Boating accidents can produce claims for personal injury, property damage, and wrongful death. For victims to collect damages, they need to have proof of negligence. Negligence can occur in many situations, including operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs, operator recklessness, failure to have safety equipment, or inattention. Taking the right steps immediately after a boat accident will help you build a strong case for pursuing compensation. A boating accident attorney in Las Vegas will strive to perform a thorough investigation after the fact, but any evidence collected by a victim can prove valuable.
- Get Medical Attention
Even if a boat accident did not appear to injure you, a medical exam remains a top priority. The stress of an unexpected event causes the human body to produce adrenaline that can block your perception of pain for a time. Some injuries do not reveal themselves for hours or days. A medical exam as close to the time of the boat accident as possible establishes a record of your physical state, which an accident attorney Las Vegas could later attribute to your accident.
In more severe events, injuries are readily apparent and require summoning emergency medical assistance and perhaps hospitalization. A victim should follow up with a physician after initial medical care to obtain additional documentation about injuries and the prognosis for recovery.
- Exchange Contact Information
Similar to a car accident, boaters or operators of small personal watercraft need to exchange contact information so that they can follow up with each other regarding the accident. Collect boat insurance information as well if it is available. Request information from any bystanders on a dock or aboard other vessels. They could be a source of witness testimony when you put together your accident claim.
- Take Pictures When Possible
Although people playing on the water do not always have their smartphones handy, you or someone in your party needs to take pictures if possible. In addition to taking pictures of the damage to a vessel and your injuries, images of the immediate surroundings may also be useful. A nearby “No Wake” sign could serve as evidence that someone was not observing safety rules in the area. A picture of the boat that hit you and its passengers could reveal the presence of alcoholic beverages. In 2018, intoxication contributed to 19 percent of boating fatalities, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Any evidence regarding alcohol could be critical for proving negligence.
If no camera was available at the time of your accident or the medical emergency was too worrisome to think about pictures, you can still take pictures later. Be sure to document your bruises, cuts, broken bones, and other trauma in close detail. Additionally, you might not be able to get good pictures of boat damage until it is upon a trailer.
- Report the Accident
The Nevada Department of Wildlife provides an Accident Form for reporting boat accidents. This report is a requirement for accidents that result in death, render a victim unconscious, require medical treatment, cause disability, or produce property damage over $2,000. This report serves as official documentation about the accident.
- Inform Your Insurer
Even if you expect to pursue damages from the party that caused your accident, you want to alert your insurer to what has happened. This action documents the accident for your insurer in case you need to turn to your insurance for compensation. The other party’s insurer may contact you, but you should refer that conversation to your accident attorney Las Vegas. Injury lawyers know how to avoid statements that the opposing insurer might construe as an admission of fault.
- Start an Accident File and Journal
A boating accident disrupts your routine. To counteract the chaos that might unfold after being injured, you can designate a file, binder, or box as the receptacle for everything concerning your case. Use a single file to store all photos, contact information, pictures, receipts for medical care, records about missing work, and anything else pertinent to your case. You really cannot be too meticulous about documenting your case—every detail and dollar matters.
In addition to storing all documentation in a single spot, add a journal to your file. Write down how you feel each day and take notes about meetings with your physician. Your diary will build a picture of the duration of your pain and the challenges that you faced in the aftermath.
Get Legal Advice After a Boating Accident
The initial shock of a boat accident often makes it difficult to think about legalities in the early stages. You might not have any idea if negligence was behind what happened to you. The person who appeared to be responsible for your injury might have even offered to pay the day of the accident but later went silent on the subject. A boating accident attorney Las Vegas can evaluate the circumstances of your accident and recommend your next steps. You should not rely on the opinion of an insurance adjuster when seeking compensation. Qualified injury lawyers at Moss Berg are available to represent you. Contact our office today.