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boat accident lawsuits in new york

Boating accident attorneys represent victims who have been injured in boating accidents caused by negligence. Boating accident lawyers must specialize in the complexities of local boating laws and federal regulations that govern the waterways. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident caused by negligence, you can schedule a free consultation with a boat accident attorney by calling 855-468-7626, or contact them online here.

Boat Accident Lawsuits in New York

When a person becomes injured due to the negligence of a boat owner or operator, they may want to hold him or her liable for the injuries and damages incurred. This is possible through filing a personal injury lawsuit.

Statute of Limitations for Boating Accidents in NY

The statute of limitations on injuries caused by boating accidents in New York is three years from the date of the accident. If the accident resulted in the death of a loved one (such as a wrongful death case), a claim must be filed within two years of the accident. 

What Types of Negligence Can Lead to Boating Accidents?

The following are common examples of negligence that cause boating accidents. Victims may have grounds for a lawsuit if any of the following are discovered to have caused a boating injury:

  • The boat or watercraft driver was not properly trained or instructed for operating the craft
  • A collision occurred with other boats or crafts because of inattentiveness, drowsiness, etc.
  • The driver exceeded the speed limits
  • The driver was intoxicated or on drugs
  • Insufficient navigation lights, or lack thereof
  • The driver failed to provide life jackets and other basic water safety equipment to passengers
  • The craft occupancy exceeded the recommended number of passengers

Negligence refers to the action or inaction that fails to reflect the level of reasonable care a sensible person should exercise in that circumstance. Careless or irresponsible actions are typically considered negligent in a legal sense, as are reckless actions that result in injury. The willful disregard for safety and intentionally ignoring safety guidelines is also considered neglectful from a legal perspective. 

Compensation for NY Boat Accident Victims

Each case’s specific details and the severity of an injury will determine how much compensation someone is entitled to. Boat accident settlements values are affected by the following:

  • Medical bills and expenses for past, current, and future treatments, or rehabilitation services
  • Lost wages due to missed time or the inability to work, including any loss of future earning if the injury leaves a victim permanently disabled and/or unable to find consistent work
  • Punitive damages are awarded in more extreme cases where the injury was caused by someone’s extreme recklessness or with malicious intent
  • Medical bills and expenses for past and future treatments or rehabilitation services
  • Lost wages due to missed time or the inability to work, included any loss of future earning if the injury leaves a victim permanently disabled and unable to find consistent work
  • Pain and suffering cover non-economic damages endured from physical pain and emotional suffering 
  • Punitive damages are awarded in more extreme cases where the injury was caused by someone’s recklessness or with malicious intent

Most Common Boating Injuries Eligible for Accident Lawsuits 

The following are some of the most common types of injuries that lead victims to file a boating accident lawsuits for in New York:

  • Brain/Head Trauma: Brain damage can occur from lack of oxygen when a person is submerged underwater or exposed to carbon monoxide. Head trauma can also occur after impact with a fixed object during a collision. Trauma is the cause of 20% of boating fatalities since 2005. 
  • Lacerations and Abrasions: A person swimming or diving can be struck by a boat’s propeller blade or other machinery, causing serious lacerations or abrasions. Infections can occur from these injuries, or, in worst cases, amputation of an arm or leg may be necessary.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Injuries (such as paralysis) can be the result of severe impact or spinal compression. Compression can occur when a boat bounces on the water from inclement conditions. 
  • Whiplash: A sudden impact can force a passenger’s head and body to violently thrust forward and backward. Whiplash injuries can occur on a boat very similarly to how they occur in car accidents.
  • Electrocution: Failing to properly maintain electrical systems and appliances can result in electrocution or electrical burns. Standing water on a boat increases the risk of electrocution as well.
  • Drowning: 70% of all boat-related fatalities are caused by drowning. A person can be pulled under the water or suffer head trauma before falling into the water and be unable to surface for air. 

New York Boating Accident Settlement Values

The following are examples of boating accident settlements won in New York:

  • $42,500 settlement for a passenger who suffered scalp lacerations and ear and neck injuries from falling downstairs after a ferry in Brooklyn experienced a mechanical issue and collided with a pier.
  • $80,000 settlement for a passenger a boat operator drove the vessel into a wave at high speed on the Long Island Sound, causing the victim to fall out of their seat and suffer trauma to the knee.
  • $700,000 settlement for a victim of a traumatic brain injury sustained as the passenger of a boat with an inexperienced driver. The operator collided the boat with a concrete structure near the shore of the Hudson River in Dutchess County. 
  • $3 million wrongful settlement on behalf of a victim who died from severe chest and head trauma after being towed behind a boat in an innertube. The innertube struck a bulkhead due to driver inattention and the impact caused fatal injuries.

*Sobo & Sobo does not cite actual settlement values for our clients’ cases, even anonymously, for reasons of privacy. From time to time, we may include publicly available individual case histories and ranges of general US settlement values that are published by reliable sources. These, however, should not be interpreted as representing Sobo & Sobo cases or suggest future outcomes at Sobo & Sobo.

