Practice Areas / Accidents
Boat Accident Attorney Omaha
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Injured In A Boat Accident In Omaha? Contact An Attorney To Recover Compensation
When you’ve been injured in a boating accident, your first priority should be getting immediate medical attention. Even if you don’t think your injuries are severe enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room, schedule an appointment with your physician anyway.
After an accident, your ability to feel pain might be compromised. Your body is designed to go into shock after trauma, and shock can prevent you from feeling pain. It’s critical to get checked out immediately. In the absence of pain, you might be unaware of internal or extensive injuries only a doctor can see.
Waiting to get medical help can also make it harder for you to recover proper financial compensation for your injuries and other expenses. Whether you end up filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit, not seeking medical attention quickly could flag you for fraud, or reduce the amount of compensation you’re eventually awarded. Not seeking prompt medical attention gives the impression that your injuries aren’t serious and your claim will be worth less.
Once you’ve received medical attention, contact a boat accident attorney in Omaha. You’ll want to speak to an experienced, reputable lawyer who understands the nuances of boat accidents. Trying to recover compensation for a boating accident on your own is complex and confusing.
Attempting to negotiate an insurance settlement on your own is risky. The claims adjuster will know you’re in a vulnerable position and will offer you the lowest possible offer. Claims are negotiable, but you’ll have to fight hard for every additional penny. Even if you successfully negotiate a higher settlement, it may not be enough to cover all of your expenses.
Once you’ve accepted a settlement offer, you forfeit your right to sue. It’s better to contact an attorney from the start.
Boating activities are fun but accidents can be devastating
Being on the water is a popular pastime for those who like to feel the breeze and be surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature. Some people enjoy taking a sailboat through a choppy ocean while others enjoy skiing on a calm, private lake. A courageous few take to the adventures of kite surfing, and families often enjoy launching rowboats into the lake to fish.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy the water, but none are without dangers. Performing any activity on the water – even using a jet ski – is potentially dangerous. You could follow every safety precaution to the letter and still get struck by another vessel. Or, a child might fall out of your boat while your attention is distracted for a few seconds. Even with a life jacket, a small child can get hurt.
While adults are often victims of boat accidents, the water poses a significant risk to children. According to the National Safety Council, every year 830 children ages 14 and under drown, and an average of 3,600 children are injured in a near-drowning accident. In Nebraska, no child under 13 is allowed on most vessels without wearing a life jacket, but tragedies still occur.
The ocean can be unpredictable with undercurrents, riptides, and ferocious waves. A lake might not seem as dangerous as the ocean, but the truth is, recreational boating in any body of water comes with dangers. Vessels pose a significant threat to people who have fallen overboard, swimmers, and water skiers waiting for their boat to collect them.
You can mitigate the potential for accidents by taking safety courses, learning to swim, and wearing a life jacket, but taking precautions won’t always prevent accidents when other people are boating carelessly.
Thousands of people are injured in boat accidents each year
In 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard reported 4,463 boat accidents involving 701 fatalities, 2,903 injuries, and $49 million in property damage. Compared to 2015, the number of boating accidents in 2016 increased by 7.3%; fatalities increased by 12%; and injuries increased by 11.1%.
Most boating fatalities are caused by drowning – a tragedy that could be prevented, in some cases, by wearing a life jacket (personal flotation device). According to the U.S. Coast Guard, where cause of death could be determined, 80% of fatal boating accident victims in 2016 drowned; 83% were not wearing a life jacket.
In 2016, at least 171 accidents involved at least one person being struck by a propeller. These accidents caused 24 deaths and 175 injuries.
The most common injuries suffered in a boat accident in 2016 include:
- Laceration (109)
- Contusions (79)
- Broken bones (59)
- Head injury (41)
- Internal injury (29)
- Back injury (25)
- Burns (19)
- Sprain/strain (18)
- Neck injury (7)
- Amputation (6)
- Spinal injury (4)
Of the 421 people injured in 2016, 175 (42%) were operators and 236 (56%) were occupants. Twenty-four percent of injured victims could not swim, and 63% were not wearing a personal flotation device.
Alcohol is a common contributor to boat accidents in Omaha
Alcohol consumption significantly reduces a person’s judgment, vision, balance, and motor skills. These impairments increase the chance of an accident.
Drinking on a boat is more dangerous than drinking anywhere else. The movement of the ocean and it’s spray, the vibrations, engine noise, the heat from the sun, and the wind can contribute to deepening a person’s impairment. Even people who aren’t operating the boat shouldn’t drink. Just because you’re bass fishing or sitting in a rowboat doesn’t mean you can’t lose your balance and fall overboard.
According to Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, “operating a motorboat with a blood alcohol content of .08% of greater constitutes Boating Under the Influence (BUI) and carries a penalty of up to $1,000 fine, up to six months in jail and the loss of boating privileges for six months.” A person convicted of a BUI might be ordered to attend a treatment program.
If alcohol is suspected, a chemical blood test will be administered. If the test is refused, the person will be subjected to the same penalties as if a BUI.
If you’ve been injured in a boat accident in Omaha, an attorney will help you figure out if alcohol was a contributing factor. If alcohol was involved, an attorney can use that to establish fault and fight for getting you more compensation.
Alcohol isn’t the only danger
While alcohol is a significant contributor to boating accidents, operator negligence and ignorance play the largest roles. According to the Coast Guard, operator inattention, inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure are the top five primary contributing factors in boat accidents.
Most boat accident fatalities occur on vessels with untrained operators
Reports from the Coast Guard confirm 77% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator never received any safety instruction. Only 13% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator received a nationally approved boating safety certificate.
Nebraska has strict boating regulations that require most operators to complete a safety course. No one born after December 31, 1985 is allowed to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft unless he or she has passed a boater safety course and has been issued a boating safety certificate. The safety course must be one approved by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and a valid completion certificate must be carried on the vessel.
Determining the value of your boat accident claim in OmahaIf you’ve been injured in a boating accident caused by an untrained operator, a lawyer will be able to establish that fact in court, which will increase the amount of compensation you’re entitled to. Only a boat accident lawyer can determine the real value of your claim. Ignore the temptation to accept the first settlement you’re offered. Contact an attorney right away for a free case evaluation. Being represented by an attorney will give you the peace of mind necessary to recover physically and psychologically from your injuries.