Residents of Altus often go out for recreational boating and fishing on Foss Lake or Fort Cobb Lake. You may have taken all necessary precautions understand how to drive a boat safely, but this does not guarantee that you will avoid a collision. Like auto accidents, responsible boaters must rely on others to be responsible too, and that sometimes does not happen. If you were harmed while on the water, an experienced personal injury attorney could advocate for you.
Boating requires attention to the waterways and an eye on other individuals to avoid accidents with those who are disregarding safety regulations. Licensing for a boat is less rigorous than testing for a driver’s license, and inexperienced or irresponsible boaters could pose a threat. If you are injured on any of Southwest Oklahoma’s lakes or waterways, an Altus boat accident lawyer may be able to help.
Boating Accidents on Oklahoma Waterways
Boaters on Oklahoma waterways must carry some safety equipment, such as flotation devices and a noise device to call for help if stranded. However, unlike automobiles, boats are not required to have seat belts, which can make an accident deadly if the captain and passengers are ejected after a high-speed crash. Some common boating accidents include:
- Excessive speed causing collisions with other boaters, personal watercraft, or buoys
- Distracted or inattentive boaters
- Water-skiing mishaps
- Running aground
- Boating at night or in inclement weather
Many boating accidents are fueled by alcohol. It is illegal to operate a boat with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of 0.10% or above – or while under the influence of any drugs causing impairment. A first offense carries a fine of up to $1,000, and subsequent offenses carry fines of between $1,000 and $2,500.
If an intoxicated boater causes an accident, you may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit to be compensated for your losses. If you suspect that alcohol or drugs contributed in any way to your accident or injuries, consult an experienced boat accident attorney in Altus to learn whether compensation is available in a specific case.
Proving Negligence in an Altus Boating Mishap
Personal injury lawsuits are based on negligence and your attorney must prove that the defendant was expected to behave like a reasonable person in a similar situation. In this case, a boater is supposed to abide by safety and other rules, such as the limits to alcohol consumption while boating. If the defendant acts recklessly, is careless, or breaks the established rules, and you are injured because of the defendant’s actions or inaction, the elements of negligence are established.
For example, an intoxicated boater might be speeding, crashes into a buoy, and sends a passenger flying into the lake, resulting in a broken neck. The passenger’s boat accident attorney could establish the four elements of negligence: duty, breach, causation, and damages, in order to seek compensation for the injuries sustained.
Available Damages After a Boat Accident
Juries award compensatory damages separated into economic and non-economic. Economic damages reimburse you for money spent or lost, such as medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages compensate you for subjective losses, such as the pain endured, loss of enjoyment of life, and having to live with a disfigurement. Neither economic damages nor non-economic damages are currently capped for personal injury plaintiffs.
If a defendant’s act recklessly disregards your rights and safety or is intentional, the jury may award punitive damages as a reprimand and warning against egregious behavior. Under Oklahoma Statute 23 § 9.1, punitive damages are capped at the greater of $100,000 or the amount of compensatory damages awarded; however, if it was deemed intentional, the cap is raised to $500,000, twice the amount of damages already awarded, or “the increased financial benefit derived by the defendant or insurer as a direct result of the conduct causing the injury to the plaintiff and other persons or entities.”
Learn How an Altus Boat Accident Attorney Fights for You
You may never think about the danger on rivers or lakes when you decide to spend the day boating or fishing. But other boaters may not be as careful as you are. If a reckless boater causes you harm, then you may be asking yourself how you will pay your bills when you are recuperating.
We can answer all your legal questions and help you take action. If another boater breaks the rules or acts negligently toward you, and you are injured because of it, call our team. An Altus boating accident lawyer fights for compensation that will pay for the losses you have suffered.