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Boat Accident Attorneys in Arizona
You’ll be working with lawyers who know that boat riders have essentially the same rights as motorists.
Boat accidents can be devastating – don’t go it alone.
Boating is a very popular activity for Arizonans because of the opportunity to escape the Arizona heat while spending time on the water. However, it is critical for boaters to understand the state’s boating laws and regulations. Boating accidents in Arizona are unfortunately common, and they can result in serious injuries, fatalities, and significant property losses. If you suffered injuries in a boating accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, you should consult the experienced boating accident lawyers in Arizona at Lamber Goodnow.
The boating accident lawyers at Lamber Goodnow have years of experience handling a broad variety of personal injury claims, including those involving boating accidents. Our firm is based in Phoenix and has locations throughout the state to make it more convenient for our clients. We understand the boating laws and how they apply to boat collisions and can put our experience to work for you while pursuing maximum compensation for your losses.
Important Boating Laws and Regulations in Arizona
Title 5 of the Arizona Revised Statutes includes multiple boating laws that you should know. The Arizona Game and Fish Division also has a comprehensive guide to the boating rules and laws in the state. These laws and regulations cover the required equipment that must be kept on boats, requirements for watercraft, and laws for how boat operators must conduct themselves while they are on the water.
Some of the important laws that you should know include the following:
- Boat registration required –A.R.S. § 5-321
- Nonresidents who establish Arizona as the principal place of operating their watercraft must register and number their boats –A.R.S. § 5-326
- Personal flotation devices required –A.R.S. § 5-331
- Fire extinguishers required –A.R.S. § 5-332
- Boating lights by classification –A.R.S. § 5-333
- Gasoline-fueled watercraft fire arrestor requirement –A.R.S. § 5-334
- Ventilation system required to prevent fires or explosions –A.R.S. § 5-335
- Prohibition against operating a boat in a reckless ornegligentmanner –A.R.S. § 5-341
- Prohibition against allowing someone under the age of 12 to operate a motorized watercraft without an adult age 18 or older or a parent –A.R.S. § 5-341
- Speeding prohibited –A.R.S. § 5-343
- Boat overloading prohibited –A.R.S. § 5-344
- Powered watercraft must yield the right-of-way to nonpowered watercraft –A.R.S. § 5-345
- Watercraft operators to yield the right of way to boats entering or present in their danger zone – A.R.S. § 5-345
- Other navigation rules – A.R.S. § 5-345
- Observer and operator required when someone is waterskiing –A.R.S. § 5-346
- Operator must stop when someone is seriously injured or killed or when there is significant damage to a boat in an accident –A.R.S. § 5-349
- Operating under the influence –A.R.S. § 5-395
- Aggravated operating under the influence –A.R.S. § 5-396
Because of the numerous laws and regulations governing boaters in Arizona, it is a good idea for you to take the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s boater education course. This course teaches participants the safe operation of boats, the rules and laws that apply, how to handle emergencies, and more. Understanding the rules can help you reduce your risk of serious boating accidents and injuries.
Some of the most common types of boating violations in Arizona include the following:
- Not keeping a fire extinguisher onboard
- Not having the required personal flotation devices
- Boating OUI
- Violations of the navigating rules
- Not having enough flotation devices onboard for the number of people
- Lack of registration or expired registration
- Failing to report boating accidents to the state
If you are involved in a boating accident resulting in property damage worth $500 or more, injuries, or deaths, you are required to report the accident to the police. You must also file a report with the Arizona Game and Fish Department no later than five days following the accident. If the accident caused a fatality, you must report it to the Arizona Game and Fish Department within 48 hours.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents in Arizona
Boating accidents are often caused by the negligence of a boat operator. Some accidents might also be caused by defective components. Some of the most common causes of Arizona boating accidents include the following:
- Operator inexperience
- Boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Excessive speeding
- Navigation errors
When a collision occurs, other types of negligence can also result in serious injuries or deaths, including a failure to have a fire extinguisher, a fire arrestor, or an appropriate ventilation system to prevent and handle fires or explosions, failure to have enough personal flotation devices to prevent drowning, overloading the boat, and other similar types of negligent conduct. Arizona’s boating laws and regulations are in place specifically to try to prevent accidents, injuries, and deaths. When someone violates the law and causes an accident or injuries, the negligent actor can be liable to pay compensation in a boating accident claim.
Common Types of Boating Accidents in Arizona
While there are many different types of accidents that can happen, some of the most common types include boat collisions, fires, accidents caused by excessive wakes, and accidents caused by boat operators who are under the influence of alcohol. Boat collisions can be caused when a boat fails to yield the right-of-way or when a boat operates at night without the required lights. They can also occur when an operator is distracted or fails to pay appropriate attention.
