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Scottsdale  •  Phoenix

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Phoenix Boat Accident Attorney

Boating is a great way to escape the Arizona sun and enjoy a day on the water, but it is essential for all Arizona boaters to know the state’s regulations and laws regarding boating. Boating accidents are more common than you think and can cause severe injuries and significant property damages. Anyone who sustains injuries from a negligent boating accident in Arizona should contact an experienced Phoenix boat accident attorney as soon as possible. It’s imperative you understand your rights, as well as, the boating regulations and legal penalties you may encounter in the after math of an accident.

The Phoenix injury attorneys at Knapp & Roberts have extensive experience handling all types of personal injury claims for our clients, including boat accident claims. We understand how Arizona laws and regulations influence these cases and put our experience to work to maximize our clients’ recovery after these accidents. Our firm has more than 20 years of experience handling civil claims for our clients, so consider how we can help you after an Arizona boating accident.

Arizona Boat Accident Resources:

Arizona Boating Regulations

All Arizona boat owners must register their watercraft with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and the state provides a comprehensive guide for boating laws in Arizona online. Similar to the traffic laws, there are boating laws that dictate when boaters must give way to other boaters, and vessel requirements. Depending on the type of vessel, its length, and whether it uses a sail or power, the boat owner may need to meet different requirements.

It’s a good idea for all boaters in Arizona to enroll in the boater education course with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. This course provides useful information and detailed explanations of the state’s boating laws and regulations that can help boaters avoid costly accidents and serious injuries.

All Arizona boats must meet the state’s registration and marking requirements, and boaters should be aware of the most common causes of boating violations, including:

  • Failure to keep a fire extinguisher onboard
  • Failure to keep throwable flotation devices onboard
  • Operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Speeding in “no wake” zones
  • Navigation rule violations
  • Insufficient personal flotation devices onboard. Boaters should keep at least one flotation device per passenger.
  • Expired registration
  • Failure to report a boating accident as required by state law. If any boating accident results in injury or property damage exceeding $500, the boat owner must report the accident to the police and file an accident report with the Arizona Game and Fish Department within five days of the accident. If an accident results in a fatality, the boater must report it within 48 hours.

Arizona Boat Accident Statistics

According to the United States Coast Guard annual report for 2017:

  • There are more than 123,000 registered vessels in Arizona
  • The number of reportable boating accidents in Arizona increased from 90 in 2016 to 123 in 2017
  • 11 of those accidents were fatal, resulting in 13 deaths
  • The fatality rate for boating accidents hovers around 10.6 per 100,000 vessels
  • Property damage from boating accidents in Arizona was under $1 million, about 2.2% of the national total

Leading Causes of Arizona Boat Accidents

The most common causes of boat accidents in Arizona generally reflect the most common reasons that car accidents happen; speeding, inattention, operating a boat under the influence, and failure to heed navigational signs and signals all cause boating accidents. Operator inexperience can also easily contribute to a boating accident, and all boaters must meet Arizona’s requirements to operate watercraft. Inexperienced boaters can take boating education courses to increase their safety on the water and possibly qualify for discounts on boat insurance coverage.

Other common causes of boat accidents include severe weather and equipment failures. Boaters should use extreme caution and avoid boating in bad weather whenever possible. Boaters can also prevent equipment failures by performing routine maintenance on their watercraft and checking them thoroughly after every outing. When a defective boat or part causes a serious accident, anyone injured may have grounds for a product liability claim against the manufacturer.

Most Common Types of Arizona Boat Accidents

Some of the most common types of boating accidents seen in Arizona include:

  • Vessel collisions. When one vessel hits another it can cause severe injuries to anyone involved and also cause significant property damage. Maintaining your vessel and ensuring it has all required markings and lights can help prevent collisions on the water.
  • Fires. There are several possible reasons for a boat to catch fire. A fuel leak, damaged engine, or failure to operate the boat correctly may cause a fire onboard.
  • Drowning injuries. A person who falls from a boat into the water may suffer an injury from a submerged object, or a boat could strike a swimmer and knock him or her unconscious. It’s essential to keep flotation devices onboard all Arizona vessels to prevent drowning incidents.
  • Wake-related accidents. The “wake” is the wave of water created by a moving watercraft. Generally, the faster a watercraft moves, the larger the resulting wake will be. Some areas in Arizona have clear “no wake” zones that prohibit boaters from traveling fast enough to create wakes behind their boats. A wake in such an area can interfere with other boaters’ ability to navigate safely and may cause a serious accident.
  • OUI. Operation under the influence (OUI) is basically Arizona’s designation for a DUI on the water. Operating any watercraft under the influence of alcohol is illegal and can lead to severe legal penalties in addition to civil liability if an OUI-related accident causes injury or damage to others and their vessels.

