Where Do Boat Accidents Happen in Alabama?
Alabama has nearly 1,300 miles of navigable inland waterways – one of the largest in the nation. Along with the Gulf, some of the most common locations of boat accidents in the state include:
- Alabama River
- Cosby Lake
- Crow Creek
- Elk River
- Lake Martin
- Lake Guntersville
- Smith Lake
- Mobile River
- Neeley Henry Lake
- Lake Jordan
- Lake Wedowee
- Tennessee River
No matter where you were hurt, you could be entitled to significant compensation after a boating accident. You’d be well-advised to speak with an attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.
Who is Liable in a Boating Accident?
If you’ve been hurt in the water, it’s critical to contact a boat accident injury lawyer right away. Federal and state laws may apply to your case depending on where the crash occurred. You’ll need an attorney who is familiar with maritime and admiralty laws to determine your next steps.
Like any personal injury case, identifying who is at fault for the boat accident will be essential to pursue compensation for your injuries. An attorney can investigate the accident to determine what went wrong and collect evidence to hold the responsible party accountable for their negligence.
Examples of evidence that can support a boat accident case include:
- Medical reports: You can’t file an injury claim without proof of an injury. See a doctor as soon as possible after the boat accident. Your medical records will create a direct link between the accident and your injuries. They will also show that you took every possible step to prevent your injuries from worsening.
- Photos and/or video: Most boating accidents involve collisions with other recreational vessels. Photos of the damage to the boats can help reconstruct what happened. Pictures of your injuries and physical evidence from inside the boat (e.g., open alcohol containers) can help support your claim for compensation.
- Accident report: Federal law requires boaters to file a report to their state reporting authority for any boating accident that results in death, injury, a person’s disappearance, or damage to vessels and other property damage of over $2,000. In Alabama, the reporting agency is the Marine Police Division of the Department of Natural Resources.
- Witness statements: Boating isn’t typically a solitary activity. Usually, other people witnessed the accident and can testify about what happened.
- Toxicology reports: It’s illegal to operate a boat with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than 0.08 in Alabama. It’s also against the law to operate a watercraft under the influence of any substance that could impair your mental and physical abilities. If the person who caused your boating accident is charged with BUI, that can be compelling evidence in your boat accident claim.
If someone else is liable for your boat accident injuries, you’ll likely pursue compensation from the operator’s insurance company. However, Alabama law does not require boat operators to purchase insurance. If that’s the case, you will need to pursue compensation directly from the at-fault party through a boating accident lawsuit. A proven Alabama boat accident lawyer can walk you through your options if you’re hurt by an uninsured boater.
What to Do if You’re Hurt in a Boating Accident
After a boat accident, you should:
- Stop the boat and check for injuries. Call the Coast Guard or local authorities for help.
- Move the vessel to a safe location, if possible.
- Collect what evidence you can by taking photos of the accident scene, writing down the boat’s registration number, getting contact information from witnesses, and obtaining a copy of the official accident report.
- Find out if the operator or owner of the vessel has boat insurance. If their negligence caused the accident and your injuries, a settlement may be your best source of compensation.
- See a doctor as soon as possible after the boating accident. Many serious injuries are not immediately apparent but can be diagnosed in the hours, days, and weeks after the accident.
- Contact a boating accident attorney. Your legal options may be different based on whether your case falls under state or federal jurisdiction.
When to Contact a Lawyer After a Boating Accident
If a boat accident was minor and resulted in no injuries, you probably don’t need a lawyer for your boat accident.
However, you should always contact an Alabama boating accident attorney if:
- The accident resulted in an injury or death.
- It’s not clear who was at fault for the accident.
- The boat operator’s insurance company denied your claim or is pushing the blame onto you.
- The at-fault party was uninsured or underinsured.
- The boat accident was the result of an equipment failure or faulty part.
Call Stokes Stemle LLC, Alabama Personal Injury Attorneys
The time after a boat accident can be confusing, especially if you need to seek compensation for your injuries. Turn to the Alabama boat accident lawyers at Stokes Stemle, LLC. Our law firm focuses exclusively on personal injury claims, and we’re good at what we do. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.