percentage of shared fault. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in losses, but the jury discovers you were 20 percent responsible for your injury, you would only be allowed to receive up to $80,000. The statute prohibits a financial recovery if the plaintiff is more than 50 percent at fault.
You could also seek exemplary damages. This is a form of punishment against the negligent party instead of compensation for the victim’s losses. You won’t receive this financial award unless you can provide clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s malice, gross negligence, or fraud.
How Loewy Law Firm Could Help
If inadequate maintenance of a boat caused your injuries in an accident, do not hesitate to contact an attorney from Loewy Law Firm. You can meet with us during a free consultation to discuss the circumstances and learn about the available legal options.
We will remain in your corner until the end to aggressively pursue the compensation you deserve and get you on the road to recovery.
Call us right now at (512) 280-0800 or reach out to us online.