San Diego Boating Accident Attorney

Boating Accident

Boating Accident Attorney in San Diego, California

If you near the San Diego Bay, you’re probably familiar with the high boat traffic in the area. California has boating laws and safety regulations in place to protect the life of every boater, but not every one follows the law. Inebriated, distracted, unsafe, or otherwise negligent boat operators can pose a serious threat to others out on the water. If you sustained injuries because a boat operator chose not to abide by these safety laws and regulations, you may be entitled to seek compensation from the at-fault party. Talking to a San Diego boating accident attorney can help you understand your legal options and determine what steps you should take next.

Benner Law Firm has successfully helped boating accident victims and their families seek fair compensation in the San Diego Bay area and across California. If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident in San Diego, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Our San Diego personal injury attorney Craig Benner will listen to your story, investigate the details, assess liability, and pursue the compensation you deserve — all while protecting your rights at every turn. Call 619-595-6794 or reach out today to learn more about how we can help with your case.

California Boat Safety Laws You Should Know

California maritime laws prohibit the operation of a vessel that is in any way reckless or negligent and also require the boat operator to navigate at speed appropriate to other traffic, the weather, visibility, and other hazards.

The state also enforces boating under the influence (BUI) violations, just as it does with drivers who choose to drive under the influence (DUI). You can be arrested for operating a boat while your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher.

California also requires boat operators to pass a state-approved boater safety education exam and qualify for a California Boater Card. As of January 1st, 2021, every boater 40 years old or younger must take the exam and earn a card before operating a boat. The age requirement moves to 35 years of age by January 1st of 2022 and continues to rise by five years each year on January 1st. By 2025, boaters of all ages must take the exam and earn their California Boater Card certified by the state to operate a boat.

Contact our San Diego boating accident attorneys if you need information about California boating laws.

Get The Legal Support You Need

Are there different types of San Diego boating accidents?

Any type of accident that causes injuries and/or fatalities, or property damage to a boat is considered a boating accident. The following are some examples of boat accidents in California:

  • Colliding with another boat or other vessels
  • Capsizing of the boat
  • Flooding in the boat
  • Fires in the boat
  • People falling overboard
  • Running the boat aground

If you need advice on whether your situation counts a boating accident, schedule a consultation with our San Diego boat accident attorney to discuss your unique circumstances.

What causes boating accidents in San Diego?

There are several factors that can cause boat accidents in San Diego, but it often involve some form of negligence. Below are just a few examples of the causes of a San Diego boating accident.

Boating at Excessive Speeds

In the same way the there’s a speed limit when it comes to driving a car, there’s also a limit to how fast you can operate a boat. The faster you drive a vehicle, the less control you have over it. Boating at excessive speeds can cause an operator to fail to notice obstacles on the water, or not be able to react in time to avoid it. It can even lead to collision with other vessels, or to capsizing of the boat.

Distracted Boat Operators

When it comes to operating a boat or other vehicle, it’s essential that the driver pays attention to what is happening around them. A distracted boat operator may not be able to catch what’s ahead, which can lead to boat collisions or other types of boating accidents.

Defective or Malfunctioning Boat Parts

Every boat owner is responsible for the proper upkeep and maintenance of their vessel. By conducting regular inspections and maintenance, a boat owner reduces the likelihood of machine or equipment failure while out on the water. If the owner fails to maintain their boat, it can lead to dangerous accidents while boating. Mechanical breakdowns can cause a fire or lead to collisions that affect not just the boater, but everyone else around them too.

Hazardous Weather & Rough Waters

No one can control what the weather is going to be like on any given day. However, a responsible boat operator should be prepared to deal with rough waters, high winds, and less than ideal boating conditions. In these situation, not having a plan on how to get to safety can lead to boat capsizing or even grounding.

Inexperienced Boat Operators

California law requires boaters to have a California Boater Card or be supervised by a licensed adult if they wish to operate a vessel with at least a 15-horsepower motor. Having this card means that the operator has taken a state-approved boater safety course and passed the exam.

