Who Needs a Boat Accident Attorney or Lawyer?

boat accident attorney

Maritime accidents involve different types of vessels like boats, ferries, ships, tankers, and even jet skis. When compared with automobile accidents, boat accidents can be rather complex to deal with because of various intricacies such as fewer witnesses and the absence of physical evidence. Fortunately, if you wish to seek compensation for your damages, a good boat accident lawyer or attorney will know just what to look for and how to go about the process systematically.


Boat Accidents in Numbers

Data released in New York’s 2022 Recreational Boating Report indicates that there were 28 reported boating-related fatalities over the course of the year. In addition:

  • 41 to 50 years old accounted for 29% of the fatalities in 2022.
  • Drowning was the leading cause, and 75% of all drowning victims in 2022 did not wear lifejackets.
  • There has been an average of 22 recreational boating deaths per year from 2012 to 2022.
  • Intoxication was the main contributing factor in boating accidents from 2005 to 2022, accounting for 21.4% (79) fatalities.


Do You Need a Boat Accident Attorney?

Dealing with a boat accident injury can be daunting if you plan to seek compensation for your damages from another party because different legalities are often at play. Besides, you might also need to seek treatment for your injuries.

Boating accident attorneys start the process by investigating the circumstances that resulted in injuries and gathering all the evidence possible. They are aware of all applicable laws so they can determine who to hold liable fairly easily. With the required information at hand, your attorney moves to negotiate with the defense attorney or the opposing party’s insurance company.

If the negotiations do not produce a favorable result, your attorney can take your case to court by filing a personal injury lawsuit.


Determining Fault

Determining fault is crucial when dealing with a maritime accident, and you may expect your boating accident attorney to address this aspect during the initial stage. Bear in mind that the law puts the onus of implementing safety measures on boat owners and operators, so if an accident leads to injury or death, it might be possible to hold them liable. For you to seek compensation, these statements need to be true:

  • The other party was responsible for providing a duty of care.
  • There was a breach in the duty of care.
  • The other party’s negligence/carelessness resulted in the accident.
  • The accident caused your injuries.

While it’s common for boat owners and operators to be the at-fault parties, the responsibility might rest with other parties too. In some instances, more than one party might be at fault. Boat accident attorneys pay attention to different aspects to determine who is at fault and who to hold liable for your damages.

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Laws That Govern Boating Accidents in New York

New York’s boating accident lawyers need to understand different federal, state, and local laws. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Navigation Rules govern the operation of vessels on all navigable waters in the country, including collision avoidance, sound signals, and lights. It also enforces safety laws surrounding the requirement for registration, life jackets, and extinguishers.

New York Consolidated Laws, Navigation Law, on the other hand, addresses regulations surrounding reckless operation of vessels, speed limits, and alcohol restrictions within the state’s waterways. In some jurisdictions, local municipalities have their own boating-related ordinances. Determining which laws apply in different scenarios can be complicated, which is why it’s ideal to consult a reliable boat accident lawyer/attorney.


Common Causes

Several people suffer injuries in boating accidents that occur because of different reasons. While there are many causes, some are more common than others.

  • Weather conditions
  • Hazardous waters
  • Collision with other vessels
  • Collision with submerged objects
  • Capsizing
  • Operator inexperience
  • Operator error
  • Navigational error
  • Distraction
  • Violating navigation rules
  • Overspeeding
  • Recklessness
  • Manufacturing faults or defects
  • Mechanical failure
  • Malfunctioning of equipment
  • Inadequate safety precautions/equipment
  • Fires/explosions
  • Falling overboard
  • Improper lookout
  • Intoxication


The Role of Intoxication

Since intoxication is among the leading causes of boating accidents, it’s common for boating accident lawyers to ask for toxicology tests. In the fairly high-profile boat wreck that killed Adrienne Vaughan, president of Bloomsbury USA, in August 2023, the toxicology test of the speedboat’s skipper indicated the use of alcohol and cocaine before the accident.

Not using any type of intoxicant when operating a boat is crucial because it can come with several detrimental effects. After all, the use of alcohol or drugs can:

  • Impair judgment and coordination
  • Reduce reaction time
  • Decrease awareness
  • Endanger the lives of passengers

Intoxication can also increase the risk of:

  • Collisions
  • Capsizing
  • Drowning

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Common Injuries

Scores of people enjoy incident-free boating experiences across New York regularly, but not everyone is as lucky. Besides, while some may suffer minor injuries, others might have to deal with more serious complications. Some of the most common types of boating accident injuries include:

  • Back injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Hypothermia
  • Broken bones/fractures
  • Burns
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Sprains/strains
  • Amputations
  • Whiplash
  • Electrocution


Seeking Compensation

You may expect your boat accident lawyer to arrive at a suitable amount you may seek as compensation after studying the damages you suffer closely. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may get compensation for:

  • Hospital stays
  • Emergency room visits
  • Prescription medications
  • Long-term care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress/mental anguish
  • Funeral costs (in case of a wrongful death)

In cases where defendants show reckless disregard or harm others intentionally, they might need to pay punitive damages as well.



There is no reason for you to fight a legal battle on your own after suffering injuries in a boating accident because professional help is easy to find. Besides, the opposing party might have its own team of lawyers, so it is ideal that you also go well-prepared. All you need to do is find a reliable boat accident attorney who can represent you at the negotiation table and, if required, in court as well.