What is the Best Way to Hire a Boating Accident Lawyer?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Michigan is a popular destination for getting out on the water, but the increased traffic on local waterways heightens your chances of getting into a boating accident. If you sustain injuries while operating or traveling on a watercraft, it’s critical to seek legal counsel to navigate Michigan’s laws surrounding boating accidents.
When hiring a personal injury lawyer to manage your boating accident case, you need to do your research to ensure the firm you work with has proven success in attaining compensation for injuries resulting from the boat operator’s negligence. Learn how you can narrow down your selection to choose the best boating accident attorney for your case.
How to Find a Boat Accident Lawyer in Michigan
The lawyer you hire can make or break your boating accident case, which is why it’s essential to do your research before making a final decision. Here are some of the best ways to locate a lawyer who can get the job done right.
Ask for referrals from family and friends
Ask friends and family if they have suffered boating accident injuries in the past and, if so, which law firm they worked with to file a claim. Ask them what the attorney was like if they communicated with the insurance company on their behalf and whether their case was successful.
Read online reviews
Look at a law firm’s websites and their online reviews. This gives you some idea of what their clients think of them and how well their case was handled.
You should be looking for reviews relating to boating accident cases. Note if the attorney has a track record of winning clients compensation for instances of property damage or non-economic damages like pain and suffering to ensure they can get you the awards you deserve.
Research attorneys online
Select a few boating accident attorneys in your region and do some research on them. Look for any pieces in the media about cases they have handled. Research what settlements they have achieved for their clients. Look for anything which enhances their reputation, like compliments from judges or clients. If anything casts them in a bad light, like a bar investigation, avoid them.
You are looking for an attorney with a good reputation and positive reviews from past clients. You want someone who has achieved fair settlements for claims like yours. If they match these criteria, they will likely do a good job for you too.
What to Look for in a Boat Accident Attorney
When hiring a boating accident attorney, take advantage of a free consultation if they offer one. This session allows you to ask the questions you need answers to before you feel confident hiring someone as your legal representation.
Here are the qualities you want to see in a good boating accident lawyer.
Proven success in winning compensation
When looking for a boating attorney, you must be on the lookout for someone who has a proven track record of success in that field. You want someone who has consistently achieved good results for their clients.
Avoid lawyers who have no record of handling boating accident cases. A lawyer who achieved just one or two good results lacks experience and could be out of their depth with your case.
A legitimate online presence
You must ensure they have a strong online presence, proper offices, and are qualified attorneys in good standing. Visit them at their offices if possible to ensure you aren’t hiring someone who will scam you.
Transparency about fees
Talk to them about their fees. Ask them if they will take your case on a contingency basis. If they ask you for upfront fees or are evasive about what they will be charging you, it’s best to find another lawyer.
They are located in Michigan
Make sure the attorney you hire is admitted to the State Bar of Michigan. The laws in each state can be different. That is why it is vital for you to hire a Michigan lawyer. You need an attorney who knows Michigan’s boating laws and is admitted to practice in the state.
A lawyer admitted in one state is not automatically allowed to practice law in another. You will not want to hire a lawyer who is not entitled to represent you in Michigan.
Avoid Boating Accidents By Knowing the Causes
Understanding the common causes of boat accidents in Michigan can help you avoid suffering traumatic brain injuries and other life-altering damages. If you are injured in a boating accident, or someone aboard your vessel dies, your attorney can help you file a Michigan Boating Accident Report with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Boat accidents in Michigan are caused by factors such as:
Boaters go out on the water to relax and unwind. For some, that means indulging in alcohol and drugs.
Many accidents are caused by the operator of the boat being impaired by alcohol or drugs. The operator of the boat must remain sober so they can safely navigate the crowded waterways.
Michigan law recognizes this by prohibiting anyone from operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This means it is also prohibited for a boat owner to allow a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs to operate their boat.
Drunk passengers can be a hazard for the boat operator. They may distract the driver from paying sufficient attention to where they are going and what is happening around them. Drunk passengers can also create a nuisance by using boat equipment improperly or falling off the boat. If they are not wearing life jackets while intoxicated, this is especially dangerous and can result in drowning.
Paying attention to what is going on around you is vital when operating a boat. Inattention for whatever reason can soon lead to a collision with another vessel or the land. In 2020 operator inattention caused 664 boating accidents. As a result of these accidents, 383 people were injured, and 55 died.
Distraction could also lead to operators failing to notice changing weather conditions. That may pose a hazard to their boat and their passengers.
Boating is essentially a relaxing leisure activity, but that doesn’t mean that vigilance and awareness of activity around you is not vital. Article 5 of the U.S. and International Maritime Navigation Rules states that every vessel should have a lookout at all times to assess the risk of collisions with other boats.
Boaters who do not have the appropriate training and experience can be a danger to themselves and everyone around them. They may not know how to navigate correctly, handle bad weather or equipment failures. In 2020, 77% of fatal boat accidents happened on a watercraft operated by someone without proper boating safety training.
During the summer and holiday times, the waterways become more crowded than ever. When the waterways are busier, they become increasingly dangerous.
In these conditions, it is crucial to be extra vigilant. Sailboats, motorboats, pontoon boats, fishing boats, water skiers, and personal watercraft are all vying for space on the waters. It’s the operator’s duty to learn the maritime laws and observe them.
When an operator drives their boat at speeds that pose a risk to other people or their property or at such a speed that they would be unable to bring their boat to a stop in a safe distance, there is an increased risk of accidents.
Recklessness is any activity that disregards the safety of others or that puts at risk other people or property.
Examples of this kind of behavior when operating a boat include:
- Weaving through waterway traffic
- Leaving it to the last moment to maneuver to avoid a collision
- Causing damage to property from the wake of your boat
- Chasing wildlife with your boat
- Jumping over the wake of another boat.
Who Can I Sue?
Establishing liability for the accident is vital to the success of your claim. You must be able to prove that the other party caused the accident through their negligence.
Boat accident claims commonly take one of three forms:
- Operator negligence: Due to the operator being distracted or reckless through intoxication, speeding, or being inadequately trained.
- Passenger injury: If the accident victim was injured on a third party’s boat, they may claim, for example, against the operator or owner of the boat.
- Boat defects: If the accident was caused by the boat or some boat parts being defective, then a product liability case may be brought against the manufacturer or designer.
Contact Your Local Michigan Boating Accident Attorney
Boating accidents can be traumatic. They frequently leave the victim with life-changing injuries that cause expensive medical and healthcare bills and decreased earning power.
At a stressful time like this, you need legal assistance to get your claim started and recover all the damages you deserve. The legal team at Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. can help you navigate this process.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.