How a Boat Accident Attorney Can Help

Successfully litigating a boating accident case requires proof that a boat operator behaved negligently. Boating accidents are similar to automobile accidents; however, boat accident injuries fall under complex maritime law. Boats leave no skid marks or physical evidence of their path, which make it difficult to determine the actual events and who is the negligent party. 

The boat accident lawyers at Sobo & Sobo can help victims navigate the personal injury claim process and gather required information about the boating accident injury. The attorneys can be expected to:

  • Review medical records and determine the severity of injuries
  • Contact, interview, and document witnesses to the accident
  • Investigate the background and driving history of the boat operator and potential cause of the accident
  • Visit the scene of the accident and take photographs/video, gather testimony, and collect any available evidence
  • Enter negotiations with insurance companies on the victim’s behalf to ensure a fair settlement offer

New York State Boating Accident Statistics

The most recent Annual Recreational Boating Report shows the following injury statistics regarding boating accidents in 2020:

  • 240 total accidents took place
  • 127 injuries were reported
  • 127 injuries were reported
  • 56% of all accidents are due to collisions between two or more vessels 
  • Most accidents and fatalities occur in the month of July
  • When considered against the number of registered boats, New York’s fatality rate measures 3.45 deaths per each 100,000 watercrafts 
  • Most boating deaths involve smaller boats (less than 21 feet in length)

A person could suffer severe injuries or even death when a driver operates his or her vessel negligently. Hiring a boat accident attorney to help file a personal injury claim will help maximize financial compensation for damages.

What to Do If You Are in a Boating Accident in Which Someone is Injured

There are steps one should take to ensure his or her safety following a boating accident and to help protect their rights. 

  1. Report the accident. Depending on where the accident occurs, the operator of a boat or other vessel may be required to report the accident to local law enforcement authorities such as the New York State Police Marine Detail and/or the U.S. Coast Guard.
  2. Take pictures to document the accident. Capture any relevant photos of the accident, such as: damage to the vessel and any fixed objects involved in the accident, any equipment or materials involved, any injuries that were sustained, and the lighting, weather, and water conditions at the time of the accident.
  3. Seek medical attention. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible and preserve all documentation of injuries and treatment. Prompt medical treatment will improve the prognosis and timeline of recovery for injuries, while also allowing the victim to prove that injuries were caused by the boating accident and not another cause.
  4. Hire an experienced attorney to complete all necessary filing and paperwork while protecting the victim’s rights. An experienced boating accident attorney in New York will help the victim understand the merits of their claim and help successfully pursue a claim for compensation.

Most Common Causes of Boating Injuries in New York

Between 2005-2019, 92% of all boating-related death victims were not wearing a personal floatation device (like a lifejacket). It’s impossible to tell how many people could have been saved if they were wearing a lifejacket, but the potential consequences of not wearing one are obvious. 

Unanticipated cold water also has an impact during the early and late boating seasons. There are fewer accidents reported during the cold weather months, but a higher percentage of them result in death. Some of the other most common factors in boat accidents include:

  • BUI (Boating Under the Influence): Between 2005 and 2019, alcohol and drug use were identified as the primary contributing factor in 69 fatalities, 22.4% of all boating deaths. In 2019, drugs or alcohol were present in four of the 15 fatalities (26.6%). Illicit substances can impair judgment and reaction time. Alcohol can also cause blood vessels to dilate and lose heat, leading to an increased risk of hypothermia when exposed to the cold. 
  • Operator Inattention and Inexperience: When novice boaters encounter unfamiliar or dangerous conditions, they sometimes panic and make errors in judgment. In 2019, 70 injuries were attributed to operator error. 
  • Carbon Monoxide: Boat engines emit carbon monoxide, a toxic gas. Boaters and passengers may be exposed to high levels and lead to poisoning or wrongful death. From 2005-2019, 7 boating fatalities were due to carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  • Failure of Equipment: Maintaining a boat properly is vital for operating the craft in a responsible manner. The boat owner must maintain the boat to ensure it is safe for the water, much like servicing and tuning a car to be safe for the road. For example, a rental company may be held liable for injuries if the accident occurred on their boat because they failed to maintain their equipment. Manufacturers may also be liable for defective machinery. 

What to Do After a Boating Accident in New York

There are certain actions to take for protection after a boating injury regardless of the details and type of accident. After a boating accident, victims should:

  • Report the accident to the US Coast Guard and proper local authorities
  • Obtain pictures of the vehicles and injuries for preserving evidence
  • Seek medical attention and preserve all documentation of injuries and treatment
  • Report accident to insurance company, but acknowledge that they do now have the same priorities and will try to lowball any payouts
  • Hire an experienced attorney to complete all necessary filing and paperwork while protecting the victim’s rights

Speak with a New York Boat Accident Attorney Today

We have over 50+ years of experience serving boating accident victims in New York City, the Hudson Valley, and the Tri-State area. Our attorneys understand the complexities of local boating laws. Contact us online today for a free consultation or call 855-468-7626.