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California sadly has thousands of boating accidents and injuries each year.   Many of these accidents occur in Los Angeles County, Ventura County,  Westlake, Lake Sherwood, Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, and many other bodies of water.  These boat accidents occur largely because people underestimate the dangers of watercraft as compared to cars or simply do not understand the nautical “rules of the road” and safety laws. Boating education is crucial to limiting boat accidents. Unfortunately, many states do not require any yachting or boating instruction or limit mandatory instruction to operators under a certain age or a vessel over a certain length. This places many people behind the wheel of a yacht, boat or helm of personal watercraft without any specialized knowledge of that vessel’s operating characteristics or even what to do when another yacht, boat or personal watercraft is coming at them.

Other safety precautions that can limit boating and yachting injuries, such as, wearing life jackets or installing “kill switches” (a lanyard device that will turn off an engine if an operator is thrown from a helm station) are not always utilized.  John R Neustadt has and does own and operate boats and is familiar with the safety requirements of boating, and the laws governing boating accidents.

Our firm will handle the following types of accidents involving these  water vehicles:

  • Personal Watercrafts (Jet Skis & Wave Runners);

  • Center Consol Runabouts;

  • Cabin Cruisers;

  • Yachts;

  • Tenders;

  • Inflatable & Semi Rigid Inflatable Boats;

  • Sailboats;

  • Go-Fast boats;

  • Airboats, and,

  • Kayaks, Paddleboards & Canoes.

Given the nature of boating and yachting along with the direct and nature perils of the sea, boating injuries can be caused by many different reasons. Many people think that since they were simply on the water, they assumed all risks associated with the activity. This is not true. The most frequent situations of where a boat operator may be negligent and, therefore, responsible for an occupant’s injury or injury to the occupant of another vessel include:

  • Hitting a big wave or wake at an unsafe speed or angle;

  • Ejections from the boat due to improper operation or deciding to navigate in heavy weather;

  • Contact with propellers;

  • Operating at a high speed;

  • Failing to keep a lookout while a guest is skiing or tubing;

  • Not knowing the navigational rules;

  • Collisions with other watercraft;

  • Defective boat design;

  • Defective boat construction or repair;

  • Impacting a fixed object, such as a navigational aid, pier or bridge; and,

  • Overcrowding & Overloading.

  • Alcohol and drug use

Individuals injured due to the negligence of a boat operator may be entitled to compensation in the form of payment of medical bills, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering associated with the accident.

The law governing your claim (and potential recovery) depends primarily on whether you were employed by, or a guest of, the yacht or boat owner. Further, many recreational boating accidents involve ignorance or violation of a navigational regulation, more commonly referred to as “The Rules of the Road”. In many circumstances, such a violation gives an injured party a rebuttable presumption that the violator is liable.

It is important that you contact an experienced and skilled boat accident attorney if you or a loved one were involved in a yachting, boating or personal watercraft accident. Maritime law in very different than land based law, complete with its own filing deadlines and pleading requirements.

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