Many people in Georgia like to take boats out on the water in warm weather. Unfortunately, many people are seriously injured each year as a result of boating accidents involving negligence. Not all recreational boaters are experienced enough to know how to avoid posing risks to others when using watercraft, particularly when there are high winds, heavy rains, or significant wakes from other vessels. Moreover, some boat operators may be under the influence of alcohol. If you have been hurt in a crash on the water, the Savannah boating accident lawyers at the Suthers & Harper may be able to help you recover damages. Retaining an injury attorney early in the process is important to ensuring a thorough investigation of the accident.Pursuing Compensation for a Boating Accident
Most often, victims of boating accidents must establish negligence on the part of a boat operator. Generally, negligence involves failing to conduct oneself as a reasonable person under similar circumstances would. Sometimes a victim is a passenger on a negligent boater's boat, while at other times, a victim is in another boat or in the water. Reasonable boaters will be expected to adhere to safety rules and pay attention to the possibility of causing harm to others.
For example, a boat operator who speeds into an area of a lake where people are swimming and hits a swimmer may be found negligent. The issue would be whether it was reasonable for the operator of the boat to speed into the area of the lake where there were swimmers. If the area was one where no swimmers could be expected to be found, it might have been reasonable to speed into that area. However, if it was an area of the lake designated for swimmers, it would likely not be.
A large percentage of boating accidents are caused by boating under the influence, which is a crime in Georgia. The State may bring criminal charges when a boat operator causes an accident while drunk or operates a watercraft with gross negligence or recklessness. If a criminal conviction for boating under the influence is obtained, this may be useful. You may be able to establish negligence per se, which means that a violation of a safety law caused the accident, and the accident is of the type that the safety law was designed to prevent.
An owner of a watercraft may be held responsible for injuries suffered in a boating accident, even if they were not the party operating the boat at the time of the crash. Under O.C.G.A. § 51-1-22, an owner may be liable for injuries caused by the negligent operation of a water vessel, although they will not be liable if the vessel is being used without express or implied consent. Consent is presumed if the vessel is under the control of an immediate family member at the time of the accident.Retain a Boating Accident Lawyer in Savannah
What should be an entertaining outing on a boat may turn catastrophic or fatal if a boat operator is not careful. There are risks involved in boating, and it is important for operators to be held responsible if their negligence causes your injuries. The Savannah boating accident attorneys at the Suthers & Harper may be able to represent you in a claim for damages. Our firm also assists people in Atlanta, Watkinsville, Norcross, Lawrenceville, Roswell, Athens, Marietta, Stone Mountain, Decatur, Pooler, Brunswick and Statesboro, as well as other communities in Oconee, Gwinnett, Clark, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Chatham, Glynn and Bulloch Counties. Contact us by calling 1.800.320.2384 or completing our online form to set up a free consultation. We also can help people who need a car accident attorney or guidance in other motor vehicle collision claims.