Issaquah Boat Accident Attorney
The voluminous inlets, lakes and bays in northwest Washington offer limitless recreational boating opportunities for residents and tourists alike. Whether powered by human effort, wind, or a 400 hp engine, boating safety depends on the skill, experience, attention and good judgment of the operator. In Washington state, nowhere is this truer than in King County, where boating accidents, injuries and deaths occur at a pace that far outstrips every other county in the state.
Boat accidents most often occur because of operator negligence; conduct such as speeding, drinking, reckless behavior, inattention, overloading or overpowering the boat, and other unsafe activities are most often the reason behind a collision with another boat, a person in the water, or a fixed object. In other words, these accidents – and the catastrophic or fatal injuries that result – simply don’t have to happen.
At Injury Law Group NW, our firm is dedicated to helping boat accident victims get the care they need and the compensation they deserve after being harmed on the water due to someone else’s negligence. We know how severe a serious boat accident can be, and we do everything in our power as legal counselors and advocates to make sure you and your family are taken care of. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a boat accident in Seattle, King County or northwest Washington, call Injury Law Group NW to speak with a member of our team and get the help you need.
Washington Boat Accident Safety Laws
Negligent operation of a boat is not only unsafe; it’s illegal in Washington state. While there are no absolute rules regarding who has the right-of-way on the water, all boaters are required to practice good seamanship, maintain a safe speed and distance, and keep a sharp lookout for other boaters, swimmers, and potential hazards. Boaters can be cited for negligent or reckless operations, and evidence of this behavior can be used against them in civil claims for injuries caused by negligence.
It should go without saying, but it’s illegal to operate any kind of vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For some people, though, drinking and boating just seem to go together, and they either don’t appreciate the danger they are putting themselves and others in, or they don’t care. The fact is that 17% of boating fatalities in Washington are due to intoxication, according to Washington State Parks.
The standards for boating under the influence in Washington are the same as those for driving under the influence – .08% blood alcohol content or 5 ng/ml of THC (marijuana/cannabis) in the bloodstream. Boating under the influence is a gross misdemeanor with penalties including a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Refusing to submit to an alcohol or drug test is a Class 1 Civil Infraction with a penalty of up to $2,050. A citation for boating under the influence or refusal to test, along with other evidence of intoxication, can be used to prove a case against an intoxicated boater who caused a boat accident.
Children 12 and under must wear a life jacket on any vessel underway less than 19 feet long, and all vessels must carry at least one properly fitted Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board regardless of age. All vessels means all vessels; this requirement applies to canoes, kayaks and paddle boards as well as motorboats. A company that rents out any vessel without the required number of life jackets in good condition could be liable for a drowning or other accident that occurs.
What to Do After a Boat Accident
Per Washington state law, boaters involved in a boat accident must immediately stop at the scene and help anyone who is injured or in danger unless it would be dangerously unsafe to do so. Boaters must also file an accident report after any accident involving:
- an injury that requires more than First Aid in medical treatment,
- property damage greater than $2,000 or the complete loss of a vessel, or
- any death or disappearance.
Operators have ten days to file an accident report based on property damage, but in the case of disappearance, injury or death, the report must be made within 48 hours. The report must be filed with the proper law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the area, such as the King County Sheriff’s Office, Seattle Police Department or Harbor Patrol Unit, or other agency.
Beyond complying with the law, it’s important to seek medical treatment for yourself after a boat accident. If you are not treated at the scene or transported to a hospital, follow up with a doctor as soon as you are able. You could have hidden injuries such as a concussion or internal injuries that need to be diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion to prevent more serious injuries from arising. It’s also important for your insurance claim to document the injury with a medical provider so the insurance company doesn’t dispute your injury or claim it happened in some later incident.
It can also be helpful to your claim to take pictures of the scene of the accident, including personal injuries and property damage, as well as the general area. If any witnesses are present, try to get their contact information; your attorney might want to talk to them. Speaking of attorneys, call one as soon as you can after the accident. An experienced boat accident lawyer can help you gather and preserve important evidence related to your claim, and be your spokesperson when it comes to communicating with insurance companies or other parties. The sooner you call an attorney, the stronger your claim will be, and the sooner you can start recovering compensation for your injury.
Call ILG After a Boat Accident in Washington
If you’ve been hurt in a King County boat accident or lost a loved one in a fatal incident on the water around Seattle, Bellevue, or Renton, call Injury Law Group NW for a free consultation. Our firm is here to help you through a difficult time and see that you get the care and compensation you need to deal with a tragedy brought on by another’s negligence or reckless misconduct.