People out for a pleasant day of boating may find their lives permanently changed if they are involved in a boat accident. Accidents on the waterways can lead to property damage, loss of income, serious injuries, and even death.
If someone else’s negligence led to your injury or the death of your loved one, you need a State College boat accident lawyer to represent you. A skilled personal injury attorney could work hard to hold the negligent party accountable for damages and help you get the compensation you deserve.
What Does State Law Say About Reporting Boat Accidents?
Under Pennsylvania state law, people who are involved in a collision between watercrafts or on the water must stop their vessel immediately at the scene of the incident and render assistance to anyone who needs it, so long as doing so would not put them or their passengers in danger. Everyone present at the scene of an accident must also provide their name, address, and information about their boat in writing to anyone whose property was damaged or suffered a physical injury.
If a boating accident results in a catastrophic injury, disappearance, or fatality, the parties involved must notify the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission as soon as possible and file an accident report with the PFBC in writing no later than 48 hours after the incident. If an accident results in more than $2,000 in property damage or the total loss of a vessel, the PFBC must receive a written report within 10 days.
Establishing Boat Operator Negligence
Under Pennsylvania law, anyone injured due to another’s fault has the right to seek financial compensation for his or her injuries. The claimant must be able to show that:
- There was either a physical injury or financial loss
- At least 50 percent of the fault lies with the defendant
- The defendant’s negligence caused the harm the plaintiff suffered.
There are many forms of negligence that can be a factor in watercraft accidents. Boat operators who violate waterway laws, fail to equip their boat with the proper safety equipment, or are distracted or intoxicated while controlling the vessel could all be found negligent in the event of an accident. Additionally, if the manufacturers of the vessel failed to notice or remove a defect that caused an accident, they could also be held accountable.
To prove boat operator negligence, State College attorneys need to collect relevant evidence. By contacting an attorney soon after an accident, it could improve the chances of recovering important evidence before it disappears.
What Constitutes Boating Under the Influence?
According to 30 Pa. C.S. §5502, it is illegal for anyone who is impaired by alcohol to operate or be in physical control of a moving watercraft. This same statute defines intoxication in this regard as a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater within two hours of when the boat in question was operated.
Similar restrictions apply to the presence of controlled substances in the blood of anyone operating a boat.
Pennsylvania uses the theory of modified comparative negligence to determine the amount of damages a plaintiff may receive. As long as the claimant’s portion of fault is not more than 50 percent, he or she may collect damages from other negligent parties. However, there will be a reduction in the award equal to his or her percentage of responsibility.
For example, in a case that a plaintiff is 20 percent responsible for an accident, if that plaintiff receives an award of $100,000, the court will reduce the award to $80,000. A skilled lawyer in State College could present the facts of the boat accident case in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, perhaps reducing the amount of responsibility that the court assigns to the plaintiff.
Available Damages in a State College Watercraft Accident
Boat collisions often result in significant financial losses. If there is damage to the person’s boat or its contents, he or she could seek compensation for property damage. There may be immediate medical bills for emergency treatment as well as ongoing expenses for pain medications or physical therapy. Additionally, if a person is catastrophically injured in a boat wreck, he or she may be unable to work, resulting in lost wages or future earning capacity. The negligent party or parties must compensate the claimant for these expenses.
If an accident causes permanent damage, like disfigurement, the negligent party may be required to compensate a claimant for emotional harm. Pain and suffering is also compensable. An experienced watercraft accident attorney could negotiate for the highest award possible to meet all the plaintiff’s needs.
How Long Does a Boat Accident Victim Have to Pursue Litigation?
Under 42 Pa. Con. Stat. §5524, people who wish to file suit over personal injuries have only two years after their watercraft accident in which to do so. Failure to do so will result in the case being time-barred, which will almost certainly prohibit any kind of civil recovery whatsoever.
Get a State College Boat Accident Attorney on Your Side
If you were injured in a boat wreck due to another person’s negligent actions, do not hesitate to seek legal counsel. A compassionate State College boat accident lawyer could negotiate with insurance companies to try to get you the best settlement possible. If necessary, your attorney will take the negligent parties to court. Call to schedule your free case consultation at Marcus & Mack today.