Were You Injured In A Boat Accident In West Palm Beach?
In West Palm Beach, countless people take to the water every day for fun and leisure activities. Many of those people choose to head out on boats and personal watercraft. The high number of boaters on the water means that boat accidents may occur regularly throughout the West Palm Beach area, resulting in serious injuries to the victims of those accidents.
Having West Palm Beach boating accident attorney on your side can prove critical. Contact Shiner Law Group at (561) 777-7700 to learn more about your right to compensation after a serious boating accident in West Palm.
Table of Contents
2. Pursuing a West Palm Beach Boat Accident Claim
3. Work-related Injuries Sustained Offshore
4. Common West Palm Beach Boating Accident Injuries
5. Boating Accident FAQs
6. Contact a West Palm Beach Boat Accident Lawyer Today
How a West Palm Beach Boat Accident Attorney Can Help
The boat accident attorneys at the Shiner Law Group have been serving the Palm Beach community for over 15 years, litigating a variety of cases associated with Florida’s maritime laws. With extensive experience in representing clients injured in boating collisions and accidents, our legal team can help you understand your rights and methods of discourse, including financial recovery for payment of bills, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and wrongful death.
Our award-winning law firm is committed to the highest standards of legal ethics, and our priority is to ensure that you and your loved ones are protected in the event of a boating accident.
Each case is unique, so we will investigate your claim to determine what financial compensation you may be entitled to under applicable Florida law. We can resolve your case in the courtroom or through out-of-court settlement negotiations.
Shiner Law Group: Helping West Palm Beach Boating Accident Victims
Following a serious boating in West Palm Beach, you may need an attorney to help you understand your right to compensation and to give you a better idea of what to expect as you move forward with your claim. At Shiner Law Group, our attorneys have deep roots in the community and a determination and commitment to help West Palm Beach accident victims obtain the compensation they deserve following serious injuries due to another party’s negligence.
We take each claim seriously as we aid our clients in their journey to compensation.
Our attorneys can
carefully evaluate every aspect of your accident.
If you suffered serious injuries in a boating accident, you may need a careful evaluation of the accident to get a better idea of who may share liability for your injuries and what steps you need to take next. At Shiner Law Group, we start with a full investigation into the boating accident and the factors that contributed to it. Often, we can help identify multiple factors that may have contributed to the accident, which may help increase the compensation you can claim for your injuries.
We make sure our clients have a strong understanding of the compensation they deserve.
After the boating accident, you may need to seek compensation through the liable party’s insurance company. Insurance companies, however, often make it more difficult than anticipated to secure the compensation you really deserve for boating accident injuries.
Many insurance companies will start by issuing a low settlement offer, then trying to pressure you to take it. At Shiner Law Group, we look into the compensation you should really expect for your injuries, which can help you make an informed choice about when to accept an offer.
We help compile a compelling case for our clients.
A compelling claim can prove critical to maximizing the compensation for your accident. We put together all the relevant evidence, then issue a compelling claim that can help increase the odds that you will recover the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. If you have to go to court to recover the full compensation you deserve for your West Palm Beach boating accident injuries, Shiner Law Group can aggressively represent your interests throughout the court battle.
Pursuing a West Palm Beach Boat Accident Claim
Florida law mandates that any person operating a boat must do so in a safe and reasonable manner; however, some of the most common reasons for boat accidents include, but are not limited to:
- Operating the boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Maintenance issues associated with the boat and its safety equipment
- Inclement weather or dangerous water conditions
- Improper loading of passengers and/or cargo
- Distractions or failing to pay attention to surrounding watercrafts or people
- Excessive boating speed
In the event that a person becomes injured or is wrongly killed as a result of a boat operator’s negligence, the boat operator may be held liable. Victims or their loved ones should contact a Palm Beach boat accident attorney to pursue a claim for financial compensation.
