Can I Sue for Boating Accident Injuries in Michigan?

Boating accident injuries in Michigan can be very serious, often causing temporary or permanent disability and devastating a person’s financial stability as medical bills pile up and income halts because of their inability to work. But if the boating accident that caused your injuries was due to someone’s carelessness, neglect or recklessness, you may be able to recover damages that can alleviate the financial hardship of injuries and compensate you for some of the suffering you experience.

However, boating and personal watercraft accidents aren’t just covered by Michigan personal injury laws like other kinds of injuries. They may also be covered by maritime laws, which are very complex and can differ greatly from personal injury laws. Because of this, if you’ve been injured in an accident involving boats or personal watercraft, it’s important to be represented by a personal injury attorney experienced in boating accidents and maritime law. The Michigan boating accident attorneys at Sachs Waldman, P.C. have years of experience representing people injured in boating accidents and are happy to give you a free initial consultation regarding your boating injury case.

Determining Whether to Sue Over Boating Accident Injuries in Michigan

In determining whether to sue someone over boating accident injuries, most personal injury attorneys look at three primary factors:

  1. Did someone owe the victim a duty of care and did failure to uphold that duty result in injuries?
  2. Is there sufficient evidence to win the case?
  3. If the lawsuit is won, is it possible to collect on the verdict or settlement?

Duty of care — Essentially, we are asking whether someone acted in a way they shouldn’t have or failed to act in a way they should have so that the victim was injured. Anyone operating a boat or watercraft owes a certain duty of care to the passengers of the vessel and to other boaters and swimmers on the same body of water. Law and common sense demand that boat operators be vigilant and careful in protecting the safety of passengers, other boaters and swimmers. However, this does automatically make them liable for all boating accident injuries involving their vessel. If the operator was drunk, willfully violating boating laws or common-sense practices or driving recklessly, they may be liable However, if the accident resulted from weather conditions or other circumstances beyond the operator’s control, it is less likely that they are liable. If liability can’t be established, then an injury victim won’t succeed in a lawsuit. Sometimes, though, lawsuits are initiated as part of the process of determining liability.

Sufficient Evidence — A judge or jury cannot award a verdict for damages on an injury victim’s word alone. There must be proof that the injuries were caused by the boating accident in question and that the defendant is liable for the accident and subsequent injuries. There must also be evidence that the amount of damages sought is justified. The most difficult of these to prove is a defendant’s liability. There must be testimony from witnesses, confession from the defendant, or other evidence demonstrating that the defendant was violating his duty of care toward the injury victim. A post-accident blood-alcohol content test, for example, may show that the boat operator was most likely drunk at the time of the accident. Pictures of the boat operator with beer can in his hand while at the wheel or a U.S. Coast Guard report stating that empty alcohol containers were found on board after the accident are other examples of evidence. While one piece of evidence or one person’s testimony is rarely enough to win a liability decision in court, if enough of these kinds of evidence are available a strong case can be made.

Collection of verdict or settlement — In Michigan, boats and boating accidents are not covered under the state’s no-fault insurance laws the way cars, trucks and motorcycles are in an automobile accident. Owners of boats and personal watercraft are not required to carry insurance for their vessels. Although many boat owners do carry boating insurance, the insurance company issuing the policy, not the state, sets the limits and conditions for claims it will pay.

If you’ve been injured in a Michigan boating accident, it’s best to have your case evaluated by a personal injury attorney experienced in boating accident injuries and maritime law. An attorney can help you determine who may be liable for your injuries, whether there is sufficient evidence to support your case, and whether it is likely you’ll be able to collect on any verdict or settlement awarded to you should you win.

In Michigan, the boating accident attorneys at Sachs Waldman, P.C., have extensive experience in boating related injuries and maritime law. They can assist in identifying and obtaining evidence and testimony for your case and help you obtain compensation for your medical costs and other damages when you’ve been involved in a Michigan boating accident. Call our Detroit personal injury attorneys at 1-800-638-6722 to schedule a free consultation.

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