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Easy access to both saltwater and freshwater recreational activities is one of the main attractions of the Tacoma area. Living in a state with one of the nation’s highest per capita boat ownership rates, many residents enjoy being out on the water. Unfortunately, crowded waters can mean frequent collisions between boats and other watercraft. Injuries from boating mishaps can be catastrophic, even deadly.

If you suffered injuries in a boating accident, you could work with our injury attorneys to claim damages from the negligent parties involved. A Tacoma boat accident lawyer could help you hold the responsible parties accountable for the harm they caused.

What Are the State’s Safe Boating Laws?

The state of Washington has enacted laws and regulations to keep boating safe for all participants. For instance, anyone born after January 1, 1955, must have a Boater Safety card. The card is issued upon completing a boater education course that applicants can take in person or online. Experienced boaters may take an equivalency test instead of enrolling in the course.

The state also defines unsafe boating. The Revised Code of Washington §79A.60.030 prohibits boaters from operating negligently, which can be an infraction similar to a speeding ticket. However, if the offender has two or more previous violations, careless boating could be a misdemeanor. Under this statute, negligent operation could mean going too fast for conditions or managing the vessel in a manner that endangers others.

Operating a watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a separate offense. Boating under the influence (BUI) is a gross misdemeanor and could lead to hefty fines and up to one year in jail. If someone involved in a boat accident was cited for BUI, a Tacoma attorney could offer the citation as clear evidence of negligence.

Proving Negligence After a Boat Accident

When an injured person seeks monetary damages, they must prove that another party was negligent. Negligence means not using the same degree of caution and care that a reasonable person would use in similar circumstances. A violation of the law is evidence of negligence, but it is not the only way to prove liability for an accident.

Proving negligence can be challenging in boat accident cases, in part because law enforcement does not always go to the scene. Without a police report, a skilled lawyer in Tacoma could interview the injured person and other witnesses, examine the physical evidence, and solicit an expert’s opinion to get a clear picture of what caused the boat accident. Negligent parties in boat accident cases usually include the vessel’s operator. Depending on the circumstances, other negligent parties could include the following:

  • Vessel manufacturer
  • Boat rental company
  • Safety equipment manufacturer
  • Boat passenger
  • Marina or boat repair contractor

Once a legal professional has identified negligent acts or omissions, they would make a demand for damages and begin settlement negotiations. Possible sources of settlement funds from boat operators include a homeowners, automobile, or business insurance policies. If a repair shop or manufacturer is liable, their commercial insurance may provide a source of funds.

Boating Accidents Often Cause Severe Injuries

Injuries in boating accidents can be severe, permanent, and life-changing. Some incidents are fatal. Severe lacerations requiring stitches and broken bones are common when boats collide with whales, permanent obstructions, and other vessels. Traumatic amputations sometimes occur in boat accidents. Facial injuries, head trauma, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain damage could result from a crash on the water. Drowning and near-drowning incidents may also occur.

Recovering from boat accident injuries can be complicated due to delays in medical treatment. In addition, the conditions on many boats could increase the chance of infection. A detail-oriented Tacoma lawyer could ensure that the full extent of an individual’s injury and prognosis are clear before starting to settle a boat accident claim.

Pursue Your Claim with a Tacoma Boat Accident Attorney

Boating accidents can be chaotic, and when they happen, you are probably focused on getting back to dry land safely. You might not be thinking about how to get compensated for your injuries.

A Tacoma boat accident lawyer has experience investigating crashes on the water and identifying parties who might be liable for your damages. To get a knowledgeable attorney working on your case, call as soon as possible.