Either for work or leisure reasons, boating and water activities are common in New Jersey. Even if you are careful on a watercraft, it’s possible to be injured in a boat accident.
Boating can be fun, especially on those beautiful, sunny days, hanging out with friends and family, or doing some fishing. New Jersey has almost 150 miles of coastline and 150,000 registered water vessels, laying claim to around one-fifth of the boat activity on the east coast. In 2020, there were 6,720 boating accidents, 770 deaths, and 1,911 severe injuries nationally. The number of accidents in New Jersey waters in 2020 was 135, with 10 fatalities, a 50% increase from 2019. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the most common accident is a person overboard without a life jacket.
The majority of boat activity runs the months of April through August, which means there are nearly twice as many boats in the water during that time as in any other time during the year. If you have been in a boating accident and you believe it was not your fault, contact an experienced Personal Injury Lawyer at Cohen & Riechelson right away. You could be entitled to damages, hospital costs, missed work income, and other forms of compensation for your boat accident-related injuries.
How Do Most Boating Accidents Happen?
The first is an inexperienced captain or unfamiliarity with the boat. If the captain doesn’t know the proper speed or how to handle a lot of traffic on the water, things can get very complicated in a short period of time. The second is the time of day. Most boating accidents in New Jersey happen between 11 PM and 4 AM. It is very difficult to see other boats or objects in the water that can catch on a propeller. The third way most boating accidents occur is by driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol or illicit substances. Like driving a car, alcohol and drugs impair the ability to navigate a boat safely; combine that with reasons one and two, and you have the trifecta of how accidents happen. Add to that with being unfamiliar with maritime laws and it’s easy to see why watercraft accidents and resulting injuries happen so frequently.
Factors that Contribute to Boat Accidents in New Jersey
As seen above, typically, boat accidents are not necessarily caused by one action, but carelessness can be assumed a part of nearly all boat accidents. For example, if there is a lookout on the crew who misses a sandbar or large debris in the water or the captain is going at an excessive speed. Everyone on the boat should be wearing a life vest as 75% of overboard or drowning accidents leading to death were with people who were not using a vest. Bad weather or dangerous water conditions can turn on a dime. Small boats can be upturned in a matter of seconds, and if waves top 20 feet or more, even the most expert of captains could lose control and capsize. Most of the time, by checking the weather warnings before shoving off, it should be clear if your trip should be postponed. It is also important to check the motor and/or propeller before leaving the dock, and any other repairs, no matter how minor, should be done immediately to keep the boat in good condition before going back out on the water.
Types of Injuries Associated with Boat Accidents
When there is a collision, the passengers are thrown about the boat or into the water because boats do not have seatbelts, and frequently, the riders are standing on the deck. If the collision is severe enough, victims can suffer from broken bones, damaged ligaments, whiplash, spinal cord injuries, and concussions. If they are thrown into the water and cannot stay afloat, they will begin to drown, causing cerebral hypoxia, which could lead to brain injury and/or permanent organ failure. An accident involving the propeller could lead to limb amputation or catastrophic internal hemorrhages.
What To Do If You Are In A Boat Accident
Most of all, stay as calm as you can. Check the health and well-being of everyone on board. Do a headcount to make sure everyone is on board and if the boat is not too damaged, drop the anchor to keep the boat in a stable position until the authorities can arrive. Call 911 and provide a list of possible injuries to better prepare the maritime officers or the Coast Guard. As soon as possible, take pictures of both boats, get the names, phone numbers of any eyewitnesses, insurance information, make, model, and registration number of the other boat. If you don’t need emergency services, remember to file an accident report with New Jersey or federal authorities. If the damage was less than $2,000 and no one was injured, you need not file. Contact your insurance company as soon as you get onshore. Explain in as much detail as possible and send any photos you took of the damage.
Can I Sue If I Was Injured in a NJ Boating Accident?
If you were in a boating accident and believe someone else is at fault, you may have a valid reason to file a lawsuit seeking damages for your injuries and material loss. The next question to be answered is if your trial will be held in a state or federal court. If it is held in a state court, it will be a jury trial, while if it is in a federal court, it will be with one judge. According to federal law, if an accident occurs in navigable waterways (move according to the tide and are used for interstate or foreign transport of commerce), the trial is in federal court. Otherwise, the state court handles a boating accident injury matter. Nevertheless, determining which legal venue will be responsible for hearing your boat accident lawsuit is complex, requiring an analysis of a variety of significant factors specific to your case.
Not only that, but there may be more than one liable party in your case, meaning multiple defendants to be named in the lawsuit. Based on the complexity of boat-related injury claims, it is imperative that your case be examined comprehensively by an experienced personal injury attorney.
Contact Personal Injury Lawyers Handling Boat Accident Claims in Trenton, NJ
Being in a boating accident is scary and wondering how you are going to pay your medical bills is even scarier. You need a lawyer to determine whether you are eligible to seek the damages you are owed. You are entitled to receive compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured. You need an aggressive negotiator to handle interactions with the insurance company. A lawyer can fight for your rights to be made whole again, whether it be with an insurer or through trial in court.
Boating accidents are one of the most complicated personal injury cases to take to court. Concentrated, time-tested personal injury lawyers, like the ones at Cohen & Riechelson, are the professionals you can count on to handle your case professionally and effectively. We will interview witnesses, contact experts, and compile all the evidence needed for your case. You want the most skilled lawyer for your boat accident case. Give our firm a call if you are seeking legal guidance about a potential lawsuit in Hamilton, Ewing, Lawrence, Pennington, Trenton, Princeton, and towns across Mercer County and New Jersey.
Contact Cohen & Riechelson today at 609-528-2596 or toll-free at (888) 979- 6871 for your free, confidential consultation. With more than 50 years of combined experience, your personal injury case is in good hands.