The Stages of a Ferry Boat Accident Lawsuit
If you are injured because of a ferry boat or while on a ferry boat, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit in order to collect damages. Damages are intended to compensate you for such things as medical expenses and loss of wages as a result of your injuries.
However, ferry boat accidents are not dictated by the same laws as other types of accidents that occur on land. Because of this, it is important that you understand the differences in law and that you hire an attorney with the right set of skills and experience before pursuing a lawsuit.
Ferry Boat Accident Basics
Maritime law can differ greatly from civil law. For one thing, the statute of limitations can be drastically shorter for water-based accidents than for accidents that occur on land. In fact, most ferry boat accidents will only allow a person to file suit within three years of the injury. In addition, in some circumstances this window to file suit could be even shorter.
This is why it is best to contact a maritime lawyer as soon as possible after you sustain an injury.
In addition, because it is much more difficult to collect evidence for accidents that occur on water than it is for accidents that occur on land, it may be more difficult for you to establish a lawsuit in the first place. Once again, this is a question for your maritime personal injury attorney.
Evidence Collection and Depositions
Once you have found a maritime lawyer, he or she will begin collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses.
As mentioned, evidence collection in a boating accident can be difficult; however, it is necessary to build a case. Evidence in a ferry boat accident may include photos of your injuries, log entries from the ferry, and copies of your medical records and medical bills.
Your attorney will also begin deposing any witnesses, which could include bystanders and ferry crew members. During this deposition process, your lawyer will ask witnesses questions. A court reporter will transcribe their answers, which are given under oath.
Sending a Demand Letter
Your attorney will then draft a demand letter. This letter will detail your case, your intention to file suit against the party that caused your injuries, the extent of your injuries, and the amount that you are seeking in order to avoid going to trial.
The other party will then have a chance to respond. If they accept your settlement offer, then the matter is over. However, they will likely respond with a counteroffer that is lower than your initial offer. Your lawyer will likely continue to negotiate with the allegedly negligent party to come to an agreed upon a settlement amount.
If, however, no settlement agreement can be made, the case may have to go to trial.
Going to Trial
At the beginning of the trial, jurors will be selected. Jurors are responsible for listening to the evidence and issuing a verdict. Once the jury is chosen and the trial commences, attorneys for both sides give their opening statements.
Next, both attorneys have the opportunity to present evidence to support their arguments. They also can call witnesses to the stand. These witnesses will likely include you, crew members of the ferry boat, and any passengers on the ferry boat who may have witnessed the accident.
Finally, the lawyers each give their closing arguments, which summarize their overall cases. The jury then deliberates. Once they return, the verdict will be read. This will end the case unless there is some sort of appeal.