With that said, taking a course is not the same as having hands-on experience, and an inexperienced boat operator can cause dangerous boating accidents. If you were the victim of one, our San Diego boat accident attorneys can evaluate your situation whether the boat operator had a valid license or the proper required supervision and determine if negligence caused the incident.

How does a boating accident affect its victims?

A boating accident can lead to various types of physical injuries, emotional damages, and financial repercussions.

Physical Injuries Due to Boat Accidents

Some of the common injuries sustained by boat accident victims include:

  • Deep cuts and wounds
  • Dislocation
  • Back injuries and spinal cord injuries
  • Muscle sprains and strains
  • Neck injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries or TBI

Some of the more extreme injuries you can get from a boating accident includes hypothermia, drowning injuries that can lead to internal organ damage, and even death. If you or your loved one sustained such injuries in a San Diego boating accident, call Benner Law Firm now. We’ll help you navigate through the claims process and make sure you get the compensation you deserve.

Emotional & Psychological Impacts

When your life has been turned upside down by an accident that was not your fault, it’s not surprising to see that most victims suffer from the emotional effects of the accident, too. California personal injury law allows victims to recover damages for pain and suffering caused by the accident. If you want to know whether you can seek compensation for this, speak with our San Diego boating accident attorney about your case.

Financial Effects on Boating Accident Victims

The cost of dealing with the aftermatch of a severe boating accident can greatly affect the life of the victim and their family. Aside from the medical bills for hospitalization, surgery, and lab tests, San Diego boating accident victims also have to pay for medications, rehabilitation, and other costs required to accomodate their injuries. In the worst cases, a breadwinner who got injured in a boat accident may even be unable to go back to work. They can barely afford their living expenses, and can even face eviction, foreclosure, or repossession.

If your life was greatly affected by your boating accident injuries, reach out to a San Diego personal injury attoney. Here at Benner Law Firm, we understand how much your life has been affected by your injuries. We are dedicated to helping San Diego families seek compensation from the responsible party, so they focus on recovering from the accident. Schedule a consultation with us if you wish to file a boating accident claim in California and the San Diego Bay area.

FAQs on San Diego Boating Accidents

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Read on to find answers to frequently asked questions about California boating accidents.

What should I do after a boating accident in San Diego?

The first thing you should do after any accident is to seek medical attention. It’s also best to file a report about the acciden, since the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) requires you to file a written accident report for the following:

  • If the accident resulted in property damage.
  • If the accident caused someone’s death, disappearance, or injuries.
  • If the accident led to the complete loss of a boat or vessel.

Generally, the boat owner or operator should file this report within 24 hours or not longer than 10 days (depending on the circumstances). However, another person can also file a report on behalf of the operator or owner if they are unable to do so.

Who should I talk to first—an insurance company or a San Diego boating accident attorney?

It’s always best to speak with an attorney first. Insurance companies only have profit in mind, while a personal injury attorney has their client’s best interest in mind. If you talk to your insurance adjuster first, you risk saying something that will give them a reason to lessen the value or outright deny your insurance claim. On the other hand, an experienced boating accident lawyer can advise you on what you should and should not say, as well as negotiate on your behalf to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

Can I get compensated for my San Diego boating accident injuries?

In any accident or incident involving boats that cause injury — or even death — someone, or some entity like a manufacturer, must be shown to have been negligent for you to recover compensatory damages.

For instance, if you’ve been struck and injured by another boat, you must be able to show in court that:

  • The boat operator owed you a duty of care
  • The boat operator breached that duty of care
  • That breach of care was the cause of your injuries

Remember, under California law and regulations, boat operators are required to operate their vehicles safely — or in other words — to exercise a reasonable duty of care.

Under a personal injury claim, you can recover compensation for medical expenses, loss of income, disability, and any additional pain and suffering. Though California is considered a pure comparative negligence state — one of only four nationwide — this means that you can recover damages even if you are found to be 99 percent at fault for the accident. California state courts will reduce your reward by the percentage of fault that you were assigned for the accident.

For example, if you are found to be 20 percent at fault for a boating accident and are awarded $100,000 in compensation, you will only be eligible to collect $80,000 to account for the twenty percent of fault that you were assigned for contributing to the accident.

