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How Does the Law Protect Jet Boat Accident Victims?



Jet boats are fast-performing marine vehicles often used for recreational purposes. If you are involved in a jet boat accident, you may sustain some serious injuries and large medical expenses. Fortunately, there are means to seek compensation for your expenses in some situations.

Jet Boat Accident Basics

Every year, the U.S. Coast Guard compiles statistics on the occurrence of recreational boat accidents for the year. In 2008 alone, there were 4,789 accidents. The total property damage amounted to $54 million dollars, while the human toll was 709 deaths and 3,331 injuries.

According to the same report, the majority of these accidents were caused by careless or reckless operation, inattention on the part of the boats operator, lack of a proper lookout, inexperience of the boating operator, and passenger or skier behavior.

In addition, alcohol plays a major role in many boating accidents, especially fatal accidents. In fact, 17 percent of recreational boating deaths in 2008 listed alcohol as the leading factor.

As for vehicle types, open motorboats result in the most accidents. According to jet-boat-accident statistics, these types of open motorboats accounted for 43 percent of accidents overall.

Litigation and Jet Boat Accidents

Under civil law, a person injured, either mentally or physically, has the right to file a lawsuit in order to recover damages suffered as a result of their injuries. These types of lawsuits fall under an area of tort law known as personal injury.

Under personal injury law, someones unreasonably unsafe or negligent actions must cause your injuries for you to win your case in court. In a boating accident, the defendant (the one who allegedly caused the injuries) can be anyone from the boat's driver to the manufacturer. It is your attorneys job to prove in court that the defendants negligent actions caused your injuries.

However, in the case of a jet boat accident, maritime law may take precedence over state law. Maritime law is very complex and differs greatly from civil law. For example, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury suit under maritime law is often much shorter than under civil law. You should seek out a maritime injury lawyer to assist with your lawsuit.

The Jones Act & General Maritime Law

Finally, if you were working for your employer when the jet boat accident occurred, then your injuries may fall under the Jones Act and general maritime law.

To be covered under the Jones Act, you must meet several requirements. These include the following:

  • The vessel you were injured on must be in navigation either at sea or in a body of water connected to either interstate or international commerce
  • Much of your work time must be spent on the vessel
  • You must be a worker on the vessel, meaning you must contribute to the work of the vessel

These requirements can cover a wide variety of seamen, including fishermen, transportation workers, tugboat workers, ferry boat workers, and oil platform workers.

You can receive compensation under the Jones Act if an unseaworthy condition aboard the vessel caused your injury. Unseaworthy simply means a part of the vessel was not reasonably fit, such as a defective piece of equipment.

You can also receive compensation if you can prove your employer was negligent, including not following safety guidelines or providing inadequate equipment for a job.

Under the Jones Act, you are entitled to seek lost wages, medical expenses, and what is known as maintenance. Maintenance is expenses for room and board spent ashore after an injury takes place.