Tragically, boating accidents and personal watercraft injuries occur all the time. Not too long ago, there was a fatal boat collision on Bankhead Lake. Wheeler Lake, here in Madison County, and Guntersville Lake over in Marshall County are both among the top four best Alabama lakes for water and boating tourism.
Like driving a car, boaters and watercraft operators have a duty to not cause injury. Sadly, some boats and watercraft — like a rented Wave Runner or Jetski — are captained by people who have absolutely no experience boating and who do not understand how boating is different than driving a car. It is a recipe for people getting seriously injured. If you were injured in a boating accident out on the water at Joe Wheeler State Park, you need to contact an experienced and skilled personal injury attorney like the ones at Hornby, Watson & Hornsby.
Rules of the Water are Same as Rules of the Road
Rules that apply to cars, trucks and motor vehicles apply to boat owners and boat drivers, as well. If you are injured on the water, the owner and/or driver/operator of the boat can be liable for your injuries if they were negligent. To establish negligence, you must prove four elements: duty, breach, causation, and injury.
As with cars, every boat owner and driver owes the following duties to passengers, others on the water, and those nearby onshore/dock:
● Duty to be careful
● Duty to operate the boat safely given the water and weather conditions
● Duty to keep a lookout
● Duty to avoid collisions and injury
Many fail to realize that boating is very different and unique from driving a car. Waves act on and have significant effects on a boat; thus, another boat that is many yards away can still impact your boat. Likewise, submerged obstacles like sandbars, rocks, tree limbs, and even large fish present very different challenges. Here are some common examples of behaviors that breach or violate the duties listed above:
● Excessive speed
● Hitting waves or wakes at an unsafe speeds or angles
● Ejections of passengers due to improper operation, speed, angles, or hitting waves or underwater objects
● Contact with the propeller
● Failing to see a water skier or other on the water
● Not understanding navigational rules and warning signs/signals/buoys
● Collision with another watercraft, a pier, or a bridge
● Overcrowding a boat or overloading a boat
● Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs
What Should I do? Get Immediate Medical Care
If you have been injured in a Madison County boating accident, the first thing to do is stay safe, swim to shore, or find floatation and get immediate medical care. Your health is the most important thing.
Go to the Hospital as Soon as Pain Presents Itself
After your immediate health is secured, we here at Hornsby, Watson & Hornsby recommend you go to the hospital as soon as pain presents itself. Often, trauma injuries do not present at the scene. There is the adrenaline rush that can some time mask a trauma. The cold water can also mask an injury. Plus, some injuries such as muscle strains and other soft tissue damage do not immediately register pain.
If you feel okay at the marina, but then start to feel aches and pains later or the next morning, we here at Hornsby, Watson & Hornsby recommend you see your family physician as soon as possible. As said, some injuries do not present symptoms until some time after the accident.
Write Down Some Notes on What Happened
At some point, it is important to make a few notes about what happened. Nothing fancy is required; just write down what you remember and put a date on the page. Write down what you remember about the following:
● What happened? collision, ejection, etc.
● If another boat was involved, when did you see the other boat/watercraft?
● What were you doing?
● What did you see the other driver/operator doing?
● Weather and lighting conditions
● Time of day
● Do you remember any witnesses?
All of this information might be useful for insurance claims and if litigation is necessary. Memories fade and a few notes will help you remember details later. You should do this even if you think the other boater was at fault. You might have to prove your case at trial.
Contact Our Huntsville, Alabama Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a Madison County, Alabama boating accident caused by the wrongful acts of another boater, contact an experienced Huntsville and Madison County personal injury and accident attorney like the ones at Hornsby, Watson & Hornsby. We have the experience, we know the law, we can help you understand your legal rights. Call today. HW&H has over 27 years of experience. You can email us or call (256) 414-9803, toll-free (866) 986-1371. Contact us today.