When Should You File a Boat Accident Lawsuit in California?

During the warm summer months, there is typically an increase in the number of boating accidents in Northern and Southern California. The California Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) regularly compiles statistics on the number of recreational boating accidents in California each year. In its most recent publication, DBW found that 266 boat accidents in Northern California accounted for 150 injuries and 36 fatalities during 2016. Most of the accidents took place on lakes or the Delta.

DBW also compiled statistics on the causes of these accidents, with a large percentage being entirely preventable. Excessive speed, inattention and collisions with other vessels accounted for a large percentage of accidents. A majority of accidents overall involved open motorboats.

When Can You File a Boat Accident Lawsuit?

Accident survivors may suffer life-altering injuries that affect their ability to work or enjoy life. Spinal cord injuries, brain injuries (from blunt force trauma or drowning) and broken bones can lead to thousands or even millions of dollars in damages. For this reason, it is important for accident survivors or their families to reach out to a boating accident attorney if they suspect negligent or reckless behavior caused the accident.

Survivors or their families may be able to recover compensation for their damages through a successful settlement or jury verdict.

In cases where negligence or reckless behavior caused the accident, a lawsuit is an option that should not be ignored. Examples of negligent or reckless behavior may include drinking or drug use while operating a boat, inattention or failing to perform necessary maintenance. Design or manufacturing defects may also lead to injuries or deaths while boating. These are situations where it may be possible to recover compensation through a lawsuit.

What Are Possible Damages in a Boat Accident Lawsuit?

This would depend on the situation. Each boat accident is going to lead to different types of damages, but most will have some similarities. For instance, all boat accident injury victims are going to incur some form of medical bills. How much the medical expenses will cost depends on the injury.

In a case that involves a 25-year-old suffering a C1 spinal cord injury with complete paralysis, the lifetime costs could be well over $4 million. This includes medical bills and other expenses, such as in-home care, food and shelter, medical equipment and home modifications.

Brain injuries may be a “catastrophic” injury, depending on the severity and areas of the brain affected. Some individuals with TBIs have memory and coordination issues. Others may have difficulty speaking or understanding language (aphasia).

Economic damages are only part of a bigger picture. Boat accident survivors may also suffer noneconomic damages, which are called pain and suffering damages. These damages are associated with a loss of enjoyment in life, and while difficult to quantify, could factor into a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit award. 

There are also punitive damages, which are rare and impossible to recover unless the defendant’s actions were especially egregious, and the case goes to trial. In California, only juries can award punitive damages.

Some accident survivors and families suffer tens of millions of dollars in damages, while others may suffer only thousands.

An experienced Santa Rosa boating accident lawyer can help you figure out which types of damages may apply to your case and whether it would be possible to seek compensation by filing a lawsuit.

About Our Santa Rosa Personal Injury Lawyers

Flahavan Law Offices is a Santa Rosa personal injury law firm with extensive experience helping victims of negligence and their families. You can reach out to us for a free consultation explaining your possible legal options after a boat accident in Santa Rosa or the surrounding areas. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (707) 414-0119 or use our online case review form