Victim of a Boating Accident? Here’s What You Should Do

Accidents have become more prevalent with the rising popularity of recreational boating activities across lakes, rivers, and other marine areas in Edmonton. 

According to the ‘Economic Impact of Recreational Boating in Canada’ report by the NMMA, approximately 12.4 million adult Canadians participate in boating annually. The recreational boating industry contributes $5.6 billion to Canada’s GDP and generates over $10 billion in revenue. 

In a boat accident resulting in injuries, seeking legal assistance from an experienced boat injury lawyer is important.

Legal Assistance After a Boat Accident 

Legal assistance safeguards your rights and increases your chance of rightful compensation. A boat injury lawyer can counter lowball offers or pursue litigation. If you have suffered from an injury or loss, you can focus on your recovery while your legal interest remains protected.

Boat Accidents in Canada

The Canadian Red Cross features a report about specific boat-related fatalities in Canada. This 10-year report reveals that from 1991 to 2000, there were 1,952 boating fatalities in Canada, including 1,803 drownings and 149 non-drowning deaths mainly due to trauma (98) and hypothermia (51).

The high rate of boating incidents is due to several factors. Many boaters disregard basic safety principles; some don’t wear flotation devices despite following safety measures on land, and others use unsafe vessels. 

Additionally, many boaters need to be stronger swimmers or cannot swim at all, heightening the risks of boating accidents.

Legal Procedures for Boat Accident Claims

Some boating accidents are inevitable and blameless; someone’s negligence can also cause them. If the operator’s negligence causes a boat accident, those injured (or their surviving relatives) may have grounds to pursue legal action.

Determine Liability

The requirement for a boating accident compensation claim is two-fold: proof of liability and negligence played a part. A boat operator is considered negligent under the following circumstances: 

  • Failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations.
  • Inability to meet a certain standard of care.

Laws Governing Boating Accidents

Laws and regulations exist regarding pleasure watercraft, such as the Canada Shipping Act, the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations, and the Criminal Code of Canada. As per Transport Canada, they establish the ‘rules of the water,’ much like we have road rules for motor vehicles.

Operators of specific pleasure watercraft must hold a license. They are prohibited from operating the vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs and should adhere to specific safety rules. These regulations include respecting the speed limit, passing other watercraft safely to prevent collisions, and paying attention to warning buoys and other signals.

If a boat operator disregards these laws and regulations concerning pleasure watercraft and causes harm to another person, they could be held accountable.

Responsibility of Vessel Operators

Vessel operators are obligated to ensure the safety of their passengers by maintaining a certain standard of care. They must provide lifejackets, ensure the vessel is seaworthy, and avoid risky behaviour. Failure to meet this standard that leads to an injury could result in liability. 

Boating Accident Claims

If you’re involved in a boating accident where you’re not at fault, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. In case the accident leads to tragic loss, you can file a wrongful death claim.

Various factors that personal injury claims for boating accidents can arise from are as follows:

  • Slips, trips, or falls on board
  • Boat defects
  • Impaired or inexperienced operators
  • Non-adherence to safety measures
  • Waterway regulations disregard
  • Mechanical issues
  • Impact with other vessels or obstacles
  • Nonexecution of man overboard procedures

Marine Liability Act

Boating accident claims fall under the jurisdiction of the Marine Liability Act. This law determines eligibility for damages and establishes the maximum compensation for various boating accident cases.

If you’ve been injured or suffered a loss from a boating accident, understand your rights promptly. Consulting with a seasoned boating accident lawyer can clarify your eligibility to pursue compensation. These accidents, often resulting from lack of training or negligence, can lead to life-altering consequences.

The Role of a Boat Accident Lawyer

Legal GuidanceProvide legal counsel throughout the claims process.
InvestigationConduct a meticulous investigation to collect evidence and determine liability.
PaperworkComplete and file the necessary paperwork, including insurance claims and legal documents.
Insurance CompaniesDeal with insurers on your behalf in pursuit of fair compensation for damages.
Court RepresentationRepresent the claimant in court if the case goes to trial, advocating for their rights and interests.
Maximized CompensationWork to maximize compensation for damages such as lost wages, suffering, and property damage.
SupportOffering support and guidance to the claimant throughout the process, including answering questions and addressing concerns.

Countering Lowball Settlement Offers

Lawyers can fight against lowball settlement offers from insurance companies or opposing parties in a boat accident claim. 

  • Negotiate with insurers or opposing parties to seek a fair and reasonable settlement.
  • Gather and present evidence to support the full extent of the victim’s damages.
  • Use strong legal arguments to counter lowball offers.
  • Highlight the strengths of the victim’s case.
  • Advocate for a higher settlement amount.
  • Take the case to court to pursue maximum compensation for their client.

Compensation for Boat Accident Victims

Individuals or their families must adhere to the federal Marine Liability Act regulations when pursuing compensation claims in cases of injury or fatalities resulting from a boating accident. 

According to the Act, liability is determined based on the tonnage of the involved vessels rather than the severity of the injuries sustained. 

Section 29 of the Act specifies, “the maximum liability for maritime claims arising from a single incident involving a vessel of less than 300 gross tonnage is $1 million for claims related to loss of life or personal injury, and $500,000 for all other claims.”

Considerations for Boat Accident Compensation

Lost WagesVictims unable to work due to injuries may recover compensation for current and future income losses.
Pain and SufferingEligible victims may receive compensation for physical pain and emotional wounds caused by the accident.
Property DamageIndemnification for repair or replacement costs of damaged personal property.
Disability and ImpairmentCompensation for long-term disabilities that affect their quality of life, future earning capacity, and ability to engage in previous activities.
Wrongful Death Indemnities for losing financial support, companionship, and guidance.
Punitive DamagesIn cases of extreme negligence, you may be awarded punitive damages as a form of punishment and deterrence.

What Should I do after the accident?

Here are the recommended steps to follow after a boat accident:

  1. Gather information immediately following the boating accident. 
  2. Take photographs of the scene, mainly the boat involved.
  3. Take note of the time of day and the weather conditions. 
  4. Document the type of watercraft involved.
  5. Ask the operator for a valid Pleasure Craft Operator Card – a boat licence. 
  6. Secure the names of other parties or witnesses, boat name and hull identification number, and any insurance information. 
  7. Remember that more information makes claim preparation easier.
  8. Talk to a boat injury lawyer. 

boat injury lawyer

Maximize Your Compensation Claim With a Boat Injury Lawyer

Boat accidents are daunting, and the aftermath makes it even worse as the injury or loss you might have suffered drains you financially and physically. 

You can get a boat injury lawyer to navigate the legal complexities and increase your chance of receiving the total compensation you deserve for your boating accident injuries. If you are looking for a boat injury lawyer in Edmonton, consider Sidhu Personal Injury Lawyers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Children under 12 cannot operate a recreational vessel with more than a 10-horsepower engine unless supervised by someone 16 or older. Youths between 12 and under 16 can operate a boat with over 40 hp under supervision. Those 16 or older can operate a vessel without supervision.

Boaters in Alberta must adhere to a 10 km/hr speed limit within 30 metres of the shore or on rivers less than 100 metres wide. Injuries caused by speeding or boating too close to the beach can support a compensation claim.

In Edmonton, the general timeframe for filing a lawsuit after a boating accident is two years. This is under the Alberta Limitations Act, which sets a two-year limitation period for most personal injury claims, including boating accidents. This two-year period typically begins when the injured party knew or should have known that an injury occurred and was attributable to the defendant’s conduct.

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