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Bagen Law Blog

First Steps to Take After a Boating Accident

Posted by Steven A. Bagen

May 2, 2014 3:53:00 PM

bigstock-Photo-of-a--foot-sailboat-in-39169036A holiday weekend is the perfect time for a brief getaway. Since Memorial Day is the kick off to the summer season, it's a great time to get out on the boat. But unfortunately, fun and games can turn to tragedy in the blink of an eye. No one wants to think that they will ever experience that kind of tragedy first hand, but it can happen. Boating accidents can happen to anyone. If it does happen to you, you need to take the right steps to protecting yourself and getting the care and compensation that you deserve.

Seek Medical Attention

After you or a loved one experiences something as tragic as a accident, it can be normal to be unsure of what you should do next. Emotions are running high and it can be difficult to think clearly in the moment. First thing's first - make sure everyone receives proper medical attention. Even if you or anyone else involved doesn't seem to be hurt, you should seek medical attention anyway. Some injuries can show up over time, even as much as months later, and may not be traced back to beginning with the accident. A lot of pain and suffering can also be better managed when it is detected right away, so don't just wait a few days and see if you feel better.

Documenting the Accident

It is really important to document the accident at the time of the event, too, in case you decide that you need to file later claims. Don't rely on memory alone to help you recall the event of an accident. At the time that an accident occurs, start gathering evidence that will be useful if you pursue legal action. Some of these methods of documentation include taking pictures of damage, writing down the details about the accident on paper and asking for a copy of the police report and/or medical report from the hospital and any doctors you see in the process.

Gather Witnesses

Another important first step to take after an accident is to look around for people who may have witnessed it. Since most boating takes place at busy marinas or lakes with many other people present, it should not be too hard to find witnesses who saw the whole thing happen. Their eyewitness accounts of the boating accident should help to provide credible testimony if you decide to take the case to court. Make sure to collect statements and contact information from any of these potential witnesses.

Check with Insurance

The specific things that insurance will cover can vary widely depending on your individual policy, the policy of the person at fault in the boating accident and even the state in which you live. After boating accidents, it is crucial to immediately check in with both your own insurance policy as well as the policy of the person who was at fault. You need to know which insurance policy will cover your bills, and keep track of all correspondence related to this effort.

Keep Records

After an accident, you need to do more than just gather documentation and collect witnesses. You need to create a file or folder in which you keep all of the information you have related to the accident. Include items like reports from responding police officers, doctors and other medical professionals, copies of related medical bills, statements related to any lost work and contact information for witnesses who may be willing to speak on your behalf.

Preventing Boating Accidents

The consequences of accidents are so serious, but that doesn't mean that you can't reduce your risk of causing one. Like many other situations, it's important to take steps to minimize your risks, which protects both you and the other people who are also enjoying the water with you. Here are some of the things you can do to prevent accidents:

  • Never operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol. Even if you feel "just buzzed" you may still be impaired enough that it makes you unable to operate the boat with complete safety.

  • Avoid causing large wakes in the water

  • Watch out for people in the water

  • Maintain safe distances between boats

  • Obey speeding zones

  • Don't operate a boat recklessly

When to Contact an Attorney

People are sometimes hesitant to contact a personal injury attorney after accidents because they want to be fair and hope that the other party will be fair, too. But in reality, it doesn't always work that way, and sometimes it is necessary to call in the extra reinforcement of a qualified attorney. Here are some of the circumstances that suggest you should seek the counsel of a personal injury attorney:

  • A medical professional has told you that you were seriously injured in the accident. When you seek medical care after an accident, the staff at the hospital will evaluate the seriousness of your injuries. If they say the injury is severe, you are more likely to have lasting consequences.

  • The other party does not have insurance. Medical care and lost wages can have astronomical costs, and someone has to pay for it.

  • Your insurance won't pay for care, either. You hope your insurance company will pay, but sometimes they don't.

  • There's a dispute about who is at fault in the accident.

Talk to Steven Bagen Attorney Gainesville Ocala Florida