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Los Angeles Boating Accident Attorney

In sunny California, boating is a year-round activity. With around 100,000 boats registered in LA County alone, it’s safe to say that Southern California residents love to take advantage of the state’s excellent weather and beautiful waterways. California is also a popular vacation destination. People from all across the world visit the Golden State to soak up some sun while cruising in the Pacific Ocean, a serene lake, or a picturesque river.

Unfortunately, the high levels of boat activity in California come coupled with an increased level of boating accidents. Boating accidents can be caused by intoxicated boat drivers, capsizing, mechanical malfunctions, and numerous other issues. When a boating accident occurs, it can leave a path of destruction in its wake, causing serious injury and even death. But if you or a loved one has been harmed in a boating accident due to the negligent or malicious actions of another party, you may be entitled to compensation under California’s personal injury laws.

If you or a loved one has been harmed in a boating accident, contact LA Lawyers Group to receive a free case evaluation from one of our expert boat accident lawyers. Our team has helped boat accident victims recover compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and more. Reach out today to learn how our knowledgeable, dedicated boating accident attorneys can help you.
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Can You Sue For a Boating Accident Injury in California?

Under California law, anyone who is injured in a boating accident due to the actions of another party may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit. In California, an injury victim may be entitled to damages if their injuries were caused by negligence or malice, or by a defective product. California law allows injury victims to hold guilty parties responsible for the losses caused by their harmful actions.

Who Can You Sue After a Boating Accident?

Anyone who may be responsible for causing a boating accident could be named as a defendant in a personal injury case. Some examples of possible defendants in a boating accident case include: 

  • A Boat Owner
  • A Boat Passenger
  • A Boat Operator 
  • A Boat Rental Company
  • A Maintenance Company
  • A Boat Manufacturer 
  • A Boat Designer
  • A Boat Seller
  • A Lifeguard
Types of Boating Accidents

The expert boating accident attorneys at LA Lawyers Group understand how traumatic a boating accident may be. Our attorneys also have a full understanding of what needs to be considered in each unique type of boating accident case. Our injury lawyers can help victims who have been involved in a variety of boating accidents, including: 

  • Boating Accidents Involving Intoxication
  • Boating Accidents Caused by Speeding
  • Capsizing
  • Propeller Accidents
  • Boating Accidents Involving Regulation Violations
  • Ejection from a Boat 
  • Boating Accidents Caused by Equipment Problems
  • Jet Ski and WaveRunner Accidents
  • Boating Accidents Involving Operator Inattention
  • Slip and Fall Accidents
  • Boating Accidents Involving Brain Injuries 
  • Boat Crashes
  • Boating Accidents Caused by Operator Inexperience
  • And More
Proving Liability in a California Boating Accident Case

Typically, liability in a California boating accident case will fall under one of two legal doctrines: pure comparative negligence or strict liability. 

Pure comparative negligence would come in to play in cases where a person’s negligence caused an accident that led to a victim’s injury. For example, if a reckless boat operator crashes their boat because they were boating at an excessive speed, this would be due to negligent behavior. In this case, the boat operator may be held liable by injuries caused by their actions if an injury victim can prove negligence. 

To prove negligence in California, you must show that: 

  1. The defendant owed the injury victim a duty of care (a duty to provide reasonable care to prevent harm). 
  2. The defendant failed to provide the injury victim with a duty of care. 
  3. The defendant’s failure to provide a duty of care caused the injury victim’s losses.

Because California is a pure comparative negligence state, more than one party can be found liable for an accident that occurs in California. If more than one party is found liable, fault for the accident will be assigned in percentages. In the event that an accident victim’s injuries were caused by more than one party’s actions, the victim would need to prove both negligence and how much each party’s negligence factored into the accident that caused their injuries. 

Strict liability applies to a California boating accident when a defective product caused the accident. California has extremely strict consumer protection laws. Per California law, if a defective product causes an injury, parties that were involved in the making, distribution, or sale of that product can be held strictly liable for an injury victim’s losses. Defendants in a product liability case could include parts manufacturers, product manufacturers, designers, distributors, and retailers. 

If a defective product causes a boat accident, a victim would not need to prove negligence in order to pursue damages. They would only need to prove that:

  1. That the defendant designed, manufactured, distributed, or sold a defective product. 
  2. The defective product was defective when it left the defendant’s possession. 
  3. The injury victim used the product in a reasonable manner. 
  4. The injury victim suffered harm due to the product’s defect. 
The circumstances involved in train accidents can be extremely complex. A train accident may have a single cause or it may be the result of a series of interlinking circumstances. Additionally, in California, multiple parties can be held liable for an accident, so it’s important to investigate and evaluate every possible element that may have contributed to an accident. To recover damages, an injury victim generally must prove that a defendant was involved in an accident, that the actions of the defendant make them legally responsible for an accident, that the victim has injuries that were caused by the accident, that the damages being sought are related to the victim’s injuries, and that the defendant was responsible for a certain portion of the accident and therefore also for a certain portion of the victim’s losses.

