What Should You Do After a Boating Accident in North Carolina?
Whether you are on a lake near Raleigh or Cary or the inland waters near Wilmington, you have certain legal requirements and legal rights if you are operating a boat that is involved in a boating accident.
You must stop and render aid to other boaters involved the accident to try to save others from drowning and rescue them from immediate danger.
You must notify the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission as quickly as possible of a boating accident that results in a death or disappearance of a person from a vessel. You should provide details including the date, time and location of the boating accident, the name of each person who died or disappeared, the registration number and name of the boat and the names and addresses of the owner and operator of the vessel.
As part of the North Carolina Boating Safety Act, the operator of a boat is required to make a written report to the Wildlife Resources Commission if the accident results in a death or disappearance from a boat, an injury that requires medical treatment beyond first aid, or physical damage to a vessel of more than $2,000.
The reports of boating accidents involving a death, disappearance or injury must be submitted within 48 hours of the accident. If the operator is unable to submit the report, the boat owner is required to submit the report.
You should contact an experienced boat accident lawyer to discuss your legal options if you or your loved one was injured in an accident caused by another’s fault.
How Can a Wilmington Boating Accident Lawyer Help?
Our dedicated lawyers will investigate the boating accident, interview the investigating officer and identify all the potentially responsible parties. In some instances, both a boat owner and boat operator may be separately liable for contributing to an accident.
We make an assessment of your losses including medical expenses, present and future lost income, future medical expenses and pain and suffering. If you or your loved one has sustained a disabling injury, we calculate the cost of ongoing care and assistance that you will need. We often work with life planners to estimate these costs. We prepare a claim that reflects the full extent of your injuries and losses caused by the boating accident. Then we negotiate aggressively with the insurance companies of the responsible parties to obtain a full settlement.
If Hardison & Cochran, Attorneys at Law can negotiate a just settlement with the insurance company or companies, it will allow you to receive money more quickly to cover your bills and avoid the stress and uncertainty of a court trial. If we cannot negotiate a fair settlement, we are prepared to proceed to court and are confident in our litigation skills.
For example, if another boater who caused a boat collision was charged with boating while impaired, that boat operator will face criminal prosecution. But a criminal conviction of a boater who caused an accident will not provide any compensation to cover your medical bills or replace lost income if you are unable to work. You will need to pursue a separate civil lawsuit against the responsible parties, seeking compensation for your losses.
Common Reasons Boating Accidents Occur
Many different factors can cause a boating accident. No one should operate a motorboat or other boat in a negligent manner that endangers others. A study by the U.S. Coast Guard identified five leading reasons for boating accidents.
- Operator inattention
- Careless / reckless operation
- Excessive speed
- Alcohol / impaired boating
- Passenger / skier behavior
Under North Carolina boating laws, all recreational boats must have a personal flotation device for each person aboard and boats 16 feet in length or longer must also have one throwable type IV personal floatation device. All children 12 years and younger are required to wear a life jacket when the boat is underway, unless the child is in an enclosed cabin.
Boats operating at night are required to display lights between sunset and sunrise.
North Carolina law prohibits anyone under age 14 from operating a jet ski, wave runner or other personal watercraft. A young person who is at least 14 years old may operate a personal watercraft if they have completed a boating safety course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) or are accompanied by a person at least 18. Allowing someone who is underage or inexperienced to operate a boat is unlawful and may be a breach of the boat owner’s duty to operate safely.
The laws applying to boating accidents are complex. If someone has been injured or a loved one has died in a Raleigh boating accident or a Wilmington boating accident, contact an experienced attorney. Hardison & Cochran represents personal injury and accident victims throughout North Carolina, including Raleigh, Cary, Wilmington and Fayetteville. Contact us today.