Boating Accidents in Alabama
Boating is a relatively safe hobby. But accidents do happen, and when they do, you may be entitled to compensation from the responsible party. An Alabama personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case.
What Is a Reportable Boat Accident?
Federal law requires that certain types of accidents be reported to your state reporting authority. This includes accidents in which:
- A passenger suffers serious injury or dies
- A passenger disappears off a boat and authorities suspect the person is dead or injured
- Property damage to the boat or other property totals $2,000 or more
In general, the boat's operator must report these accidents within 10 days if they caused only property damage or 48 hours if injuries occurred. Alabama boating law is similar to federal law. You are required to file your report with the Marine Police, a division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The state forwards the report to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Whether or not the accident was reportable, you may have a legal claim against the boat's operator or owner if you suffered a loss.
Alcohol and Boating
U.S. Coast Guard boating accident statistics show the use of alcohol to be the most common cause of fatal boating accidents and a contributing factor in 40 percent of all Alabama boat accidents in 2011. Under state law, operating a boat under the influence of alcohol is a crime, which can lead to heavy fines and jail time. An operator who causes an accident while under the influence may face both civil and criminal charges.
Passengers who are drinking may also cause accidents by falling overboard or causing someone else to fall. If you are the victim or the cause of a boating accident due to alcohol, talk with an experienced boating attorney to figure out your options.
Other Causes of Boat Accidents
Most boating accidents are caused by human error, with inexperience or inattention of the operator topping the list. Machinery failure also ranks in the top five. The best way to avoid accidents is to learn proper boating practices, pay attention, and carefully maintain your boat.
Contact an Alabama Boating Accident Lawyer
To protect your rights and avoid missing your deadline to sue, you need to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after a boating accident. To find a boating accident attorney who understands state and federal regulations, call 877-9113-7222.