Although Atlanta, along with most of Georgia, is landlocked, there’s no shortage of rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams for recreation. Lake Lanier, Robin Lake, Lake Acworth, Lake Allatoona, and the Chattahoochee River are just a stone’s throw away from the bustling city. Here residents and visitors alike enjoy beaches and plenty of recreational water opportunities.
Unfortunately, as many maritime attorneys will tell you, things don’t always go as planned when people forget to be careful while boating in Atlanta. Accidents are bound to happen. People who are merely trying to have a good time, experience the outdoors, and socialize get hurt. If this has happened to you, the Atlanta boating accident attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm are here to help.
We are humbled to represent injured clients who were in the following water accidents:
- Jet ski accidents
- Kayak accidents
- Canoe accidents
- Water skiing accidents
- Recreational boating accidents
- Commercial boating accidents
- Personal watercraft accidents
- Party boat accidents
- Pontoon boat accidents
- Sailboat accidents
- Motorboat accidents
What Causes Atlanta Boat Accidents and Injuries?
Dozens of boating accidents occur every year in the State of Georgia, many of them right in the Atlanta area. Recently, these types of injury accidents have been happening at a greater frequency. For example, between 2015 and 2018, the number of Georgia’s boating accidents increased by more than 13 percent. The good news is that while the total number of accidents increased, fatal accidents decreased.
According to the United States Coast Guard, the leading causes of these accidents include:
- Collision with a recreational vehicle
- Collision with a fixed object
- Falling overboard
- Inexperienced operators
- Operator inattention
- Inadequate (or missing) safety equipment
- Boating under the influence (BUI)
- Defective vessels or safety equipment
Other causes of boating accidents in and around Atlanta include bad weather conditions, limited visibility, overcrowded waterways, and navigation rules violations.
Boating Accidents and Negligence
No matter what exactly causes boating accidents, at the root of most accidents is negligence. Negligence is the failure to behave in a way that someone else would behave in the same or similar circumstances or the failure to take proper care in doing something.
In Georgia, more than one individual or party might be negligent in causing a boating accident. Under state law, you can potentially hold each one of them liable.
People or entities that might be liable for your damages include:
- Boating operators
- Boat passengers or occupants
- Boat rental companies
- Boat manufacturers or retailers
- Employers of negligent parties
- Government agencies
When you hire an Atlanta boat accident lawyer from Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm, we work hard to uncover all sources of potential compensation for your injuries. This includes identifying all parties who could be responsible for your accident. Each party that accepts their potential liability through a settlement offer or is assigned liability in litigation will pay for their portion of your damages.
For example, let’s say you are involved in a boat accident linked to a defective boat part, and the boat rental company knew that there was a recall for the defective part. Since the defective part manufacturer sold it and the boat rental company knowingly let you rent the boat without adhering to the recall, they could both be liable for your resulting damages.
An experienced Atlanta boating accident attorney could negotiate a settlement agreement with one or both parties. Suppose one or both parties refuse to offer you a fair settlement. In that case, your maritime injury attorney can help you file a lawsuit against one or both parties to seek adequate compensation.
If your case goes to court, the court will assign each liable party a percentage of fault for the accident. In our scenario, the jury might determine the boating rental company to be 30 percent at fault while the part manufacturer would be 70 percent to blame. If your damages totaled $100,000, the rental company would owe you $30,000, and the part manufacturer would owe you $70,000.
Common Serious Boating Accident Injuries
Boating accidents can lead to many different types of injuries. Some of these injuries are minor, requiring only basic first aid, if any at all. In comparison, other injuries can be life- and limb-threatening and debilitate someone for the rest of their life.
Some of the most common serious boating injuries we see in our clients include:
- Drowning: Since boating is an activity done on the water, it’s no surprise that such accidents can drown people. Even for people who know how to swim, drowning is still a common cause of death in a boating accident. Accidents can pull people underwater or cause brain trauma before falling into the water, making it impossible for them to swim to safety.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): Boating accidents can cause a TBI in two ways. The first can happen due to oxygen deprivation when someone is submerged underwater or exposed to substantial amounts of carbon monoxide, for example, from the running engines of boats docked or idling. The second is from an impact to the head, such as being thrown against a wall, hard object, or bulkhead during a collision with another water vessel, structure, or underwater obstruction.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI): Spinal cord injuries can result from an impact, such as a collision. They can be the result of spinal compression. This type of compression typically happens when a boat bounces up and down on the water because of strong waves or wake from another boat. Disc herniations are common spinal compression injuries.
- Lacerations: Most boats depend on an exposed propeller that spins at high speed to move. If someone gets too close to the moving propeller or a boat driver isn’t paying close attention to those in the water, serious injuries can occur. Quick-moving propeller blades can cause deep lacerations or even amputate an arm or leg.
