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New York Boat Accident Lawyer

Because there are so many waterways in and around New York, recreational and commercial boating are thriving industries in the area. Largely due to negligence, boating accidents are not uncommon. Such accidents often leave victims with a variety of serious injuries such as injuries to the back, head, neck, and spinal cord. Broken bones, bruises, and serious cuts are also common. Some accidents involve pleasure craft such as sailboats, speed boats, and jet skis, while others involve commercial vessels such as cruise boats, water taxis and barges. Just like other types of accidents such as car accidents or construction accidents, victims of boat accidents have the legal right to demand that the negligent person who caused the accident pay compensation. However, the laws that apply to boat accidents are complex, and can involve international, federal and state law. Where the accident occurred will impact what law applies. For a boat accident that occurred on non-navigable waters such as a pond, New York state law will apply. If the accident happened in navigable waters, maritime and admiralty laws will apply. If you were seriously hurt in a boat accident, it is important that you immediately contact an experienced New York boat accident lawyer who will help you get the compensation to which you are entitled.

Statistics on Boat Accidents in New York

According to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, there were 173 boating accidents reported in New York in 2020. These accidents resulted in 32 fatalities and 103 injuries. The majority of these accidents (64%) occurred in open motorboats, followed by personal watercraft (18%) and kayaks and canoes (6%).

In terms of the causes of these accidents, the top contributing factors were operator inattention or distraction (30%), operator inexperience (19%), and improper lookout (16%). Alcohol use was also a contributing factor in 14% of the accidents.

Interestingly, the time of day when most accidents occurred was between 4:00 pm and 7:59 pm, which accounted for 33% of all accidents. July was the month with the highest number of accidents, accounting for 28% of all accidents in 2020.

These statistics highlight the importance of boater education and safety measures to prevent accidents and reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on New York's waterways. It's crucial for boaters to follow safety guidelines, maintain proper equipment, and avoid dangerous behaviors like operating under the influence of alcohol.

Types of Boat Accidents in New York

Boat accidents in New York can take many forms, including collisions with other boats or objects, capsizing, flooding, and fires. Some of the most common types of boat accidents include:

  • Collision Accidents. A collision accident occurs when two boats collide with each other, causing property damage and potentially injuring the passengers or crew. Collisions can happen due to various factors such as operator error, navigational errors, or mechanical failure.
  • Capsizing Accidents. Capsizing accidents occur when a boat overturns in the water, either due to high waves or instability caused by overloaded cargo or passengers. Capsizing accidents can cause severe injuries and even death, particularly if passengers become trapped under the boat.
  • Flooding Accidents. Flooding accidents occur when water enters the boat, causing it to sink or become unstable. Flooding accidents can be caused by various factors such as leaks, structural damage, or severe weather conditions.
  • Fires and Explosions. Fires and explosions can occur in boats due to various factors such as fuel leaks, electrical malfunctions, or improper handling of flammable materials.
Where Most Boat Accidents Occur in New York

Boat accidents can occur in any body of water, but some areas are more prone to accidents than others. In New York, the most common locations for boat accidents include:

  • Long Island Sound: This is a popular boating destination that sees heavy traffic during the summer months. Boaters need to be aware of strong currents and sudden weather changes, which can cause accidents.
  • The Hudson River: The Hudson River runs through New York City and is a popular location for recreational boating. However, the river can be crowded with commercial traffic, which can increase the risk of collisions.
  • Lake George: Lake George is a popular tourist destination in upstate New York, and its clear waters and scenic surroundings make it a favorite spot for boating. However, the lake can become crowded during peak season, which can increase the risk of accidents.
  • The Finger Lakes: The Finger Lakes region is home to several large lakes that are popular for boating, including Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake, and Keuka Lake. However, these lakes can be subject to sudden weather changes, and boaters need to be aware of the risks of capsizing and collisions.

It's important for boaters to be aware of the potential hazards in these areas and to take appropriate safety measures to prevent accidents. Boaters should also be aware of local regulations and restrictions, such as speed limits and no-wake zones.

Common Causes of Boat Accidents in New York

Boat accidents can happen due to various reasons. Here are some of the most common causes of boat accidents in New York:

  • Operator Error. Many boat accidents occur due to operator error, such as driving the boat too fast, navigating too close to shore, or failing to keep a lookout for other boats or objects in the water.
  • Intoxication. Operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a significant cause of boat accidents in New York. Drinking while operating a boat can impair the operator's judgment, reaction time, and coordination, making them more likely to cause an accident.
  • Equipment Failure. Mechanical failure or faulty equipment can also cause boat accidents, such as a malfunctioning steering system, engine failure, or defective safety equipment.
  • Weather Conditions. Boating in bad weather conditions, such as high winds or heavy rain, can increase the risk of accidents, particularly if the boat is not equipped to handle such conditions.
Why Boat Accidents Can Cause Serious Injuries

Boat accidents can cause serious injuries for several reasons. First, the force of impact in a collision can be significant, especially if the boat is traveling at high speeds. Even a relatively minor collision can cause serious injuries to passengers, such as broken bones, head injuries, and spinal cord injuries.

