All watercraft activities require that boaters and their operators exercise caution to protect themselves and others from accidents resulting in property damage or personal injury. Unfortunately, accidents happen and have the potential to leave victims with overwhelming medical bills and property damage.

If you were injured or sustained property damage in a boating accident, consider hiring a Michigan City boat accident lawyer who could assist you in seeking compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney could help you navigate the insurance claim process, settlement negotiations, and, if necessary, file a lawsuit on your behalf.

Reporting Requirements Following a Wreck

U.S. Coast Guard officers, Conservation Officers of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and other authorized law officers enforce Indiana’s boating laws. If a serious boating accident occurs, boat owners are required to take steps to report the incident. As a result of timely reporting, the substance of a report could become important evidence in a civil liability case.

First, victims should stay at the scene and exchange information such as names, addresses, contact details, and boat registration numbers to others involved. Second, boat operators should report the incident to the sheriff, police department, or conservation officer as soon as practicable.

Finally, if the accident results in a person receiving medical treatment, a fatality, disappearance, or property damage in excess of $750, the boat operator should submit an Indiana Department of Natural Resource accident report form within 24 hours. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in a criminal penalty.

Filling out the form out accurately and thoroughly could help preserve evidence for future use, including witness identity, contact information, and description of the accident. While not required by law, it is highly recommended that victims take the time to collect photographs of the scene, property damage, and injuries.

Proving Liability After an Accident

Boat accidents are usually litigated under the theory of negligence. Negligence, in essence, holds the at-fault party accountable for their careless action or inaction towards another when they had a legal responsibility to exercise care.

Additionally, a party’s carelessness must be the proximate cause of the victim’s injury. However, there could be more than one cause of a boating accident. If, for example, one boat operator is intoxicated, and a second, sober boat operator performs an illegal maneuver, and the two boats collide, it could be challenging to determine the degree of fault.

Comparative Fault Rule

In an Indiana negligence trial, the judge or jury determines fault as a percentage basis. The rule governing comparative fault, triggered under certain circumstances when a plaintiff is found to be partially responsible for their injuries.

Indiana Code § 34-51-2-6 states that if the plaintiff’s contributory fault is greater than the fault of the other defendant or defendants, the plaintiff cannot recover damages.

If the plaintiff’s fault is less than that of the opposing party or parties, meaning less than 51 percent responsible, the plaintiff may still recover compensation for their losses. The plaintiff’s damages diminish proportionately to the degree of fault attributed to them.

Time Limit to File a Boat Accident Claim

Under Indiana Code § 34-11-2-4, an action for personal injuries and property damage incurred during a boat accident is, in the majority of circumstances, two years. However, there could be exceptions to this rule. If this time expires before a Michigan City boat accident victim files suit, they lose their right to legal recourse.

Call a Michigan City Boat Accident Attorney Today

Medical bills often add up quickly after a boat accident. Emergency services like ambulance transportation, emergency room visits, and hospital stays are nothing short of costly, even with comprehensive health insurance. To make matters worse, victims of these accidents are often unable to work which only compounds the already noticeable strain on finances.

Fortunately, an attorney could help you make sense of your legal options. A compassionate attorney could advocate for your rights and help you seek compensation for your injuries. Call a Michigan City boat accident lawyer today to schedule a consultation and explore your legal options for recovery.