- Broken bones: Typically, boating accidents involve some kind of force. While human bones protect and provide structure to the body, they are still vulnerable to fracturing or snapping when enough force comes down upon them. Broken arms, legs, ribs, pelvis, and hips are common in boating accidents.
- Whiplash: Whiplash is a neck injury to the soft tissues caused by a sudden force that moves the head and body in a traumatic and violent manner. Although whiplash injuries are usually associated with motor vehicle accidents, they also frequently occur in boating accidents.
- Electrocution: Significant electrical currents are necessary for electrical systems and appliances aboard most boats. Standing water and even poor maintenance increase the risk of electrocution injuries. Electrocution can cause the heart to lose rhythm (fibrillation) and suffer electrical burns, among other severe injuries.
Identifying Your Damages After a Georgia Boating Accident
After an Atlanta boating accident, you might have a valid claim against one or more at-fault parties. Injured parties in Georgia can usually recover both economic and non-economic awards for the damages they suffer.
Economic damages intend to make up for the financial costs and losses of your accident and injuries. Not only can these damages include what your injuries cost you currently but also what they’re likely to cost you down the road.
Compensable economic damages can include:
- Medical bills
- Out of pocket medical expenses
- Nursing care
- Property damage
- Lost income and wages during your recovery
- Temporary and/or permanent disability
By receiving economic damages, you should be back in the financial position you were in before you got hurt. This is the ultimate goal and purpose of filing an injury claim.
Non-economic damages aim to compensate for the injuries and consequences of your accident that are difficult to value. Unfortunately, these types of losses don’t come with a receipt and are subjective, unlike their economic counterparts. The value of non-economic damages varies from one person and case to the next.
These can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Much more so than economic damages, non-economic damages are typically the root of contentions and disputes between the at-fault parties and injured parties. Sometimes you need experts to back up your demands for compensation. At Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm, we have access to the experts you need to prove your claim. They will go on the record explaining how your injuries will likely impact your life. Such experts make it more difficult for insurers and negligent parties to minimize the trauma you’ve endured because of the accident.
While much less common, punitive damages are sometimes appropriate in boating accident cases that end up in litigation. Economic and non-economic damages compensate injured parties for their losses. On the other hand, punitive damages punish the at-fault party and prevent future similar behaviors from them and others. Your Atlanta boat accident lawyer can determine if these types of damages might be available in your case.
How Insurance Coverage Affects Your Boat Accident Case
Even if someone else was at fault for your boating accident, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will recover monetary damages from that person. If the liable party has no boaters’ insurance and no assets, they can’t pay for your damages.
Many victims and at-fault parties alike are unaware that auto insurance doesn’t cover injuries in boating accidents. Some homeowner’s insurance policies might provide insurance coverage for these injuries.
However, not everyone has homeowner’s insurance coverage, and every boat owner has boating insurance coverage through their homeowner’s policy. You can’t always file a claim against your own homeowner’s insurance for this type of accident. In contrast to motor vehicle coverage that typically includes uninsured benefits, homeowners’ insurance policies rarely cover the behaviors of others who don’t have the necessary boating insurance coverage in place.
The Statute of Limitations for Boat Accidents in Georgia
After an Atlanta boat accident, you only have a limited amount of time to demand compensation for your injuries, no matter their severity. Under Georgia state law, the statute of limitations or deadline for boat accident cases is generally two years from the date of the accident or the discovery of the injury. In some cases, it might be weeks or months until you discover that you suffered injuries.
If you’re filing a wrongful death claim after a fatal boating accident, the clock begins to run the day your loved one passes away. If your claim involves injuries to a minor child or if you cannot locate the person who caused your accident, a longer statute of limitations will apply. However, it’s important to note that you might have a diminished window of time to assert your legal rights if you believe a government agency or employee is at fault for your injuries. You can be certain that you’ll lose the right to recover a financial award through the civil court system if you don’t start legal action on time.
Atlanta Boating Accident FAQs
In just one year, 122 boating accidents in Georgia took the lives of 23 individuals and severely injured many others. Boating and water recreation comes with inherent risks. Still, no one signs up to become the victim of negligence while trying to enjoy the outdoors. If you or your loved one was injured or killed while boating, you likely have many questions. The Atlanta boating accident lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm answer some of your most common questions here. If you don’t see the answer to your question or would like further legal assistance, reach out to us today.
Why are boat accidents so common in Atlanta?
Atlanta residents love the outdoors. Optimal weather conditions, sunshine, and beautiful landscapes draw many to the water for recreation. However, accidents happen. In fact, they are common for several reasons in Georgia, many of them similar to the reasons car accidents occur.
