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How Does the Law Protect Victims of Speed Boat Accidents?

Speed boat accidents are not as uncommon as you might think and are often the result of the driver's negligence. If you have been injured by a speed boat and it was due to someone else's negligent behavior, you may be able to seek compensation through either a lawsuit or other legal process.

Statistics on Speed Boat Accidents

Every year the U.S. Coast Guard issues a report on recreational boating accidents. Speed boats make up a large percentage of recreational boats in general, a category that also includes rowboats and pontoon boats.

According to the report, in 2008 there were 4,789 boating accidents overall. These thousands of accidents results in 3,331 injuries and 709 deaths, as well as $54 million worth of property damage.

Oftentimes, these types of accidents are the result of negligent actions such as failing to pay attention while driving. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor to deadly boating accidents.

Motorboats in general, which includes speed boats, account for the majority of accidents. In fact, 43 percent of recorded recreational boating accidents involved a motor boat.

Litigating Speed Boat Accidents

If your speed boat accident was recreational in nature, then you may have grounds to file a lawsuit. However, unlike most personal injury lawsuits, which include auto accidents, speed boat accidents may fall under maritime law depending on where the accident occurred.

Maritime law can be extremely complex. Therefore, it is best to seek out a maritime lawyer who can help you understand your rights under maritime law.

The Jones Act and General Maritime Law

If your job forces you to spend most of your time on a speed boat, or the vessel you work on is involved in an accident with a speed boat and you are injured, you may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act.

The Jones Act compensates workers who work predominantly at sea or within interstate or international waters and who are injured while working on a vessel. The Jones Act makes up for the fact that state workers' compensation laws do not apply at sea.

To receive compensation under the Jones Act, you must prove one of two things.

First, you could prove negligence. Under the Jones Act, if your employer's negligence caused your injuries, then you may be entitled to have certain expenses paid for. Examples of negligent acts can include ignoring a safety statute, failing to provide adequate equipment, failure to provide adequate medical treatment after an injury, and failure to correct an unsafe working condition.

The other way to receive compensation under the Jones Act is to prove that you were subjected to unseaworthy working conditions, which is to say that either the vessel, crew, or equipment was defective in some way. For example, an improperly trained crew or a broken appliance aboard the ship would both constitute unseaworthy conditions.

If you are able to prove either negligence or unseaworthy conditions, then you may be entitled to several forms of damages. These include maintenance, which is pay for room and board costs that you accrued as a result of your injury; cure, which is compensation for medical expenses; unearned wages, which is payback for lost wages; and general damages, such as pain and suffering.