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The Stages of Boating Accident Lawsuits

If you have been injured in a boating accident and another partys negligence caused the accident, you may be entitled to damages, or compensation for your injury. However, it is important to understand that accidents which happen on water are governed by different laws than accidents that happen on land.

Personal injury lawsuits typically fall under the purview of civil law. For accidents that occur at sea or in interstate or international waterways, however, special maritime law applies.

Finding a Maritime Lawyer

The first stage in your boating accident lawsuit will be to find an experienced maritime lawyer. Maritime lawyers are knowledgeable about maritime law and lawsuits, and will be able to help you better understand your case.

One significant difference between civil personal injury lawsuits and maritime personal injury lawsuits is the statute of limitations, or time in which you have to file a lawsuit.

There is no universal statute of limitations for all civil personal injury cases. It varies by the type of accident and the state in which the accident occurs. However, with boating accidents, maritime law dictates that injured parties have about three years to file a suit. In addition, under certain circumstances, this short window may become even shorter.

This is why it is crucial that you find a maritime lawyer as soon after your accident occurs as possible. Your lawyer will only have a small window of time to gather necessary evidence and contact witnesses in order to file a lawsuit.

Settlements & Boating Accidents

In personal injury cases, it is necessary to show that another partys negligent actions caused your injuries. This is proven by collecting evidence and questioning witnesses.

Whereas auto accidents often leave behind debris and tire marks, boating accidents make evidence collection difficult because they occur on water, which leaves few traces of evidence. However, you should still attempt to gather as much evidence for your case as possible, including photos of your injuries and copies of your medical bills and records.

You should also make sure to provide your attorney with the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident. Your attorney will then contact the witnesses to depose, or interview, them.

Once evidence is collected, witnesses are questioned and the cost of your injuries is tallied, your lawyer will write up a demand letter. This letter will outline your case, notify the other party that you are looking to file a lawsuit, detail your injuries, and state a settlement amount.

The other party can then choose to accept the marine accident settlement amount or refuse it. Often the party will provide a counteroffer. This then kicks off negotiations between your attorney and the attorney for the other party. If no agreement can be reached, then the case will likely go to trial.

Boating Accident Trials

If your case goes to trial, your case will probably begin with jury selection. This is when people are selected to sit on the jury, listen to the evidence, and make a decision.

Once the trial commences, the attorneys will both have the opportunity to give opening statements, which basically set up their overall arguments for the case.

Witnesses are then called to the stand. In boating accidents, witnesses tend to be the person injured, the person or people accused of causing the accident, and any bystanders who witnessed the accident.

The trial ends with the lawyers closing statements, which summarize their arguments. Finally, the jury deliberates and, upon returning, issues a verdict. This ends the trial.