There might not be a better state than Louisiana for boating. With hundreds of lakes, major rivers, and easy access to the Gulf of Mexico, many people either use boats recreationally or work on the water. Unfortunately, boating can also be extraordinarily dangerous, and unexpected hazards can cause serious injuries.
If you were hurt in a boating accident, a dedicated personal injury attorney may be able to help you recover compensation for your losses. Contact a Lake Charles boating accident lawyer today to get started.
Common Boating Accident Injuries to Sue for in Lake Charles
Louisiana has a strong history of commercial and recreational boating, and recreational boating continues to be a popular pastime here. Data from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) show that as of 2019, there were more than 300,000 recreational boats registered in the state.
Unfortunately, sometimes a boat outing can turn into a tragedy. And boat accidents are far more common than you might think. The USGS reports that there were 105 recreational boating accidents in Louisiana in 2019. Of these accidents, 18 were fatal.
The injuries that victims sustain in non-fatal boating accidents can often be life-threatening and catastrophic. However, suffering a critical injury is not necessarily what determines whether you have the right to hold the liable party accountable.
If your injuries have had a significant impact on your life, and someone else is responsible for causing your accident, you have the right to hold them accountable. Injuries that may be seen in Lake Charles boating accident lawsuits include:
- Broken bones
- Organ failure
- Compound fractures
- Lacerations leading to sepsis
- Contusions and abrasions
- Emotional injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Loss of limbs
- Facial injuries
- Anxiety and depression
- Internal bleeding
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Third-degree burns
If you have concerns that your injuries may not be severe enough to warrant legal action, the best way to find out whether you have grounds for a case is by contacting a boating accident attorney in Lake Charles for legal guidance and support.
For a free legal consultation with a boating accident lawyer serving Lake Charles, call (337) 777-7777
Negligence and Liability in Boating Accidents
When another person’s careless or reckless behavior is responsible for causing a boating accident, the injured person may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. These lawsuits are usually based on the legal theory of negligence.
Negligence happens when one person owes a duty of care to another and breaches that duty in a way that causes harm. Some examples of negligence on the water could include colliding with another boat, colliding with a fixed object or grounding, operating the vessel at an excessive speed, or operating while intoxicated.
Your lawyer can collect evidence of the responsible party’s liability, such as accident reports, eyewitness testimony, and personal statements.
This evidence may include the results of post-accident drug testing that is required after certain boating accidents. The Louisiana Revised Statutes (RS) §32:681 states that if a boating accident results in a fatality or suspected serious injury, the operator of the boat may be administered chemical tests of his or her blood, urine, or other bodily fluids to determine the presence of any abused substances or controlled dangerous substance.
Boat owners or operators may also be responsible for injuries if they failed to have the necessary safety equipment onboard or failed to follow any other state and federal safety rules.
Lake Charles Boating Accident Lawyer Near Me (337) 777-7777
Boating Accidents at Work
Many people in Louisiana have a job that requires them to be on a boat or on the water. When a person is hurt at work while on land, they generally do not file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. Instead, they use the workers’ compensation system to recover money for their damages.
On the water, the rules are different. Most seamen who are injured while performing their jobs cannot file a workers’ compensation claim against their employers under either Louisiana or federal law. Instead, they usually must sue their employer under maritime law and the federal Jones Act.
Jones Act claims also operate under the theory of negligence. To file a Jones Act case, the worker has to prove that their employer did not provide a reasonably safe work environment, failed to use ordinary care in maintaining the vessel, or operated the ship in an unsafe condition.
Injured seamen and their Lake Charles boat accident attorneys can file a lawsuit against their employer in either state or federal court, but they must do so within three years of their accident or injury.
Statute of Limitations for Boating Accidents in Lake Charles
If you are considering insurance or civil claims against the liable party following your Lake Charles boating accident, it is important to get your claim filed before the Louisiana statute of limitations expires. Per CC § 3492, injury victims will generally only have one year to get their claim filed. The exact date the statute of limitations will run out for your case can vary considerably.
Some factors that could impact the date the statute of limitations runs out include when you were diagnosed with your injuries, when the accident occurred, and more. If you attempt to file your lawsuit once the statute of limitations has passed, the defense will file a motion to dismiss your case.
