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Personal Injury / March 10, 2024

How Liability And Damages Are Determined in Mississippi Boating Accidents

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident you probably have a lot of unanswered questions, especially in regards to damages, liability, and compensation. How is fault determined? Who is responsible for your medical costs? 

Derek L. Hall Personal Injury Attorneys are here to answer these pressing questions and any others you may have concerning your boating accident. We know working through injuries or lost property can be stressful. We are here to help you stay afloat through it all!

What Happens When Only One Boat Was Involved In the Accident

Boating accidents can be devastating, causing serious injuries and property damage. While most people associate boat accidents with collisions involving multiple vessels, this is not always the case. Accidents can occur even when only one boat is involved. In these kinds of cases, understanding your rights and legal options is crucial.

Investigating the Cause of the Accident

When only one boat is involved in an accident, determining cause should be simple, right? After all, the boat operator knows the reason for the accident, right? Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A thorough investigation is typically conducted by an experienced maritime attorney or accident reconstruction experts to establish liability and determine the sequence of events leading to the accident.

Some common potential causes of single-boat accidents include:

  • Operator error
  • Mechanical failures
  • Navigational hazards
  • Weather conditions

Non-Boating Watercraft Accidents

One of the most common types of boating accidents is collisions with non-boating vehicles. Other vessels such as jet skis, wave runners, kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards are all susceptible to accidents that can result in injuries or fatalities.

Avoiding Accidents with Non-Boating Vessels

Preventing accidents involving non-boating watercraft requires adherence to safety measures and regulations. This means that every person operating any type of watercraft should be properly trained on how to maneuver it. 

With boats, you have to have a special license to operate them but with other vessels, this is not typically the case. Before you or a loved one jumps on a jet ski in a public waterway, make sure you know how to operate it safely, understand and follow local maritime laws and regulations, wear appropriate safety gear, and avoid risky behavior such as operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Jet Ski Accidents

Speaking on jet skis, collisions involving boats and jet skis injure hundreds of people every year. While jet skis can be a thrilling experience, their speed and agility can also pose significant risks to both the operator of the jet ski and others around them. 

When accidents like this happen, it can be difficult to determine liability. On the one hand, visibility can be limited from a boat and it can be difficult to spot a small jet ski moving quickly. 

On the other hand, jet ski operators take on a level of responsibility when loading the vessel that they will navigate the waterway responsibly and avoid the path of boats. So, who is responsible when a boat and a jet ski are involved in an accident?

Determining liability in a boat-jet ski accident often requires a thorough investigation led by an attorney well-versed in maritime law and experienced in handling such cases.

Several parties could potentially be held liable in a watercraft accident, including:

  • Jet ski operator 
  • Boat operator
  • Owner of the vessel
  • Jet ski manufacturer
  • Jet ski rental company
  • Dock or slip owner

Mississippi is a pure comparative negligence state meaning that if multiple parties share responsibility, damages will be distributed based on each party's percentage of fault for the accident. Even if you are primarily at fault, you can still seek compensation. 

Swimmers Struck By Boats

Is there ever a time when a swimmer is hit by a boat that they could be held liable for damages? While this may seem like a silly question, the answer might shock you. 

Because, yes, there are times when a swimmer might be at least partially at fault for a swimmer-boat collision. 

Here are some scenarios where a swimmer might be considered partially at fault:

Violation of Boating Regulations: If the swimmer was in an area designated for boating or failed to follow safety regulations for swimmers they may bear some legal responsibility for the accident.

Visibility Issues: If the swimmer's presence in the water was not adequately visible to the boat operator due to poor lighting conditions, obstructions in the water, or other factors, they may be considered partially at fault for failing to make themselves sufficiently visible to boaters.

Reckless Behavior: If the swimmer's actions contributed to the accident, such as swimming directly into the path of an oncoming boat or engaging in reckless behavior that made it difficult for the boat operator to avoid a collision, they may share responsibility for the accident. This can include swimming under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Intoxicated Boating Accidents 

Another all-too-common occurrence is a boat passenger being injured in an accident caused by an intoxicated boat operator. It is illegal to operate a watercraft in public waters while under the influence of mind-altering drugs or alcohol. 

If a person is drunk while operating their boat and you or a loved one was injured as a result, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries or any property damaged in the accident.

When Is A Written Accident Report Required?

According to Mississippi's boating laws, if a boating accident involves a collision, accident, or other casualty while operated on the state's waters, the operator of the vessel must file an accident report under specific circumstances, including:

  • Fatalities: If the accident results in the death of any person
  • Injuries: If the accident causes injury, resulting in incapacitation for more than twenty-four (24) hours
  • Property Damage: If the accident results in property damage exceeding one hundred dollars ($100.00)

Submitting an Accident Report

The operator of the vessel involved in the accident is responsible for filing the accident report with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP). The report must include a detailed description of the collision, accident, or casualty, along with any other information required by state law.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Failure to file an accident report as required by law can have serious consequences, including penalties and fines. After the accident report is filed, the MDWFP may provide copies of accident reports to federal agencies and the local sheriff's office for further investigation or action.

How A Michigan Personal Injury Attorney Can Assist In Your Case

Don't let the aftermath of a boating accident overwhelm you. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident in Mississippi, give us a call today

At Derek L. Hall Personal Injury Attorneys, our experienced team of attorneys understands the intricacies of maritime law and will work tirelessly to build a strong case on your behalf. From gathering evidence to negotiating with insurance companies and advocating for your best interests in court, we'll be by your side every step of the way.

Contact Derek L. Hall Personal Injury Attorneys today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward justice and recovery. Don't wait—let us help you get the compensation and closure you deserve for your boating accident injuries

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