Orange County Boat Accident Lawyers
Is an injury you sustain while out on a body of water truly an “accident”? In our experience, rarely. If reasonable steps could have been taken to prevent the injury, and the person who knew better did not take them, you have a case of negligence. By law, “No person shall operate any vessel or manipulate any water skis, aquaplane or similar device in a reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person.”
At Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie, we are here to help people who were injured in an event that was not their fault. Whether you were visiting Orange County or live here, your injuries are more serious than a simple week of recovery. Your life has been disrupted, and you want fair compensation with minimal fuss. We will treat you with dignity and see what we can do to answer your questions and help you recover fully. Call (949) 752-7474 or contact us online to set up a free case evaluation today.
By itself, Newport Harbor sees almost half of all boating incidents in Southern California. Orange County, though small, recorded the most accidents of any county in California in 2016. Most occur in July, on the weekends, and in the afternoon. We see them in Dana Point Harbor, Huntington Harbor, Sunset Harbor, and of course, in the Pacific Ocean.
At Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie, we have represented people who suffered injuries while being pulled by a boat because the driver negligently steered too close to other watercraft, causing victims to be thrown into the side of the boat. We represented passengers of a boat who were injured when the boat hit a large swell, throwing them into the air, after the driver ignored the Coast Guard’s warnings to stay out of the water. Some other situations we’ve seen include:
- A boat colliding with another boat.
- A boat colliding with a fixed, submerged, or floating object.
- A boat flooding or being “swamped” by waves.
- A boat sinking or capsizing.
- Passengers falling overboard or being forcibly ejected from the boat.
- Passengers falling inside the boat, making hard contact with the surface of the boat.
- A boat catching fire or exploding.
- A person in the water being sucked into a motor/propeller.
- A person in the water being struck by a boat.
One of our clients experienced a major hip injury and a head injury when the driver of the boat that was towing her on an inflatable tube rammed another boat. We settled the case with the Automobile Club for policy limits of $300,000.
Our client experienced a major hip injury and a head injury when the driver of the boat that was towing her on an inflatable tube rammed another boat. We settled the case with the Automobile Club for policy limits of $300,000.
Human error accounts for most of the injuries people suffer while boating. In order, these are the top reasons for California boating accidents:
- Operator inattention
- Operator inexperience
- Excessive speeding
- Machinery failure
- Passenger/skier behavior
- Dangerous waters
- Off-throttle steering
- Restricted vision
- No proper lookout
- Ignition of spilled fuel or vapor
- Improper anchoring
- Sharp turn
- Improper loading
- Failure to vent
Open motorboats, cabin motorboats, and personal watercraft represented a majority of the incidents. Most occurred while the vessel was cruising or trying to dock.
Any mistake made on a boat can quickly become fatal. Boat operators have a responsibility to their passengers, as well as every other vessel and person on the water. The greatest risks of a boating accident in Orange County include:
- Drowning or near-drowning: A clear danger of falling overboard, especially in choppy conditions, drowning may be prevented by the use of a life preserver, but not always. Some personal flotation devices are specifically designed to turn an unconscious wearer right-side-up in the water. Others are not. Even if you survive submersion in the water, you may suffer brain damage due to oxygen deprivation.
- Trauma: Whether from striking an object or being struck by one, slipping and falling on the vessel, getting a laceration from underwater hazards or a propeller, any kind of physical trauma at sea can break bones, herniate discs, cause brain damage, and develop infections.
- Carbon monoxide: Boats produce carbon monoxide (CO), a deadly gas, through their exhaust systems while the motor is running or idling. Since the symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the symptoms of too much alcohol, motion sickness from the water, or exhaustion, many operators fail to notice when a passenger is suffering and do not get them help before it’s too late.
- Hypothermia: Cold water is the cause of many boating-related fatalities in California, especially in the ocean. The danger increases as the water temperature decreases below your normal body temperature. Unless the person is a trained cold-water competitor, he or she will experience cold-water shock within one minute in frigid water, and lose muscle control within 10 minutes.
- Electric shock: Especially for swimmers, electrical discharge is a threat on and around the boat. A shock can cause burns, unconsciousness, or heart attack. On a regular basis, the boat owner is required to have his boat’s electrical system inspected and upgraded by a certified marine electrician to be sure it meets the required codes for the harbor.
No matter how the tour boat injury or cruise ship accident happened, a quick response is vital. Little incidents can be made much worse when a boat operator panics. That’s why people who choose to operate boats have so many regulations to follow, by both law and custom.