The most common causes of Atlanta boating accidents are:
- Alcohol and drug use. The leading cause of fatal boating accidents in Georgia is intoxication. Boating under the influence is illegal in Georgia. The law views it the same as driving a motor vehicle under the influence. Anyone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.08 is considered intoxicated under Georgia law. Open containers are legal on boats, and passengers can drink. However, those operating boats have to stay sober and alert to operate the vessel safely. If a boat operator is involved in an accident and found to have a BAC over the legal limit, they are negligent.
- Distraction. It’s challenging to see underwater. This fact demands that all boat operators pay close attention to water conditions and any objects in the area of their boats, such as other boats, swimmers, animals, and other objects or protrusions in the water. Diverting their attention for even just a moment can lead to an accident under some conditions.
- Boat operator inexperience. Like driving a passenger vehicle, operating a boat safely and effectively demands experience. Less experienced boat operators are more likely to make innocent mistakes that might cause accidents. Newer boat operators must take extra precautions when they are operating a boat.
- Improper lookout. If a watercraft is large, more than one boat operator or a lookout may be necessary. Having an extra set of eyes on areas near the boat that the boat operator can’t see can significantly decrease the risk of accidents.
- Increased speeds. Also, like operating a car on the road, boating at excessive speeds is nothing less than dangerous. It will increase the risk of a boating accident. Boating at high speeds makes it more difficult to notice hazards and stop suddenly to avoid them. The more time a boat’s operator has to stop after seeing trouble, the better the outcome of the situation.
- Mechanical failure. Sometimes, boat engines can fail or emit dangerously high carbon monoxide gas levels, potentially causing passengers to become ill. Regularly inspecting a boat and ensuring it’s in proper working condition can help reduce mechanical issues and risks.
- Poor weather conditions. Bad weather, including high-speed winds, storms, and rain, often makes navigating the open water more challenging and grows the risk of getting into an accident. Even a particularly sunny day with increased temperatures can lead to the same result as the conditions can make passengers more prone to dehydration and heat-related conditions. Boat operators and passengers should always check the weather forecast before heading out and pack the boat accordingly.
Did my Atlanta boating accident result from negligence?
If you get injured on a motorboat, sailboat, or some other watercraft, you must show that your injury was the result of someone’s negligence. If you can’t prove this, you can’t recover damages from that person or party. Getting hurt doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone was negligent. Negligence is the failure to use due or reasonable care. Boat owners and operators, as well as other parties like municipalities, owe a duty of care to others on the water.
When you hire us, we work tirelessly to prove that someone failed to act with reasonable care, and because of such negligence, you suffered injuries.
What are the types of Atlanta boating accidents?
Most pleasure boating accidents take place because:
- Your boat hits another boat
- Your boat hits a wave
- Your boat hits another boat’s wake
- Your boat hits a submerged rock, object, or the land
Collision with another boat. Typically, when two motorboats collide, any injured passengers on either boat might have a valid legal case against the two boat operators, similar to a car accident case. In a collision between a sailboat and a motorboat, the motorboat operator is generally more likely to blame than the sailboat. This is because safe boating practices require motorboats to keep out of the way of sailboats. Like road motorists are typically more at-fault than bicyclists and pedestrians when an accident occurs, motorboat operators have a greater duty of care.
Hitting another boat’s wake. When a boat encounters a big wake or wave, the powerful and sudden jolt can knock the passengers down, out of their seat, or even overboard. Unfortunately, legal liability for a wake accident is often difficult to determine. Federal and state boating laws and regulations, along with safe boating practices, require the boat’s operator to keep a proper lookout for anything that might be a danger to their watercraft and its passengers.
However, the boat operator’s liability in a wake accident will usually depend on the situation, such as the:
- Size of the wake
- Boat’s speed
- Boat traffic in the vicinity
- Passengers receiving a warning that the boat was approaching a big wake
- Location of the injured individual—whether they were on a motorboat or a sailboat
Depending on the location of the accident and the boating traffic in the vicinity, the operator of the watercraft that created the wake might also be negligent. For instance, if the boats were in a no-wake zone, such as near a marina or in inner harbors, then any wake is a violation of boating safety rules. The operator causing the wake is negligent. Another example is if a boat was rushing through a crowded area and leaving behind a large wake. Under these circumstances, the boat’s operator could be found negligent for causing too large of a wake for the area. On the other hand, if the accident occurred in an isolated area, then the other boat operator is probably not at fault for a wake accident.
Hitting a wave. An accident caused by hitting a wave is like a wake accident. However, there’s no other boat operator to hold liable. Whether the boat’s operator was negligent or not will usually depend on the circumstances listed above.
