Boating is a popular form of recreation in Georgia. But no one goes out on the water expecting to be in a boat accident. Unfortunately, these incidents happen with alarming frequency. According to the National Safe Boating Council, there were more than 4,400 U.S. boating accidents in a single recent year, resulting in 658 deaths and 2,641 injuries.
At Butler Kahn, we represent victims of boating accidents. Whether you were hurt on a pontoon boat, speed boat, yacht, sailboat, kayak, or other vessel, our lawyers can investigate your case and demand maximum compensation from the liable party(s). Contact us today for a free consultation with a Lawrenceville boat accident lawyer.
What Are Some Causes of Boating Accidents in Lawrenceville?
In Lawrenceville, many factors can contribute to boat accidents, including:
- Speeding: Boat operators who drive too fast or fail to adhere to no-wake zones often contribute to high-speed crashes with other boaters or swimmers.
- Alcohol and drug use: Alcohol intoxication is the leading contributing factor in fatal boat accidents.
- Inattention: Many onboard and off-board distractions can divert an operator’s attention from the surroundings.
- Improper lookout: Someone should always pay attention to outside obstacles or hazards on the water, whether it is the boat operator or an appointed lookout.
- Operator error or inexperience: Young or inexperienced boaters who lack the necessary familiarity or skill can easily cause devastating boat accidents.
- Improper loading: If a boat owner overloads their vessel with passengers or cargo, it can become top-heavy and unstable on the water, potentially leading to capsizing or collisions.
- Poorly maintained vessels: Faulty or defective equipment, such as propellers, fuel lines, and navigation systems, can contribute to loss of control and deadly boat accidents.
- Weather conditions: High winds, choppy waters, fog, and other weather-related factors create hazardous conditions that increase the likelihood of boating accidents.
What Are the Most Common Injuries in a Boating Accident?
Boat accidents can result in severe injuries, including:
- Drownings and near-drownings
- Broken bones
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Wrongful death
What Are Georgia’s Boating Laws?
According to Georgia’s boat regulations, anyone born after January 1, 1998, must pass a boating education course to operate a vessel legally in state waters.
Children under 12 can only operate boats less than 16 feet long with a motor with no more than 30 horsepower. Children can only operate motorized boats with the supervision of a competent adult. The law categorizes a competent adult as someone over 18 who carries proper identification (e.g., a driver’s license) and is not intoxicated.
Those 16 and older must always carry proper identification while operating boats in state waters. Additionally, anyone on a personal watercraft and anyone under 13 on a vessel must always wear flotation devices.
In Georgia, it’s illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for boaters is 0.08 percent, just like for drivers. Georgia also requires operators of recreational vessels under 26 feet in length to wear links to their engine cutoff switch, or kill switch, at all times.
State law also requires Georgia boaters to keep specific types of documentation and safety equipment aboard. This includes boating safety certificates, boat registration certificates, validation decals, fire extinguishers, ventilation systems, mufflers, horns, navigation lights, and visual distress signals.
What Should I Do If I Am Involved in a Boating Accident?
Take the following steps to protect your legal rights and well-being after a boat accident in Lawrenceville:
- Check yourself and others for injuries. Call 911 immediately if necessary.
- If you don’t receive emergency care, immediately see a doctor and follow their treatment plan.
- Contact the police or the Georgia Department of Natural Resources so they can investigate the accident and produce an official report.
- Exchange information, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, boat registration details, and insurance policy information, with others involved in the accident.
- Take photos or video of the accident scene and any damage.
- Notify your insurance company per the terms of your boat insurance policy.
- Contact a boat accident attorney in Lawrenceville for help.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Lawrenceville Boating Accident?
Depending on the circumstances, any of the following parties could be liable for a boating accident:
- A boat operator
- A boat owner
- A boat passenger
- A boat rental company
- A boat manufacturer
- A local government agency
Am I Required to File an Accident Report After a Boating Accident?
Yes. You must file a report with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources after most boating accidents in Georgia. You should report most boating accidents within five days of the incident. However, if a boating accident victim dies within 24 hours of the crash, suffers a disability lasting more than 24 hours, requires medical treatment for injuries, or disappears from the vessel, you must report the accident within 48 hours.
What Sort of Damages Are Available in a Boating Accident Lawsuit?
If you suffer injuries in a Georgia boat accident, you can pursue compensation for losses you incur, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Property damage costs
- Pain and suffering
- Lost quality of life
Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Boating Accident Lawsuit in Georgia?
Yes. Under Georgia law, you have two years from the date of an injury accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against another party. The court will likely dismiss any suit filed after the two-year deadline, so acting quickly after a boating accident is essential. A Lawrenceville boat accident lawyer can identify important legal deadlines for your case and ensure you have enough time to file your lawsuit.
Contact a Lawrenceville Boat Accident Lawyer
If you are reading this page because you have been in a boating accident, we hope you are receiving the medical care that you need and are well on your way to recovery. We hope the information on this page has been helpful. If you’d like to talk with us about your situation, call us or contact us online. There is no charge to talk with a Lawrenceville boat accident lawyer with Butler Kahn about your case.