Boat operators must also take care to prevent excessive wakes while operating their boats. These are waves created by the movement of a powered watercraft. If you are speeding, you will create a larger wake. Some areas have no-wake zones that prohibit boaters from operating their boats fast enough to create wakes because the waves that result can interfere with the ability to safely navigate a boat.
Many Arizonans who head out on the water bring alcohol with them onboard. While it is not illegal to have alcohol on your watercraft for your passengers, it is illegal for a boat operator to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the same way that it is illegal to drive while impaired. Operating while impaired is illegal and can result in severe criminal penalties. Doing so can also place others in the water around you at serious risk of injuries or death.
Steps to Take Following a Boating Accident
The steps you take during the immediate aftermath of a boating accident are critical. What you do right after your accident can make or break your potential accident claim. Here are some steps to take from the boat accident lawyers at Lamber Goodnow.
1. Check for Injuries
Immediately after an accident, check yourself and others for injuries. Depending on the severity of the crash, multiple people might need medical attention. Provide first aid to people who are injured until help arrives.
2. Call for Help
You should immediately call for help following a boating accident in which serious property damage, injuries, or fatalities have occurred. You should have a means of calling for help with you on your boat.
3. Report Your Accident
If the accident involved $500 or more in damages or injuries, you file a report with the Arizona Fish and Game Division within five days. If someone was killed or went missing, you must file your report within 48 hours.
4. Seek Medical Care
If you have sustained injuries in your boat accident, you should seek immediate medical attention. Even if you are unsure if you are injured, you should still get checked out by your doctor. You might have injuries that have delayed symptoms. Waiting to seek medical care can worsen your prognosis and also potentially harm your claim.
5. Contact a Boat Accident Attorney
If you were injured because of someone else’s negligence in a boat accident, you should consult an experienced boat accident attorney at Lamber Goodnow as soon as possible. Our attorneys can review what happened and help you determine your options.
Pursuing Compensation for an Arizona Boat Accident
The value of your boat accident claim will depend on multiple factors. Your attorney can help you understand your claim’s value so that you have a better idea of what it might be worth. The compensatory damages in a boat accident case refer to monetary amounts that are meant to compensate you for your losses and can be categorized as special or general damages. Some of the types of compensatory damages that might be available in a boat accident case include the following:
- Past and future medical bills for your accident-related injuries
- Past and future rehabilitation and/or physical therapy costs
- Past and future income losses
- Long-term care costs for permanently disabling injuries
- Property losses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress/mental anguish
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium/guidance in awrongfuldeath case
- Funeral/burial expenses in a wrongful death case
In cases in which the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious, punitive damages might also be available. However, punitive damages are rare since they are meant to punish defendants rather than compensate plaintiffs. If punitive damages are awarded in your case, they will be paid on top of any compensatory damages you might receive.
There is no cap on personal injury damages in Arizona under Ariz. Const. Art. 2, Sect. 31. This means that it is possible that you might secure a large compensation amount for your boating accident injuries and losses. Having the help of an experienced lawyer might make a large difference in the outcome of your case.
When to File a Claim
Under A.R.S. § 12-542, there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Arizona. This means that you must file a lawsuit no later than two years after your boating accident. If you wait too long to file your claim, your ability to pursue and recover compensation could be time-barred.
While you might think that two years is a long time, the time can pass quickly when you are dealing with recovering from your injuries. It is best for you to contact a lawyer as soon after your accident as possible. When you get help from an attorney early in the process, your lawyer can preserve critical evidence before it can be lost and fully investigate your case to strengthen your liability claim.
Even if you think that the other boater was clearly at fault, it is best to work with an experienced boat accident lawyer. An attorney can help to determine the available sources of recovery, handle the communications and negotiations with the involved insurance companies for you, and handle all aspects of your case while you work on recovering from your injuries. Having an experienced attorney might help you to recover far more compensation than you might be able to recover alone.
Contact our Boat Accident Attorneys Arizona
If you have been seriously injured or have lost your loved one in a boating accident because of the reckless or negligent behavior of someone else, you should contact the boat accident attorneys at Lamber Goodnow as soon as possible. We understand the complex issues that can arise in boating accident claims and can help you understand your rights. We offer free consultations and will provide you with a fair and honest assessment of your claim’s viability. Contact us today to request a free case evaluation so that you can learn more about your rights and potential remedies.
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