What They Can Do for You
Boating is a beloved pastime in West Virginia and across the country. Morgantown is located along the scenic Monongahela River and near world-famous stretches of whitewater that surge through the Appalachian Mountains. It’s also near Cheat Lake and Sunset Beach Marina, where powerboats can pull skiers.
Unfortunately, boating comes with risks, including the risk of sustaining injuries in a boating accident.
If you or a loved one were injured in a boat accident in Morgantown or the surrounding area, reach out to our experienced attorneys to determine if you can seek compensation for your injuries. Contact the experienced Morgantown boat accident lawyers at Wagoner Desai today to discuss your accident and injuries.
How Our Boat Accident Lawyers Can Help You
For individuals injured in a boating accident, the road back to normalcy can prove arduous. In addition to physical pain and suffering, victims of boating accidents may also struggle with the loss of income, medical debt, and mental trauma. Knowing where to seek help isn’t always obvious.
For many, the first step is contacting an experienced boat accident lawyer. While for many the idea of retaining a lawyer brings to mind litigation, an attorney with experience handling boating cases can provide assistance beyond representing victims in court.
First and foremost, an attorney’s primary role is to counsel his or her client, which goes well beyond just filing a lawsuit. Suffering a serious Morgantown boat accident is a very jarring, traumatic experience. The aftermath may leave the injured in desperate need of good advice. A good lawyer lends calm and a sense of stability to an otherwise tumultuous situation. He or she can provide guidance, explain options, and chart a path forward. If the injured party decides to pursue litigation, an attorney can help with that as well.
Many boaters purchase insurance that pays out in the event of an accident. This may sound good on the surface, but the cruel reality is that providers are quick to find loopholes to avoid covering the total cost of such accidents. Unfortunately, in many instances, the injured party accepts the insurance company’s initial settlement offer without realizing the true value of the injury claim. An experienced boating attorney can spot an unfair insurance payout and negotiate with the insurance company to achieve a larger payout. In fact, just having legal representation by your side often results in a larger payout.
Sometimes, the dispute isn’t with an insurance company, but rather with the party that caused the accident. The at-fault party, especially if it’s a large, monied entity, may prefer to settle rather than go to trial. The at-fault party may make an initial offer to the injured party just to close out the claim. This first initial offer is usually well below the true value of the injured party’s claim. Unfortunately, far too many injured individuals accept low-ball offers without a second thought. A lawyer can evaluate the merits of your claim and approximate its value and, in turn, derive an appropriate settlement figure.
Finally, if settlement negotiations break down, the lawyer may file a lawsuit to vindicate the client’s rights through the legal system. The lawyer can formulate a legal plan that incorporates the client’s objectives. Additionally, the lawyer may increase the likelihood of a larger award of damages for the client, while trying the case efficiently to reduce costs.
Boat Accident Causes
Every year, millions of Americans, including those in Morgantown, head to lakes, rivers, and oceans to spend time on the open water. In fact, boats and marine products accounted for $42 billion in sales last year.
Unfortunately, not all time spent on the water is enjoyable. Like most other recreational activities, there is some risk involved with boating. Although regarded as a safe activity, over 4,000 boating accidents occurred last year. Less serious accidents usually result in minor property damage, while more severe wrecks can prove deadly.
Boat accidents have many different causes. Every boat accident is unique; however, accidents, especially severe accidents, are often sorted into a few different categories: collisions with other recreational vehicles, collisions with fixed objects, grounding, flooding, swamping, and falls overboard. Last year, collisions with other recreational vehicles were the most common category, accounting for over 1,000 accidents and more than 600 injuries.
Boating accidents can have serious repercussions, including catastrophic property damage, debilitating injury, and loss of life. The consequences are born out in the statistics. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, boating accidents caused 613 deaths and more than 55 million dollars of property damage last year.
Types of Boat Accidents
- Running aground: The uninitiated may struggle to imagine how a boat can simply run aground. They often assume that this is a result of absolute negligence on behalf of the driver, but the reality is more complicated. Many grounding accidents occur far from land, where it’s least expected. Many bodies of water have sandbars and rock outcrops miles from shore. Although such hazards are usually marked to put drivers on notice, if the marker becomes displaced, then unwitting boaters could run aground.
- Falling overboard: One of the most common boating accidents, falling overboard is also one of the most lethal. First, boaters rarely have advanced notice that they’re about to go in the water, as unexpected jolts or collisions usually cause them to fall overboard. Thus, they’re usually dislodged from their positions suddenly and rapidly with no time to prepare, increasing the likelihood that they sustain injuries. Second, far too many boaters do not wear life jackets, and falling overboard without a life jacket poses a serious danger. The boater is floating alone in the open water, perhaps injured or unconscious, without a means of staying afloat outside of his or her own capacity as a swimmer. Every passenger on board a boat should wear a life jacket; West Virginia law requires lifejackets on those 12 and younger, waterskiers, and everyone onboard personal watercraft like Jet Skis.
- Boating at night: It goes without saying that to operate a boat effectively, you need sufficient light to see. Night boating is safe with appropriate precautions. Unfortunately, far too many boaters take the risk of driving a boat in the dark at high speeds without the proper safety equipment. When this happens, collisions and groundings abound.
- Bad weather: Not all boats can handle bad weather, and certain weather, like thunderstorms, may endanger people on even the largest, most durable boats. Boaters who fail to check the weather forecast before heading out put themselves and their passengers at risk.
- Sporting accidents: Waterskiing, tubing, jet skiing, and other fun watersports come with the risk of injury. The person pulling a waterskier, for example, must keep the towline taut, watch for other boat traffic and debris, and pay attention to the skier. After a wipeout, he or she must circle back and cut the engine to let the skier get back onboard safely.
- Drinking while boating: Boating while intoxicated brings with it all of the well-known hazards of driving on land while under the influence.
Don’t Hesitate to Call Our Morgantown Boat Accident Attorneys
A serious boating accident can change a person’s life immediately and forever. He or she may experience job loss, financial insecurity, mental anguish, and permanent disability.
Fortunately, injured individuals don’t have to suffer in silence. They can achieve financial stability for themselves and their families through the legal system. The first step is reaching out to an experienced boating accident lawyer who can provide candid advice and recommendations.
If you’re contemplating filing a lawsuit, schedule an appointment right away. Many jurisdictions impose a statute of limitations on personal injury claims, barring all lawsuits not filed within a certain time after the accident. Furthermore, most lawyers offer a free initial consultation at no cost to the client, so don’t hesitate. Reach out to the experienced personal injury attorneys at Wagoner Desai today or call us anytime at (304) 470-2056 to determine your eligibility to seek compensation.
Wagoner Desai, PLLC
265 High Street, 3rd Floor
Citizens Bank Building
Morgantown, WV 26505