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A lot of people enjoy boating in the summer, so it isn’t unusual to see people out on the rivers, lakes and ponds. Some summer boaters are so dedicated that they’ll launch their crafts every weekend there is nice weather.

Unfortunately, not all of those experiences will be free of accidents. If an accident happens to you or someone you love, it’s important to know who is responsible and where to turn next. Here’s what you should know.

The dangers of recreational boating

Recreational boating is responsible for thousands of accidents and injuries as well as for hundreds of deaths each year. You can add to that the millions of dollars of property damage that is caused by recreational boating accidents. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, many of those accidents are preventable. They’re largely caused by:

  • failure to ensure that everyone is wearing a life jacket
  • operator inattention
  • excessive speeds
  • operator’s inexperience
  • improper lookouts
  • boating under the influence

The liability for an accident on the water

In many ways, being on a recreational watercraft is just like being in a car. You have to trust your life to the sense and skill of the person operating the vehicle. Just like when there’s a car accident, liability often falls back on the driver of a vehicle for any accidents he or she causes.

However, in certain circumstances, liability can also be pressed against the boat’s owner (if that wasn’t the driver), a rental company that provided the boat, the boat’s manufacturer and other passengers. It often takes experienced legal knowledge to recognize the appropriate defendants in a case.

The process of filing your claim

If you have to make a claim for damages after a boating accident, your claim may fall under federal maritime law or be subject to the ordinary personal injury laws in your state. You should seek assistance from an attorney that understands the difference in order to ensure that your claim is filed properly.

Just like car accident injuries, recreational boating accidents are often catastrophic in nature and may leave victims traumatized emotionally as well as physically damaged permanently. For best results, learn more about your legal options as soon as possible.