Personal Injury: Boat Accident
Boat Accidents and Injuries - An Overview
According to the United States Coast Guard in 2002, more than 12.5 million boats and personal watercraft (PWC) were registered in the United States. In particular, the use of personal watercraft, such as Jet-Skis and other brands, has exploded since the '90s.
Not surprisingly, the United States Coast Guard also reports that each year there are more than 8,000 boating accidents that result in more than 4,000 serious injuries and 800 deaths.
If you have suffered an injury on a boat, while boating or while engaged in other water sport activities, you should consult a personal injury attorney with experience handling such claims as soon as possible after the accident. The laws that apply to injuries that occur on and around the water are complex and there are several questions that must be analyzed in order to correctly determine the value of a boating injury claim. For example, does state negligence law, federal maritime law or both control the claim and the amount of damages that can be recovered? Who is the responsible party? Is the cause of action against the owner for negligent operation? Did the boat malfunction creating an actionable product liability claim against the manufacturer, as is common with personal watercraft? Clearly it is important to consult with an experienced attorney.
The Jones Act
If the person injured on or around a boat or water falls within the legal definition of "seaman" special protection may be available via the Jones Act. The Jones Act has special rules that protect seamen and make recovery of certain damages and benefits easier. In order to fully understand The Jones Act and its benefits, you must first understand the special terminology it uses.
A seaman is a person with employment related connection to a vessel in navigation and whose connection to the vessel's mission is substantial. Essentially, if you earn your living at sea, you are a seaman. A person whose work is covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act may be treated as a Jones Act seaman in some cases.
Maritime law, often called Admiralty law, is a set of legal rules and practices governing the business of employment and transportation of people and goods over or near navigable waters.
Before discussing the types of activities subject to maritime law and the special remedies available to people who make their living on the seas, it's important to first understand what conditions must be met to trigger maritime law. To fall within maritime (also called admiralty) jurisdiction, the tort (or wrongful act causing the accident) must have occurred on "navigable waters" and meet a two-prong nexus test.
"Navigable waters" is a legal term describing all waters which are capable of transporting people or cargo between the states and other countries. Essentially it means the waterway must be usable as a highway for interstate commerce. Inland lakes that do not connect to an interstate waterway or the open sea would not meet this test. As a matter of law the open sea and waterways used for interstate commerce (such as rivers) are navigable waters.
Boat Accidents and Injuries Resource Links
U.S. Coast Guard Home Page
Access to government information.
U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety
provides information about safety, regulations, recalls and statistics about accidents and fatalities on U.S. waterways.
U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety, Security and Environmental Protection
This site provides documents and other information related to maritime matters.
U.S. Navigation Center
A one-stop source for all your navigation needs, including GPS and DGPS outage information, navigation forums, almanacs, and more.
MARAD- U.S. Maritime Administration
A department of the United States Department of Transportation, this site provides a range of information including maritime advisories, port check information and links to a variety of government resources.
To learn more about what attorney Timothy M. Farris can do for you, contact our offices today. Representing clients throughout the state of Mississippi.