Injured on the Water? All Boaters 60 Years of Age or Younger Are Now Required to Have a Boater’s Education Card!
There is nothing quite as enjoyable as being on the water, particularly in the summer. But when boaters and operators of personal watercraft fail to follow basic boating and safety rules, accidents occur that cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries. In 2011 alone, there were 93 boating accidents in Washington State that resulted in 15 fatalities.
Alcohol consumption and other reckless behavior plays a role in many accidents involving boat or personal watercraft (such as Jet Skis). Inexperience is another common factor. While most of us would never “assume” we could drive simply by picking up a set of car keys, some boaters make similar assumptions about their ability to operate a boat without proper training or any experience. That is why Washington law now mandates that anyone 12 years and older operating a boat with an engine of 15 horsepower or higher must obtain a Boater Education Card. This card requires the boater to have taken a safety education class or passed an equivalency exam. As of 2013, anyone born after December 31, 1954 is now required to possess the card.
What You Need to Know
If you’ve been involved in a boat or water accident, be sure that you protect your legal rights immediately. Follow these guidelines and avoid crucial mistakes:
- DO contact the police or coast guard to report the accident;
- DO seek medical treatment for your injuries;
- DO take photographs of any cuts, scars or any other visible injuries you received;
- DO take photographs, if possible, of the boats or conditions that caused your accident;
- DO contact our offices for further instruction on the handling of your claim;
- DON’T agree to give a recorded statement to the at-fault boater’s insurance company;
- DON’T sign paperwork allowing the at-fault boater’s insurance company to get your medical or employment records without first consulting with us;
- DON’T post photos or information about your accident or injuries on social media;
- DON’T allow the at-fault boater’s insurance company to visit your home or to meet with you.
Limit Your Risks
Follow these 6 steps to minimize your risk of injury on the water:
- Never dive into water unless you know its depth and have checked for potential obstacles
- Always closely supervise children and poor swimmers
- Always have a competent spotter to assist the driver when skiing or wake-boarding
- Never mix alcohol with wakeboarding, waterskiing or other water sports
- Wear bright colors when paddle-boarding
- Most importantly – always wear a life jacket
How We Can Help You
When another boater’s negligence causes you pain, suffering and costly medical bills, Selander O’Brien can:
- Provide immediate assistance in determining which insurance company should be paying your medical bills, and help you get those bills processed and paid;
- Help get your damaged boat paid for and advise you of all of the damages you can recover;
- Investigate all persons and entities who may be responsible for your injuries;
- Determine the value of your claim and assess the fairness of any settlement offers by the insurance company;
- Advise you of the risks and expenses associated with filing a lawsuit, or whether to file a lawsuit;
- Answer any questions or concerns you may have – please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Our Experience and Commitment
Attorney Ken Selander, Jr. is an active boater who regularly enjoys wakesurfing and wakeboarding on Lake Washington with his family and friends. Ken, an experienced boating accident attorney, is fully aware how enjoyable being on the water can be, as well as the dangers that boaters, skiers and swimmers face when irresponsible people operate power boats. Having prepared numerous claims for injured clients, Ken knows how to build an effective case on your behalf. Each case is handled on an individual basis, and your questions and concerns will be responded to promptly. Please contact us for a free and confidential evaluation of your case.
How do I pay for your services?
Our firm handles boating accident cases on what is called a contingency fee basis: earning our attorney’s fee is contingent upon obtaining a favorable settlement or verdict. The fees charged are a percentage of the settlement or verdict that is obtained. In most boating accident cases our fee is 33% of the recovery, but in complex boating cases (products liability) our fee is usually 40%. This fee agreement is different from a traditional hourly fee charged by attorneys who keep track of their time and charge you at their hourly rate. With an hourly fee attorney you must also pay for the attorney’s time as the case proceeds. We are paid at the conclusion of the case and do not charge you along the way. We also advance the costs of pursuing the case (paying for experts, depositions or other case related expenses for which you are responsible) and are repaid when we collect from the negligent party. The costs we advance are separate from the attorney’s fees we charge. To see a copy of our fee agreement or to have any of your questions answered, please contact us.
What if I don’t have a boater’s card? Can I still make a claim?
Yes, not possessing a boater’s card does not defeat a claim you can make. However, in any negligence claim, the conduct of both parties involved in the accident is taken into account. A careful review of your case is needed to determine what effect, if any, your lack of a boater’s education card would have on your claim.
How are my medical bills paid?
If your boat insurance policy includes medical payment coverage, then your bills are paid through your boater’s insurance. If you do not possess medical payment coverage, then your bills will be covered through your health insurance. If you have neither medical payment coverage nor health insurance and another party is responsible for the accident and your injuries, then the responsible party is on the hook for your bills. In that case, however, your bills usually are usually not paid while incurred, but are paid when the case is settled or resolved.
How do I know if I need an attorney?
Most personal injury cases are better resolved with the help of an attorney. If you are involved in a case where a small amount of money is being pursued, you may be better off representing yourself in settlement negotiations or in small claims court. With serious and catastrophic injuries, an attorney is recommended to capture all of your losses and to create greater value for your claim. At the very least, you should have an attorney consultation to assess your claim, to understand your options, and to explain the claims process. We offer free consultations, so please don't hesitate to contact us.
How much money will I recover?
Every case is unique, and we will give you an honest evaluation of your claim once we have reviewed all the necessary information to fully assess your case. The assessment process requires collecting all of your medical records and other pertinent information, as well as meeting with you personally to understand your pain and suffering or “general damages”. Personal injury claims entitle you to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, lost income earning potential, pain and suffering, reduced quality of life, as well other potential compensations.