Santa Barbara Boating Accident Lawyers
The lack of stop signs, red lights, posted speed limits, police cars, or any of the other "restrictions" associated with driving on streets or highways combine to make boating an especially attractive choice of "recreation" for reckless individuals and thrill-seekers of all types.
When one person's idea of "fun" has ended in nightmarish results for you and your family, our attorneys are here to help.
At NordstrandBlack PC, we protect victims’ rights and fight to obtain fair compensation for people who have been seriously injured in boat accidents occurring in Southern California. We know the laws and government regulations that are relevant in these cases. We have decades of trial experience and familiarity with the courts in this area. We have a strong history of successful results. Let us fight for you now.
Being out on the water, no matter how deep, comes with danger. A responsible boat owner and operator know this, and must behave accordingly. That includes warning passengers who are unruly, providing life-saving equipment in case anything goes wrong, and if the weather seems off, not taking the boat out at all. These choices can be the difference between life and death. Like the sailing captains of old, boat operators have a strict responsibility to protect the people in their vessel.
Here are injuries that are common on boating excursions around Santa Barbara:
- Drowning and near-drowning: Even people who know how to swim can be knocked unconscious when they hit the water—which is why protective floatation devices (PFDs) are so vital, and why boaters shouldn’t drive recklessly. California requires every boat operator to have appropriate lifejackets for every person, adult or child, aboard. Even if the person is retrieved from the water in time, he or she may suffer brain injury from the lack of oxygen in a near-drowning incident and have lifelong medical costs.
- Lacerations: There are many sharp objects underwater, from the barnacles on the hull to metal parts of the boat. Since it is likely that passengers will encounter some turbulence while riding on watercraft, these surfaces should be kept dulled or covered to prevent deep cuts and infection.
- Crush injuries: Boat-on-boat collisions are not as rare as you think. If a swimmer is in the water between the boats, and the operators do not have a spotter, or do not keep enough distance between them with the prevailing wind and tides, the swimmer can be caught in between thousand-pound vessels.
- Traumatic brain injury: The ocean has waves, and the wake created by other watercraft can increase the choppy ride. If a passenger, especially a child, isn’t protected by a good seat or told to hold on to a handrail in a dangerous sea, he or she can be knocked against a hard surface and suffer a concussion, swelling, or a brain bleed, which can be fatal if not treated swiftly.
- Spinal cord injury: The greatest danger of diving into the water comes in the form of spinal injuries. Passengers should be instructed not to dive head-first, as the bottom may be closer than they think. Also, any sudden, violent movement—such as revving up the engine or bringing it to an abrupt stop—can also cause the neck to snap back and forward, creating whiplash or herniation.
In the worst cases, a boating accident can be fatal. If another person’s negligence was the cause of the death, surviving family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit. In this legal action, the family can recover the same damages that the victim would have been able to recover in a personal injury lawsuit. In addition, they may ask for damages related to the emotional cost of the loss, like the loss of love, companionship, guidance, and support.
Boat accidents can occur in a variety of contexts and for a variety of reasons. Most involve driver error due to inexperience or recklessness. Many involve the consumption of alcohol. Our practice includes boat accidents involving:
- Private Boats and Yachts - Accidents on private boats can happen in a number of different ways. Injuries can come from slips and falls on the boat itself, falling overboard into the water, or if the boat collides with another object. The owner of the private boat is likely to be liable for most injuries that occur, though negligence from other people on the boat can make them liable as well. Passengers on a private boat must listen to all instructions provided by a captain or operator to remain safe while aboard.
- Water Skiing - While water skiing is a fun way to spend a day, there are serious dangers that one should keep in mind. Skiers can be injured from striking the water at the wrong angle, being dragged behind the boat after falling, or from striking other objects or vehicles while in the water. It is important to have a spotter while skiing, so that the boat operator can watch the water while someone else watches the skier to make sure he or she is okay.
- Personal Watercraft - This includes jet-skis, WaveRunners, and similar small watercraft that seat only one or two passengers. These personal vehicles can go fast and provide little or no protection for riders. You should always wear a life preserver while on a jet-ski or similar watercraft, and make sure any passengers wear them as well. Someone operating this watercraft should have training and always maintain a safe distance from beaches and shores where swimmers may be present.
- Sport Fishing Boats - While many fishers enjoy sitting on a pier, sport fishing from a boat is a great way to catch larger fish. To remain safe, participants should be instructed to wear life preservers and not drink too much. Drinking and fishing may go hand in hand, but excessive alcohol intake can make it difficult to stay safe on a boat, especially if waters become choppy. Sport fishers should be aware of their surroundings, including other passengers, so as not to strike another person with a pole or fishing hook.
- Commercial Charters - Chartering a boat offers great opportunities for friends and coworkers to come together and have fun. Passengers must always listen to orders issued by the captain of the boat, however, and obey them. Passengers on these vessels typically do not have to wear life preservers, but they should be careful near railings. Choppy waters can make walking on a ship difficult, and wet conditions offer numerous opportunities for dangerous slip-and-fall accidents.
- Cruise Ships - Cruise ships are an attractive way to spend a week or more at sea, enjoying many different activities while taking in the scenery. These vessels present their own dangers, including slip-and-fall accidents, sickness, and the risk of falling overboard. Because many of these ships operate in international waters and travel between foreign ports, getting help for accidents or injuries can be difficult. Civil action against cruise ship companies can be successful, but you need an experienced lawyer by your side.
Whatever the circumstances, it is important that you don't wait too long before acting to protect your legal rights. Our Santa Barbara injury lawyers can start doing that immediately. We can also help you to obtain appropriate medical care for your injuries, resolve any related insurance disputes, and begin the process of documenting and understanding all of the ways in which your life has been changed as a result of a boating accident.
Call our Santa Barbara law offices directly at (805) 962-2022 or contact us online to have one of our attorneys evaluate your potential boat accident claims, free of charge.
There are no legal fees to pay unless we win.
- The Conception: When Boating Goes Wrong
- California Division of Boating and Waterways
- 2016 California Recreational Boating Accident Statistics