Colliding with a submerged rock, other object, or the land. Even in perfect weather and visibility conditions, boats can hit an underwater object or a rock. In bad weather and low visibility, boats can run aground or even crash into a jetty or the coastline. The boat operator’s liability for hitting a fixed object depends on the circumstances. Suppose the operator has nautical charts for the area, is operating the watercraft cautiously and slowly but still hits a rock. In that case, they will probably not be found negligent. However, if they are zipping along in thick fog, without a GPS or charts, and run into a jetty, negligence will apply.
Not having proper safety gear on board. Federal and state boating safety laws and regulations mandate that even small pleasure boats have various kinds of safety equipment on board.
These can include:
- Life jackets for each passenger
- Throwable life rings
- Navigational lights
- Loud whistles
- Fire extinguishers
Not having the proper safety equipment onboard may not cause a boating accident, it can hinder rescue efforts if one occurs. Whistles and flares allow the passengers to signal passing boats if their vessel becomes disabled. Life jackets and life rings make it a lot easier to get an individual who has gone overboard back to safety. Lacking adequate safety equipment gear on board could result in a negligence claim against the boat’s owner or operator.
When should I contact an Atlanta boating accident lawyer?
Boating accidents take victims by surprise and happen when they least expect them. They also come with many hassles and tasks. You might find yourself still trying to understand and accept that you were in an accident, recovering from your physical injuries while trying to deal with the logistical aftermath and run your everyday life. Contacting an Atlanta boat accident attorney might be the last thing on your mind at this busy and draining time of life. However, after receiving appropriate medical care, it should be the first thing.
By hiring an experienced attorney, you’ll have an advocate on your side who knows what needs doing at this time. A lawyer can help you save time and allow you to focus on your healing and getting your life back together. The sooner you hire one, the sooner you can get the help you need.
In addition, Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations for boating accident victims. The statute of limitations is a deadline for filing a legal injury case. The clock starts ticking on the day of the accident, or if you discover your injury at a later date, from the date of discovery. From then, you have two years to file a legal case. If you don’t file within the state-mandated deadline, the at-fault party will have the court throw your case out. You won’t have any legal rights or options after the statute of limitations expires.
Two years might seem like plenty of time; however, your Atlanta boating accident attorney needs time to craft a successful case on your behalf. They need to assess and investigate what happened to cause your boat accident and injuries. Depending on the complexity of your case or injuries, they may need to hire experts to prove your claim. There is a legal process that they must follow before formal litigation, including sending a demand letter to the at-fault party or their insurance company seeking compensation for your damages.
Time is of the essence. The sooner you reach out to Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm, the better the chance you have of maximizing your recovery, both physically and financially.
What are contingency fees in Atlanta boating accidents?
In general, contingency fees are payments based on fulfilling certain conditions. In the legal realm, contingency fees are payments for services paid only after a settlement agreement or jury award. Our attorneys work solely on contingency fees. You pay us upfront nothing to secure our services and representation. Sadly, many injury victims miss out on the legal help and, therefore, the money they deserve for their injuries and damages because they think they need money upfront to hire an Atlanta boating accident attorney.
We know that most claimants don’t have large amounts of money to pay for an attorney. They usually struggle to pay their bills because they have missed work and now have additional medical bills to pay. We take on the financial risk of settling or litigating your claim. Once we negotiate a full and fair settlement on your behalf or successfully litigate your case, your compensation will pay our predetermined percentage of contingency fees.
Besides using contingency fees, we never charge for consultations. Suppose you were injured in a boating accident or sustained some other injury that was potentially the fault of a negligent person or party. In that case, we will meet with you for free. During this consultation, we can assess your case, determine if you have a valid legal claim, and, if so, how much it might be worth.
Our legal team is ready to help boating accident victims in Atlanta. Reach out to us today to learn more.
Seek Help From a Skilled Boat Accident Attorney Today
As local maritime lawyers will tell you, despite boating being both an exciting and relaxing activity, people can still get hurt due to the negligence of others. Suppose you suffer injuries in a boating accident due to the negligence of someone else. In that case, you should promptly seek legal help from an experienced maritime injury lawyer. Unfortunately, you can’t rely on others to be as careful or attentive as you are.
At Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm, our maritime injury lawyers strive to provide you with the legal services you deserve as you pursue justice. We go the extra mile to provide you with personalized, compassionate services and seek justice on your behalf. Contact our office today or call us at (404) 418-8244 for your free Atlanta boating accident case review.
“So, I had a car accident last July this year. Im asian, I thought its gonna be hard. But nope!… From start to finished and Mr. David Braun called me himself, and make sure i have all the info I needed. He is very friendly as well as all the staff! Like they will make easy for you.. they help me out for my rides too. I highly recommend this lawyer… All in all the whole experience is 5 stars! So make sure you call them!”
Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Read more reviews on Google!