Second, boaters and passengers may be thrown from the boat in a collision or fall overboard, which can lead to drowning, hypothermia, or other injuries. Even if a person is wearing a life jacket, the shock of entering the water can be dangerous, especially in cold water.

Third, boats often have a variety of hazardous equipment on board, such as motors, propellers, and sharp edges. If a person falls or is thrown into the water, they can be struck by these objects and suffer serious injuries, including lacerations and amputations.

Fourth, boats can be difficult to maneuver, especially in adverse weather conditions or in congested waterways. If a boat operator is not paying attention or does not have sufficient experience, they may collide with other boats, docks, or other obstacles, causing serious injuries to passengers and other individuals.

Overall, boat accidents can cause serious injuries due to the force of impact, the risk of drowning or hypothermia, hazardous equipment on board, and the difficulty of maneuvering boats. It's important for boaters to take appropriate safety precautions and follow all laws and regulations to minimize the risk of accidents and injuries.

Legal Options for New York Boat Accident Victims

If you have been involved in a boat accident in New York, there may be legal options available to you for pursuing compensation from the individual or entity responsible for your injuries and losses. The following are some of the legal options that boat accident victims in New York may pursue:

  • Personal injury claim: When individuals sustain injuries in a boat accident, they may have the legal option to file a personal injury claim against the responsible party or parties involved. A personal injury claim seeks to hold the at-fault party accountable for their negligence or wrongful actions that caused harm to the victim. By pursuing a personal injury claim, boat accident victims can seek compensation for various damages they have suffered. This can include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
  • Wrongful death claim: In the unfortunate event that a loved one has lost their life in a boat accident, surviving family members or the representative of the deceased may have the legal option to file a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. A wrongful death claim seeks to provide compensation for the losses and damages suffered by the deceased person's family due to the negligence, recklessness, or wrongful conduct of another party. A wrongful death claim can include reimbursement for reasonable funeral and burial expenses. If the deceased was a primary earner or contributed to the financial support of the family, a wrongful death claim may seek compensation for the loss of income or financial support that the family would have received if the accident had not occurred. In a wrongful death claim, the family members may also be entitled to seek compensation for the loss of the deceased person's services, such as household chores, childcare, and other assistance they provided to the family. If the deceased received medical treatment before their passing, the estate may be able to recover medical expenses incurred as a result of the boat accident. Additionally, a wrongful death claim may also address the pain and suffering endured by the deceased before their death.
  • Product liability claim: In cases where a boat accident is caused by a defect in the boat or its equipment, victims may have the option to pursue a product liability claim against the manufacturer or seller of the boat or equipment. Product liability laws are designed to hold manufacturers and sellers accountable for products that are unreasonably dangerous or defective, causing harm to consumers. A product liability claim in the context of a boat accident can involve several elements that need to be established to prove the manufacturer or seller's liability. It must be demonstrated that the boat or its equipment had a defect that made it unreasonably dangerous when used as intended. It must be shown that the defect in the boat or equipment was the direct cause of the accident and resulting injuries. This requires establishing a clear link between the defect and the accident, demonstrating that the defect played a significant role in causing the accident or exacerbating the injuries. The victim must have suffered actual damages as a result of the accident. This can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and other related costs and losses.
  • Maritime law claim: If the accident occurred on navigable waters, you may be able to file a claim under maritime law. This can include claims for maintenance and cure. Maintenance refers to the daily living expenses that an injured seaman would normally have while working on a vessel. This includes costs such as food, lodging, and other basic necessities. The purpose of maintenance is to ensure that the injured seaman's essential needs are met during their recovery period. Cure refers to the medical expenses incurred by the injured seaman as a result of the boat accident. It covers the cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation, medications, surgeries, therapy, and any other necessary healthcare services. The goal of cure is to ensure that the injured seaman receives appropriate and timely medical care to aid in their recovery.

It's important to speak with an experienced New York boat accident lawyer to determine the best legal options for your specific situation and who can help you navigate the complex legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.

Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Injuries sustained in boat accidents can be severe and life-altering, and victims may require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boat accident, it's important to seek legal guidance from an experienced boat accident attorney serving New York who can help you understand your legal options and pursue compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. By holding responsible parties accountable for their negligence, we can work together to promote boater safety and prevent future accidents. At our law firm, we are dedicated to advocating for the rights of boat accident victims and their families, and we are committed to helping them recover the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Brooklyn, Long Island, Queens, Manhattan, Nassau County, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Bronx, and Westchester County.

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When my mom, who is suffering from dementia, faced a slip and fall personal injury lawsuit, I contacted Stephen Bilkis of the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. Not only did he provide a strategy for defending the claim, he also advised me on steps to take to avoid future personal liability. Whether you are the defendant or plaintiff in an injury case, I highly recommend Mr. Bilkis. S.M.
From the very first phone call to Stephen Bilkis' office, the staff was extremely polite and helpful in assisting me. Mr. Bilkis was honest and upfront with me from the beginning in what he projected the outcome of my case would be; in the end we got better results than either of us anticipated. He was very genuine and compassionate in understanding my situation and how this legal matter could effect not only myself but my family as well. I highly recommend this law firm and will most definitely continue using them for any future legal needs. Jarrett
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