Every train accident comes with its own unique set of circumstances that must be thoroughly investigated, so who a victim can sue after being injured in a train accident will vary from case to case. Some examples of parties that could potentially be liable for a train accident include:
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California Boating Laws
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When a boat owner or operator ignores the basic rules of the road and this negligence leads to an accident, they could be found liable for damages caused by the accident. In California, boat owners and operators need to be mindful of following both state and federal boating laws..

When a craft is in the navigable waters of the State of California, it’s subject to California laws. California law prohibits negligent or reckless watercraft operation that could endanger another party and/or another party’s property. California also has many specific laws governing boating activity, including speed limits, laws against riding on a bow or gunwale, laws operating a boat with unsafe conditions, and laws against boating through areas used by swimmers. As of 2020, California also has a new law that requires all boaters 35 years of age or younger to carry a California Boater Card. By 2025, all boaters (regardless of age) must obtain a California Boater Card.

At a federal level, there are various laws and regulations for public and private vessels of the United States that govern passage through harbors, rivers, and inland waters. For example, per federal law, watercraft vessels must be equipped with Coast guard approved safety devices, including visual distress signals, fire extinguishers, sound alert devices, flame arrestors, gas ventilation devices, and personal floatation devices such as life jackets.

Note that boating laws apply to many types of water vehicles, whether they are small or large, or for business or for recreation. Some examples of vessels that must adhere to boating laws include speedboats, cabin cruisers, cruise ships, outboards, houseboats, steam yachts, sailing yachts, sailboats, catamarans, rowboats, canoes, and jet skis. Certain boating laws may apply differently depending on the size or type of vehicle. For example, a jet ski may not need to have the same types of safety devices as a motorboat would. In general, however, know that boating laws apply to many types of water vehicles and that it is the owner or operator’s duty to know which laws specifically apply to their vessel usage.

Can You Sue if You Were Injured While Drunk on a Boat?

As long as they were not fully at fault, a victim who was drunk at the time they were harmed in a boating accident may be entitled to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Being intoxicated does not necessarily indicate fault in an accident case. For example, say a drunk boat operator drives a boat recklessly, causing a drunk passenger to fall and become seriously injured. The drunk boat operator is negligent in this instance, since they are operating a boat while intoxicated and they are driving recklessly. However, if the drunk passenger may or may not have any share of fault in this instance-- it depends on the unique circumstance of the accident.

Note that because California is a comparative negligence state, an accident victim can still recover losses even if they are partially at fault for their accident. If, in our previous example, the drunk passenger was found to be 30% responsible for their injuries, they could still recover damages. These damages would just be reduced by 30%.

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Damages Available in a California Boating Accident Injury Case
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In California, boating accident cases typically fall under personal injury law, which allows victims to recover a variety of damages that were caused by their unique losses. Boating accident victims may be entitled to three types of damages available to personal injury victims: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. In the event that an accident victim dies due to their accident, the victim’s family will generally not be able to recover damages through a personal injury claim or lawsuit. However, they may be able to recover damages by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Economic Damages Available in a Boating Accident

Economic damages cover the measurable financial losses experienced due to an injury or accident. Some examples of economic damages that may be available to a boat accident victim include: 

  • Past and Future Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages
  • Lost Earning Capacity 
  • Property Damage
Non-Economic Damages Available in a Boating Accident

Non-economic damages are designed to compensate a plaintiff for their intangible, non-economic losses. Some examples of non-economic damages that may be available to a boating accident victim include: 

  • Emotional Distress 
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life 
  • Loss of Consortium
Punitive Damages and Boating Accidents
In rare instances, a judge may award punitive damages in a boating accident case. Punitive damages are a type of compensation that’s awarded to victims as a bonus on top of their other damages, like their economic and non-economic damages. Punitive damages are considered a punishment and they’re given only when a defendant’s behavior is found to be especially egregious. If a plaintiff has proven that a defendant acted with “oppression, fraud, or malice,” a judge may award the plaintiff punitive damages.
Damages Related to Wrongful Death and Boating Accidents

If a person dies due to a boating accident, their family may be able to hold a guilty party accountable by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. California’s wrongful death laws allow plaintiffs to recover any “just” damages, which means that the damages in a wrongful death case may vary widely depending on the situation. Some examples of damages that may be recovered through a wrongful death case include compensation for: 

  • Funeral and Burial Expenses
  • The Financial Support the Decedent Would Have Contributed Over Their Lifetime
  • The Value of Household Services the Decedent Would Have Provided
  • Loss of Gifts or Benefits 
  • Loss of Affection
  • Loss of Moral Support
  • Loss of Society and Companionship 
  • Loss of Training and Guidance
  • Loss of Sexual Relations
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Get Help From a Los Angeles Boating Accident Lawyer
The Los Angeles boat accident attorneys at LA Lawyers Group are dedicated to fighting for the rights of victims who have been injured due to the negligence of another party. If you or a loved one has been injured in a watercraft accident, contact our law firm today to receive a free case evaluation. Our expert personal injury attorneys have helped boating accident victims recover damages for their past and future medical bills, emotional distress, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Call LA Lawyers Group today at (213) LAWYERS (529-9377) to receive your free consultation with one of our Los Angeles boat accident lawyers.
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