How much compensation can I seek in my boating accident injury claim?

This is a question we get asked a lot, and the answer is—it depends. Every case has its own unique circumstances that affects the amount of compensation you can pursue in your claim. However, a good rule of thumb in personal injury cases is that the more losses you suffered, the more compensation you can get.

When you retain our San Diego boating accident attorney at Benner Law Firm, we will take a look at your claim and determine both the economic and non-economic losses you suffered to arrive at an reasonable estimate. It’s important to note that his is just an estimate, and the actual amount you will receive will vary depending on several factors, such as whether or not you decide to settle or take your claim to court.

Do I pursue my San Diego boating acccident claim in state or federal court?

When you’re considering finling an injury claim, there is also the question of which court to pursue your claim in – state or federal. Article III of the U.S. Constitution says the federal court system has jurisdiction over admiralty and maritime cases, so your lawsuit may have to begin in federal court. Our San Diego boating accident attorney will guide you on the best course of action, as personal injury claims against boat owners can also originate in state court, should circumstances dictate that approach.

Who is liable for injuries in San Diego boating accidents? Is it always the boat owner?

Just because you’re the boat owner doesn’t mean you are automatically the one at fault. Depending on your unique situations, the at-fault party could be any of the following:

  • Boat owner
  • Boat operator
  • Manufacturer for boat parts
  • Passenger/s

When you’re trying to determine liability in a boating accident or other types of accidents, it’s important to evaluate what caused the accident itself and who was the negligent party.

What is the statute of limitations for pursuing an injury claim for boating accidents in San Diego, CA?

If you sustained boating accident injuries in San Diego, you need to file a claim within the time limits set by California laws. If you try to fbring a lawsuit after your statute of limitations, you will no longer be able to seek compensation from the party at fault.

If the boating accident happened onshore or in waters under California jurisdiction, you only have up to two years to file a boating accident claim. However, if you’re filing against a government entity, that limit is greatly reduced to just half a year. Whatever your circumstances are, it’s best to speak with a San Diego boat accident attorney to find out the statute of limitations for your case and get assistance with your injury claim.

Do I need a San Diego boating accident attorney? Can I file a claim without one?

You can choose to file an insurance claim or seek compensation on your own, but this comes with a lot of disadvantages. Without the help of a San Diego boating accident attorney, you risk not getting the full amount that you’re entitled to. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to settle quickly so they can get you to accept a lowball offer. An experienced attorney can determine the actual value of your claim and negotiate with your insurance company so you can get a fair compensation for your injuries.

If you’re looking for a boating accident attorney in San Diego, give us a call. We’ll help you prepare your claim and guide you through the process so you can seek the full amount of recovery that you deserve.

How long will my boating accident claim take in San Diego, CA?

That will depends on the details of your case. Some boating accident claims take a year or two to settle, but others can take longer or shorter. Even a small difference in your claim or circumstances can greatly affect how much longer or shorter it will take to complete your personal injury case. The best way to get an estimate on the duration of your San Diego boating accident claim is to discuss your situation with your attorney.

Do I need to go to trial for my San Diego boating accident claim?

It depends. Most parties prefer not to proceed with litigation, since court trials cost more and take longer to complete. In most cases, both parties will try to arrive at an agreement, whether it’s through settlement, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution methods.

However, it’s possible that the unique circumstances of your case make it difficult to negotiate and agree on a settlement offer. That’s why it’s important to hire an experienced San Diego boating accident attorney who will carefully examine the facts of your case and advise you on whether you should proceed with negotiations or take your case to court.

Call Our San Diego Boating Accident Attorneys to Seek Compensation For Your Injuries!

The Benner Law Firm has extensive knowledge and experience helping individuals and families who have been injured in boating accidents. Our personal injury law firm proudly serves clients in San Diego and the areas nearby, including Chula Vista, Escondido, El Cajon, Oceanside, and throughout California. If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident, don’t face this challenge on your own. Reach out to our San Diego boating accident attorney immediately to schedule a free case consultation and put our experience on your side.


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