Work-related Injuries Sustained Offshore
Sustaining work-related injuries offshore gives an employee the opportunity to seek financial compensation:
- Workers’ compensation, in which an individual can file a claim to receive benefits and medical treatment
- Claims against an employer, third party, or boating insurance company for negligence (the claimant must prove that the negligence led to the injuries sustained (e.g. photographs, film, eyewitness testimony, police reports, etc.)
Understanding the Jones Act
The Jones Act, or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is federal legislation that allows qualifying sailors employed at sea to seek financial compensation from their employers in the event of an injury. If an employee sustains injuries that results from the carelessness of their employer or colleagues, a negligence claim can be pursued. Additionally, ship owners can be liable if their vessel caused an accident due to unsafe conditions or improper care.
There are other legal actions available that protect sailors employed at sea, including maintenance and cure, as well as the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). It is also important to know that laws related to waterways, ocean, intracoastal, and rivers, is often referred to as Maritime law.
Common West Palm Beach Boating Accident Injuries
Boating accidents in West Palm Beach can cause a variety of injuries. They tend to occur in one of three ways. First, someone may fall off of the boat, resulting in serious injuries as the victim crashes into the water. Second, the victim may suffer injuries when the boat collides with another object or vehicle. Finally, boating accident injuries may occur if the boat capsizes, often as a result of user error.
Because of the wide range of potential causes of accidents, boating accidents can result in several types of injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injury
If the victim falls overboard, striking his head on something in the water or the boat on the way down, it may result in traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injury results from injury to the brain itself.
Even minor traumatic brain injury may have symptoms that linger for more than a year after the initial accident. More serious traumatic brain injury may lead to symptoms that last for the rest of the victim’s life.
Victims may have trouble focusing or concentrating on the task at hand. They may note problems with both short-term and long-term memory, which may leave them struggling to remember simple instructions or whether they have completed simple tasks. Traumatic brain injury can also cause problems with emotional regulation, including extreme overreaction or trouble dealing with emotional stimuli.
Anoxic Brain Injury
In addition to traumatic brain injury, which occurs as a result of actual head trauma, victims may suffer an anoxic brain injury. Anoxic brain injury occurs when the patient’s brain suffers oxygen deprivation, as when a patient drowns, but responders resuscitate the patient.
Anoxic brain injury can occur after four minutes of oxygen deprivation. Symptoms of anoxic brain injury can prove similar to symptoms of traumatic brain injury and can have the same kinds of long-term consequences for the victim, including blurred vision, personality changes, changes in thinking, and difficulty with focus and concentration.
Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries occur frequently when someone tries to dive off of a platform into too little water. Unfortunately, in some cases, spinal cord injuries can occur as a result of boating accidents in West Palm Beach.
Sometimes, the victim may get run over by a boat or may fall off of the boat into something heavy in the water beneath, resulting in spinal cord injuries.
Victims with spinal cord injuries may suffer from full paralysis below the site of the injury, in the case of complete spinal cord injuries, or may suffer from substantially decreased mobility below the site of the injury in the case of an incomplete spinal cord injury.
From the propellers on a boat to the many dangerous pieces of gear associated with boating, many boating accident hazards can result in accidental amputations or the loss of a limb.
Sometimes, amputations may occur due to trauma associated with the boating accident directly. Other times, like a collision between two boats out on the water, a victim may sustain such serious crushing injuries that doctors must amputate the affected limb due to a lack of blood flow.
Many victims of boating accidents suffer from multiple broken bones. In a boating accident, victims often get thrown around, sometimes at high rates of speed. They may fall into the water or crash into other objects around them. Broken bones can cause serious, ongoing limitations for the victim, interfering with the victim’s ability to complete work tasks or even engage in regular self-care.
Sometimes, responders can resuscitate the victim. After a long time without breathing or a heartbeat, however, the victim may experience ongoing challenges. Not only can drowning damage the brain, it may deprive other organs of oxygen, which can cause the victim serious long-term consequences.
Common Causes of West Palm Beach Boating Accidents, and Who Bears Liability
Boating accidents can occur for a range of reasons. Often, when filing a boating accident claim, you will file a claim with the insurance company that covers the liable party.
