San Francisco Boat Accident Lawyers
Suffering Injuries from a California Boating Accident?
Spending a day at the lake can be a lot of fun, but when a boat operator fails to exercise reasonable caution and care, it can turn into a nightmare. In almost all boating accidents, operator inattention was cited as a cause, meaning that a driver failed to fulfill their responsibility to keep others safe. If you or a loved one were injured in a boating or watercraft accident in California, call Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn today. Our San Francisco boat accident attorneys can help you build a case for the compensation you need to recover from your injuries.
Call (415) 940-7176 to schedule your FREE consultation.
Get Maximum Compensation for Your Injuries
If you were hurt, our firm can help you seek compensation for:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future loss of wages
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Property damage
In most cases, you will bring your lawsuit against an insurance company. These businesses enlist huge teams of lawyers to interpret agreement contracts in such a way that they will not have to pay out a settlement—especially not a fair one. This is why you need an equally powerful advocate on your side.
Common Causes of Boat Accidents
When a person chooses to operate a boat, they are expected to know how to do it safely. Many accidents might have been avoided had an operator known how to use their boat in a responsible manner.
Factors that are often involved in these accidents include:
- A lack of safety equipment
- Intoxication from drugs and alcohol
- A lack of training.
Responsible boat use means exercising caution in these areas.
In addition to operator error, many boat accidents are caused by defective parts or poor vehicle design.
Boat Accidents Involving Products Liability
Product defects can affect all types of watercraft, including canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, sailboats, fishing boats, jet skis, pontoon boats, speedboats, houseboats, yachts, cruise ships, and more. In other words, they run the gamut from simple, non-motorized crafts to exotic luxury liners.
The law of products liability applies equally to accidents involving all of these boats and watercraft.
Failure to Warn Defects
Many products liability cases involving boats and watercraft arise out of injuries caused not by defectively designed or manufactured products, but by products that are potentially hazardous if misused. However, whether the case is based on a claim that the product is defective or that the manufacturer breached its duty to warn the consumer, the plaintiff cannot recover unless he or she can prove that the defect or failure actually caused the injury.
Makers of boats and watercraft have a duty to warn potential users about the possible dangers of their products. That duty does not usually apply, however, to dangers that are obvious or known. For instance, a sailboat manufacturer may have no duty to warn against sailing during inclement weather. Sellers and reconditioners of hazardous products, too, may be held liable for failing to warn because, like manufacturers, they are in a better position than consumers to control the dangers arising out of product defects.
Common Defenses Used By Negligent Manufacturers
As in all products liability cases, a variety of defenses are available to manufacturers of boats and watercraft, such as arguing that the alleged defect was not the proximate cause of injury, the plaintiff was contributorily or comparatively negligent, the plaintiff assumed the risk, the plaintiff misused the product, the plaintiff altered or modified the product, or the defendant complied with all applicable industry and safety standards.
Some other defenses, however, are specific to the watercraft context, such as that the operator was carrying a passenger on a craft intended for one person. The plaintiff may counter by asserting that the design of the vehicle gives the appearance that passengers are allowed, even when warning decals declare otherwise.
Advertisements for watercraft can create warranties about the quality of the product and can be admitted as evidence of normal use. A defendant would have a hard time arguing, for example, that it could not anticipate its jet skis being used to jump large wakes when its television commercials for the product depict just that.
An advertisement demonstrating a speedboat’s stability when turning tight corners can also represent that the product is capable of performing in a similar manner to the average user. In either case, admission of the advertisements into evidence will help support a plaintiff’s claims against the manufacturer.
Holding Manufacturers Responsible for Boat Accidents
Lawsuits serve not only the need to compensate victims of accidents involving defective products but can also as a watchdog over manufacturers to ensure product safety in the future.
The first goal is achieved through compensatory damage awards, which compensate victims for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The watchdog goal is accentuated through punitive damage awards, which go beyond compensating the victim and are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct by the same manufacturer in the future, as well as other manufacturers. Punitive damages awards can reach millions of dollars, so it is easy to see how they can be effective deterrents.
A plaintiff attempting to prove a product's liability claim may rely on expert testimony on the product’s defectiveness, evidence that demonstrates the product’s dangerousness (such as a videotaped experiment involving the product), and evidence of other accidents involving the same product. The defendant, on the other hand, may seek to offer expert testimony on the safety of the product, evidence of compliance with government and industry standards, and evidence of custom in the industry in their defense.
If you think that you may have a claim based on a defective boat or other watercraft, it would be wise to seek legal counsel. Statutes of limitations provide strict limits on the time period in which claims may be raised. Your attorney can advise you on whether you have a valid case and can represent you throughout the entire legal process to fight for the best possible resolution.
Call Us Today for Your Free Consultation
By getting started right away, we can help you plan your case and gather evidence with the goal of securing maximum compensation for your injuries. We have relationships with legal professionals throughout San Francisco, and we can leverage them for your benefit. California only allows for personal injury lawsuits to be brought within two years of the date of the injury, so you need to be ready with an airtight case.
Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn is not intimidated by large insurance companies. We know their tactics, and we are prepared to fight aggressively to ensure that you have the best chance at a favorable outcome. Don’t lose out on the compensation you need by being underprepared; call our firm for the help you need.
Contact our boat accident lawyers in San Francisco at (415) 940-7176 to get started on your case.