What to Do After an Arizona Boat Accident

The first step any boater should take after a boating accident in Arizona is to check everyone involved for injuries. Depending on the nature of the accident it may not be possible for the vessels to return to shore unassisted, and anyone injured may require immediate medical attention. Boat operators should have some means of calling for help when necessary, and it’s also crucial to report all boating accidents as soon as possible to avoid fines and other legal penalties under Arizona law.

If another boater caused an accident with your watercraft due to negligence, or you suffered injuries as a passenger due to the incompetence or negligence of your boat’s operator, you likely have grounds for legal action against the responsible party. Attend to your medical needs first and then contact a Phoenix boat accident attorney to discuss your options for legal recourse.

There are many possible factors that can complicate a boat accident case. You may believe you have an open-and-shut personal injury claim after a boating accident only to discover other elements that complicate the situation, making it more difficult to secure the compensation you need after your accident. The right Phoenix boat accident attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of any Arizona boating case.

Compensation for Phoenix Boat Accidents

There are many types of compensation available to plaintiffs in boating accident claims. A boat accident lawsuit will fall under the purview of personal injury law, and there are several types of compensation available to qualifying plaintiffs, including:

  • Medical expenses. A plaintiff in a personal injury claim can obtain compensation for any and all medical expenses resulting from the defendant’s behavior. This can include immediate treatment costs like ambulance fees, airlift fees, hospital bills, and other treatment costs. However, plaintiffs may also claim compensation for their long-term medical expenses for things like occupational therapy or physical rehabilitation.
  • Lost income. If a boating accident caused a plaintiff to miss work, the plaintiff can claim his or her lost income during that time as damages in a personal injury case. In the event that a defendant’s behavior causes permanent damage and prevents the plaintiff from working in the future, the plaintiff may claim his or her estimated lost future earnings as well.
  • Property damage. Boats are expensive to maintain and even more costly to repair. If a defendant damaged or destroyed the plaintiff’s vessel or other personal belongings, the plaintiff can claim compensation for replacement or repair costs.
  • Pain and suffering. The jury in a personal injury case will assess the plaintiff’s damages and the severity of his or her injuries to determine an appropriate amount of pain and suffering compensation. Since abstract concepts like “pain and suffering” are impossible to quantify, there are several methods a jury may use to award a fitting amount of compensation. They may award “per diem” pain and suffering damages that pays a certain amount each day the plaintiff spends in recovery until he or she reaches maximum possible recovery. They may also simply multiply the plaintiff’s medical expenses by an appropriate amount and award a lump sum instead.
  • Punitive damages. In rare cases, if a defendant’s behavior indicated a reckless disregard for the safety of others or involved any intentional criminal activity, the jury may award punitive damages to further penalize the defendant and discourage similar behavior in the future.

Arizona does not cap or limit damages in personal injury claims. It’s possible for a boating accident claim to secure a sizable amount of compensation for an injured plaintiff, and hiring the right Phoenix boat accident attorney can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of any Arizona boat accident case.

When Should I Call a Phoenix Boat Accident Attorney?

You may think your boating accident case is straightforward; another boater was clearly negligent and caused severe injuries or other damages, therefore he or she is liable for your losses. There are many factors that can potentially complicate even the most seemingly open-and-shut lawsuits, and the average person may not have the time, energy, or resources to handle a claim alone while recovering from an accident.

An attorney can not only provide a better degree of representation than most people could manage on their own, but also increase the amount of compensation a client receives from a claim. The Phoenix accident attorneys at Knapp & Roberts know the different types of damages that can come into play in a boating accident case, and we strive to maximize our clients’ recovery in every case.

If you or someone you know recently suffered injuries or other damages in a boating accident, contact Knapp & Roberts today to schedule a free consultation about your claim. A skilled Phoenix boat accident attorney will help you review the details of your case and understand your legal options for recovery.

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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.