Florida law, however, does not require boat owners to carry insurance to legally own or operate the boat—though owners who took out a loan to buy the boat may have to have insurance on it. If the liable party does not carry insurance, you may need to deal with that party directly as you seek compensation for your injuries.
Negligence on the Part of West Palm Beach Boat Owners
West Palm Beach boat owners and operators bear a high duty of care to their passengers and to anyone who shares the water with them.
Many errors on the part of the operator of the boat can lead to serious injury to others, including:
- Ignoring the laws of the water. Just as drivers on the road must adhere to specific laws to protect themselves and others who share the road with them, boaters out on the water must adhere to laws, including speed laws and safety requirements, to help protect everyone onboard and anyone else they might encounter out on the water. Negligent boat owners and operators who fail to adhere to those rules may cause serious injuries, and they may bear liability for those accidents.
- Drinking and boating. Florida law prohibits boating while intoxicated. While the owner or operator of the boat can have a drink while out on the water, anyone operating the boat must have a BAC under .08, just like they would if they planned to operate a motor vehicle. Drinking and boating can substantially increase the risks of severe accidents since drunk boaters have the same limitations often suffered by drunk drivers and may pose a substantial danger to themselves and others on the water.
- Inexperience. Florida law does not require a specific license for people on the water to use or drive a boat. While West Palm Beach visitors and residents born after January 1, 1988, do have to pass a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators-approved boating education course or show a certificate of having completed a safety course, boaters often lack the experience to navigate dangerous situations out on the water.
- Failure to properly maintain the boat. Boat owners must exercise immense care to ensure that their boats meet minimum safety standards and that they do not have any damage that could increase accident risk. Damaged boats can raise the risk of injury significantly.
Defective boats can cause serious problems out on the water. Sometimes, the manufacturer may install components incorrectly, or use unsafe components. Those malfunctioning components can pose a substantial danger to everyone on the boat, especially if they malfunction in a heavily trafficked area. In that case, the boat manufacturer, or the manufacturer of those parts, may bear liability for the boat accident.
Defective Flotation Devices
In a boat accident, you may rely heavily on your life jacket or other flotation device to help keep you above the water until help arrives. Defective flotation devices, therefore, pose a significant danger to everyone on board, whether you attempt to use that device to rescue someone else or you need it to help you stay afloat while you wait for rescue.
Defective flotation devices might have the wrong weight limits or simply fail to float as intended, which can lead to drowning and all the injuries associated with it. In the case of defective flotation devices, the manufacturer may bear liability for your boating accident.
Dock or Marina Problems
Sometimes, West Palm Beach accidents occur as a direct result of a problem with the dock or marina: improper guidance over rocky areas, for example, could cause the boat to hit something underwater, while poor maintenance around the dock or marina, including excess debris in the water, could substantially raise the risk of an accident.
In that case, the dock or marina may bear liability for the accident.
Boat Rental Company Errors
Many West Palm Beach residents and visitors alike prefer renting a boat to buying one, especially if they only plan to be in the West Palm Beach area for a short time. Several companies in the area rent out boats for the day.
Those companies bear a high duty of care when it comes to keeping those boats well-maintained and avoiding potential accidents. When an accident occurs due to poor maintenance on a rented boat, the company may bear liability for those injuries.
Debris in the Water
Sometimes, you cannot fully avoid debris in the water. In other cases, however, that debris may occur as a result of negligence on someone else’s part, including a dock or marina that fails to adequately police and clean its waters.
Some of that debris may even hover invisibly just beneath the surface of the water, posing a serious danger to anyone who nears it. The party that allowed or placed that obstruction in the water without proper labeling and signs may bear liability for a boating accident due to those hazards.
West Palm Beach Boating Accident FAQs
Do you have questions about your right to compensation after a West Palm Beach boating accident? Take a look at the FAQ below or contact Shiner Law Group to learn more.
What Compensation Can You Recover After a West Palm Beach Boating Accident?
Boating accident injuries can leave you with serious, long-term limitations and high medical bills. You may need to recover considerable compensation for your injuries, especially if you lost time at work or lost your source of income as a result of your injuries.