Unfortunately, the judge will likely have no other option but to grant their request. Fortunately, when you have a legal advocate on your side, you can focus on recovering from your injuries while we handle the procedural and legal details of your case.
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What to Expect From the Lake Charles Boating Accident Claims Process
The boating accident claims process in Lake Charles can be overwhelming. While you are still healing from your injuries, the last thing you want to be thinking about is bringing your case to court. However, if you understand the claims process better, you may feel more at ease with your decision to bring the liable party to justice.
Here is a basic idea of what you can expect from the Lake Charles boating accident claims process after you hire a boating accident lawyer:
- Answer your questions and give you legal advice
- Begin investigating the cause of your boating accident
- Obtain the evidence needed to prove negligence and liability
- Collect evidence to support the value of your damages, such as medical records, receipts, and bills for related expenses
- Prepare to file claims with the insurance company
- Begin negotiations with the insurance adjuster
- Prepare to bring your case to court if necessary
- Advocate for total compensation before the judge
Every boating accident case is different, but after you review the details of your case with your attorney, you will have a better idea of what the claims process will look like for your case, and how much you could expect to be awarded if you win.
Damages After a Boating Injury
Plaintiffs in a personal injury case may be able to recover several types of damages. An injured person might recover compensation for:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost earnings
- Reduced earning capability
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Repair or replacement expenses
If you lost a loved one in a boating accident, the potentially recoverable damages in your personal injury case might include:
- Funeral costs
- Pre-death medical expenses
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of guidance
Injured workers who file Jones Act claims are eligible to receive the same types of damages in their case as they would in any other personal injury case. In some circumstances, they may recover even more through the Jones Act if they are awarded interest on their damages.
Yes, You Can Afford to Hire a Lake Charles Boating Accident Lawyer to Handle Your Injury Claim
Before you try to handle your boating accident injury claim on your own out of fear of the expense of hiring an attorney, it might help if you knew how we handle the legal fees in these cases. A boating accident injury claim or lawsuit is a personal injury case. We handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis.
A contingency fee means that you do not pay any upfront legal fees. We work on your entire injury claim or lawsuit without any payment during the case. Only at the end of the matter do we receive payment of our legal fees in the form of a portion of the insurance proceeds or jury award. We do not get paid until you win.
Pitfalls That Could Cost You Money on Your Injury Case
The monetary value of your boating accident injury claim is not set in stone at the time of the accident. Things can happen later that could impact how much money you can go after for your losses.
Here are some situations you might want to avoid after getting hurt in a boating accident:
Giving a Recorded Statement
Claims adjusters often ask injured people to give a recorded statement. The adjuster asks you a series of questions and records your responses, which later get transcribed. A recorded statement does not benefit you. If anything, it gives the at-fault party’s insurer material that they can cherry-pick to present a version of the facts that might not be in your favor.
If you get asked to provide a request statement, you can simply reply that the individual should talk to your lawyer. Your boating accident attorney can provide all the information that the defendant needs. Also, when you have a lawyer representing you, the other side is not allowed to contact you directly.
Accepting a Low-Ball Settlement Offer
Sometimes people do not realize that injury claim settlements are negotiable. You are not required to accept the first offer that the negligent party’s insurance company makes. No matter what they might say to the contrary, the insurer does not offer its maximum settlement authority amount on the first offer. They always leave room to negotiate.
If you try to handle your injury claim on your own without a lawyer, you most likely do not have access to the jury verdict databases that lawyers and insurance companies use to determine the settlement value of a claim. Most people who try to settle their injury claims by themselves as a DIY project find out later that they should have received much more money.
Talking About Your Accident on Social Media
When you have a pending injury claim or personal injury lawsuit, the defendant can usually get access to your social media accounts. No matter what your privacy settings are, you should expect that the liability insurer will be able to find the photographs and comments that you post.
It is best if you take a break from social media until your claim gets resolved. You might also want to ask your friends and family not to post anything about the accident or your injuries.
Contact a Lake Charles Boat Accident Attorney Today
Proving liability in a maritime or recreational boat accident can be complicated and often requires the help of an attorney. If you were injured on or by a marine vessel, schedule an appointment with a Lake Charles boat accident lawyer at Laborde Earles by contacting us today.