Biloxi Boat Accident Lawyer
Christopher Van Cleave and his Biloxi-based personal injury law firm have been advocating for clients in Biloxi and throughout Mississippi since 1997. If you or a loved one suffers serious injury on a boat, as an operator or passenger, you may be entitled to compensation. The personal injury team at Van Cleave Law has extensive experience handling Jones Act and maritime law cases and are familiar with the many causes of boating injuries. After hearing your story, Van Cleave Law can determine if you are entitled to seek full and fair compensation from a responsible party. We can carefully examine the circumstances of your injury to determine the actual cause and who may be liable.
Common Causes of Boat Accidents
Many people assume that operating a boat is a lot like driving a car. It is not. Unlike cars, boats do not have brakes that allow them to come to a complete stop. Boats can be difficult to steer and control, and waves and surf can be inconsistent and unpredictable. Winning a boating accident lawsuit requires proving negligence. Serious personal injuries as a result of boating accidents often result from the following:
- Inexperience—Safely operating a boat requires training and experience. Boat drivers should understand boating laws and regulations. Boaters should also carry and use air horns, life jackets and other safety equipment.
- Speeding—Speeding in any type of boat decreases the turning radius and increases the chances of causing an accident. Operators must operate their boats at reasonable speeds for the then existing conditions.
- Drugs and alcohol—Drinking and driving any vehicle — car or boat — is highly dangerous.
- Weather—The weather always brings surprises, even for the most experienced forecaster. Strong winds and large swells can cause problems, even for the most seasoned sailor.
The circumstances of your accident determine who is at fault. If you were injured on a cruise ship because of a damaged railing, you may be able to file a claim against the cruise line company. If you suffer an injury due to a defective vessel component, the boating manufacturer may be responsible. If a passenger drowns because there are no life jackets resulting in wrongful death, liability may rest with the boat owner. If you are injured because the boat operator travels at an unreasonable speed for the existing conditions, the operator may be responsible for the resulting injuries and damages.
Recoverable Damages Following a Maritime Accident
Under Mississippi law, a person injured in a boating accident because of another person’s breach of their duty to follow the safety rules that keep us all safe while we are on the water has a right to be compensated for all resulting economic damages. These include such things as property damage, past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, mileage for traveling to doctors’ and lawyers’ appointments, and incidental damages for things like having to hire someone to do chores the injured person could normally do around the house. Mississippi law also requires the injured person be compensated for noneconomic damages, in an amount determined to be fair by the Jury. These damages include compensation for physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, anxiety, inconvenience, scarring or permanent disability, loss of enjoyment of life, and the like.
What Injuries are Sustained in a Boat Wreck?
Boats can weigh multiple tons, and a collision at even a few miles per hour can inflict severe injuries. These can include broken bones, separated joints, severe lacerations, spinal cord damage, or traumatic brain injuries.
These injuries can prove especially hazardous since many of these incidents happen on the water, and far from land. This can significantly increase the danger to the injured boater in that they may need to wait longer for emergency services or run the risk of drowning.
Time Limits for Pursuing a Civil Claim
No matter how solid a claim may be on its surface, it may still fail if an injured individual fails to act on time. Every case must be filed within the applicable statute of limitations. According to Mississippi Code § 15-1-49, this time limit for most claims is they must be filed within three years from the date of injury. This limitation applies to both settlement and trial cases. If an insurance company knows that the statute of limitations has expired, they will not offer money to end the case.
In short, if a plaintiff does not submit their case to court within the applicable time limit, the court will refuse to hear the case and the right to recover full and fair compensation will be terminated. A Biloxi attorney could help ensure that a boat accident case is filed before the legal deadline expires.
What Happens After a Claim is Filed?
Most boat owners have insurance that is available to provide compensation for injuries. By gathering evidence of defendant’s fault, and putting together a strong claim that documents all recoverable damages, a Biloxi watercraft collision attorney could help settle claims out of court. Sometimes it is necessary to go to trial. Van Cleave Law prepares every case as if it is going to trial, so that if it a case does not reach a fair settlement, all the necessary evidence will be assembled to bring the case to trial.
Importance of a Biloxi Boat Accident Lawyer
Picking up the pieces after an accident can be difficult. At Van Cleave Law, we strive to provide you with personalized guidance through every step of your case. Located in Biloxi, our law office is committed to serving Biloxi and the state of Mississippi. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.