The experienced attorneys at Shiner Law Group can go over the circumstances that led to your accident and the losses you faced, which may give you a better idea of the compensation you should expect for your injuries.
In general, however, boating accident claims in West Palm Beach contain similar general elements.
Compensation for Your Medical Bills. Medical costs can grow exponentially following a West Palm Beach boating accident. You may find yourself struggling heavily to keep up with those bills, especially if you have long-term medical expenses associated with your injuries.
Keep track of all your medical expenses, including everything from emergency medical care to long-term care after your accident, so that you can accurately assess your full medical costs when you file a boating accident claim.
Compensation for Lost Wages. Did you have to miss work as a result of your boating accident injuries? Severe injuries from a boating accident can leave you unable to complete your usual job duties or struggling to focus on work at all.
If you suffer injuries that will leave you with lifelong limitations, you may permanently lose your source of income due to your boating accident. Talk to an attorney at Shiner Law Group about how to include compensation for lost wages or lost earning potential related to your boating accident as part of your boat accident claim.
What if the person who caused my boating accident does not carry boat insurance? Can I still file for compensation?
If the party that caused your boat accident does not carry insurance on the boat, you may still have the right to file a personal injury claim against that individual directly. However, you may have more trouble recovering the compensation you really deserve for boat accident injuries when the liable party does not carry insurance. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Shiner Law Group as soon after your accident as possible to get a better idea of how you can move forward with a personal injury claim.
Keep in mind that Florida law does not require boaters to carry boat insurance. People who own and operate boats can decide for themselves if they want that insurance coverage. However, they may bear personal liability for injuries that they cause due to negligence on the water.
Do boating accident claims in West Palm Beach look like other types of personal injury claims?
Boating accident claims look like most other personal injury claims in one key way: they involve negligence on the part of another party and a request for compensation from the injured entity. To understand your right to compensation after a boating accident, however, you may need to work with an experienced boating accident attorney, who can help evaluate the circumstances that actually led to the boat accident.
Boating accidents may, in some cases, involve multiple complicated elements. In a mechanical malfunction, for example, you may need an expert witness to look at the debris and the boat or to look over past manufacturer defects in the industry to better determine who may have caused or contributed to the accident. In the case of a collision between two boats, it may take an in-depth investigation into what, specifically, led to the collision and who caused the accident.
Working with an attorney can prove critical to your West Palm Beach boating accident claim. At Shiner Law Group, we help evaluate every element of your accident, which can provide the evidence you need to file a personal injury claim.
If I or a loved one did not wear a life jacket at the time of a boat accident, can I still file a claim?
According to Florida law, every person onboard a boat must have access to a personal flotation device or life jacket, and children under the age of six must wear a life jacket at all times.
Legally, you do not have to wear a life jacket to spend time on a boat in Florida. If you suffer injuries in a boating accident due to the negligence of another party, even if you chose to remove your life jacket, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim.
Regardless of your decision to wear a life jacket, you still have the right to a personal injury claim when someone else’s negligence led to your accident and your injuries. An attorney can help give you a better overview of your right to compensation based on the specific circumstances that led to your boating accident.
How much does it cost to hire a West Palm Beach boating accident lawyer?
If you suffered serious injuries in a West Palm Beach boating accident, having a personal injury attorney on your side can offer your best chance at maximizing the compensation you can receive for those injuries. Many accident victims, however, worry about the cost of hiring an attorney to help take on the insurance company and improve their claims.
At Shiner Law Group, we start with a free consultation to go over your boating accident, including the circumstances that led to it and the compensation you deserve. We accept our boat accident cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that instead of paying for your legal expenses upfront, you can pay based on a percentage of the compensation you recover as part of your claim.
Instead of asking how much it costs to hire a West Palm Beach boating accident lawyer, consider the cost of failing to hire an attorney to help you with your boating accident claim. Most accident victims find that working with an experienced attorney offers their best chance at maximizing their compensation. In many cases, insurance companies will take your claim more seriously and offer additional compensation when you show that you have an attorney on your side.
An attorney can also help reduce the stress you may face associated with your boat accident claim, allowing you to focus on your recovery and decreasing the overall frustration you may have to deal with as you manage your claim. Often, an attorney can take over dealing with the insurance company for you, allowing you to focus on your recovery instead.
Furthermore, an attorney can help provide you with vital advice that may help you maximize the compensation you recover for your West Palm Beach boating accident injuries. An attorney can offer advice about everything from what you can post on social media without jeopardizing your claim to how you should interact with the insurance company if you have to give a statement about the accident.
How long does it take to settle a boating accident claim in West Palm Beach?
Dealing with a boating accident claim takes time, and the actual time needed to settle your claim may vary depending on your specific injuries or the conditions that led to your boating accident. Several things can extend the time needed to deal with your boating accident claim.
You may need time to recover. After a boating accident, you may have severe injuries. Many of those injuries will require a long recovery period. In some cases, your doctors will not even offer an accurate prediction of your eventual recovery until several months after the accident.
Victims with spinal cord injuries, for example, will need as much as six months to recover before their doctors can predict their eventual prognosis. Victims with traumatic brain injury may take time to learn how their injuries will limit them.
Your injuries and recovery will affect the compensation for pain and suffering and the medical expenses related to your boating accident injuries.
For example, if you have complications related to your recovery, you may need to spend more time in the hospital before you can go back home, or you may need additional procedures. Your attorney may recommend waiting until you have a better idea of what your eventual recovery will look like before filing your boat accident claim so that you can adequately assess the damages you may deserve.
Your attorney may need time to conduct an investigation. To determine who caused or contributed to your boating accident injuries, your attorney may need to investigate the accident. Sometimes, that investigation requires only a relatively straightforward look at the specific conditions that caused the accident: another boat driver, for example, who swerved into you or chose to travel at excessive speeds.
In other cases, your attorney may need to spend much more time looking into the conditions that caused the accident, including a look at how debris made it into the marina or how improper signage contributed to underwater dangers that led to your accident. Sometimes, your attorney may even need time to bring in an expert witness to evaluate the conditions that led to your accident.
You may go through several rounds of negotiation before agreeing. Most personal injury claims, including boating accident claims, require several rounds of negotiation between the liable party or the liable party’s insurance company and the victim. The liable party will want to limit the compensation he has to pay out as much as possible, while, as the victim, you want to maximize the compensation you can recover for your injuries and your losses.
Each round of negotiation can add to the time needed to settle your boat accident claim. If you need to go to court to resolve your claim, it can further extend the time needed to resolve your claim and get the compensation you deserve in your hands.
Will I have to go to court to settle my West Palm Beach boat accident claim?
In general, most insurance companies prefer to settle personal injury claims, including boat accident claims, out of court if possible. Going to court significantly increases the legal costs associated with managing a personal injury claim.
The liable party will frequently have to pay out those court costs. As a result, most insurance companies try to settle out of court whenever possible. However, sometimes, you may have to go to court to settle your boat accident claim.
In particular, you may have to go to court if you need to request substantial compensation due to severe injuries sustained in your boat accident, or if the liable party attempts to dispute liability for the accident, making it difficult for you to recover compensation.
If you do have to go to court to resolve your boat accident claim, an attorney can help present your claim in the best possible light and help increase the compensation you can recover.
Do You Need a West Palm Beach Boating Accident Attorney?
If you sustained severe injuries in a West Palm Beach boating accident, you may need a personal injury attorney to help answer your questions or pursue the compensation you deserve. Contact Shiner Law Group today at (561) 777-7700 or write to us for your free case evaluation to learn more about your right to compensation.
Contact a West Palm Beach Boat Accident Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love has died because of the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another, we welcome you to contact our experienced legal team so that we can evaluate your claim and advise you of your rights and options. We are committed to helping victims recover the compensation they need to move past injuries or loss, so call us 24/7 at 561-777-7700 or online for a free case review to see how we can help.
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