There are nearly 1 million registered boaters in the state of Michigan, but holding an operator’s license does not automatically mean a person is following the law or driving their craft safely through the Great Lakes and its tributaries. The waterways of Michigan are busy, and they are populated with careful veteran sailors, but Michigan rivers, streams, and lakes are also home to novice boat operators and daredevils.
When You Need a Boat Accident Lawyer in Michigan
Boating-related accidents aren’t uncommon in Michigan, and vessels operated by people who are inexperienced, intoxicated, or distracted are more likely to crash in the water, on the shore, or with another watercraft. Any of these accidents can cause serious injuries, life-altering trauma, and even fatalities. When you are injured on the water, you need an experienced Michigan boat accident lawyer like David Christensen who knows the ins and outs of boat accident litigation and who is qualified to get you the recovery you need.
What Happens When You File a Boat Accident Lawsuit
If you are hurt when your boat hits a boat or pier, or another boat collides with your vessel, you will need help covering your medical expenses. Unlike auto accidents, in the case of a boating accident your medical expenses will be covered first by your own medical insurance. That means you can expect to pay out-of-pocket for your deductible and co-pays.
If the accident is not your fault, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the other boater to make up those expenses. You may also be able to recover damages for your pain and suffering based on the other boat driver’s negligence. Talk to the experienced Michigan boat accident lawyers at Christensen Law to find out if your injuries could be eligible for recovery.
Dealing with Insurance Companies After a Boating Accident
Whenever you are involved in any sort of boating accident, insurance companies get involved, and it helps to have the assistance and expertise of a Michigan boat accident lawyer to help you know who to call, when to call, what to report, and what information needs to be gathered from the other boat operator if one was involved.
If your boat was damaged, you will also be concerned with securing adequate repairs and being able to pay for them. The damage done to your boat may also be covered by your insurance. If your boat is a simple kayak or fishing boat, you may have decided not to insure it separately. In that case, replacing your boat after a boating accident will be covered by your house insurance. The policy may have a cap on replacement costs and could also have a high deductible before it kicks in, so review your insurance policy carefully before taking to the water.
If you are driving a valuable motor boat or sailboat, you most likely have a dedicated boat insurance policy. This policy may have a set amount of money it will pay for your injuries in a boat accident as well as paying to repair or replace your boat. Just like your collision insurance for your car, your boat insurance policy will likely set a maximum payout value for your boat. If your boat would cost more than that amount to repair, it will be totaled and you can use the insurance proceeds to help replace it.
When considering boating insurance, it is also important to look at whether it will apply during off-season or when the boat is in dry dock. Some policies only apply when the boat is in the water, which could leave you high and dry if your boat is damaged over the winter or as you are trailering it to the boat launch.
With the interaction of medical insurance, boating insurance, and negligence actions, a boating accident can become a real legal headache. Don’t leave your injuries to a general personal injury attorney. The team at Christensen Law has been representing boaters for over 20 years. We know how all the pieces fit together and will help you get the full recovery you need.
Understanding Michigan Boating Laws and Requirements
Waterways are not an opportunity to run wild, free from the restrictions that are in place on highways. Boat operators must obey maritime rules and regulations to ensure a safe “driving” area. Michigan waterways are governed by their own laws and when violations occur they are investigated thoroughly by the Sheriff’s Marine Division.
While car, truck, and motorcycle drivers must be 16 and licensed to drive, children under the age of 12 are legally permitted to operate a motorboat. There are some restrictions in place, however, including that the motor cannot be over 6 horsepower. If the child boating operator has earned a boating safety certificate and is supervised by someone over the age of 16, they are permitted to operate a boat up to 35 horsepower. Bear in mind that it is
illegal for children under 12 to operate a boat with a motor that is over 35 horsepower in any situation.
Marine laws extend to govern personal watercraft (PWC) as well, and no one under the age of 14 may operate a jet ski, wave runner, water scooter, or other PWC. Fourteen- and 15-year-olds must earn a boating safety certificate and be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian in order to operate a PWC.
The Danger of Michigan Waterways
Clearly, Michigan waterways are full of young and inexperienced boat and PWC operators. The waterways are also heavy with varied activity – from people who are leisurely enjoying a day on the water to folks who are fishing to motorboats toting water skiers – and different types of crafts, like sailboats, canoes, pontoon boats, and more. Add to this fact the reality that it is impossible to populate a body of water with traffic lights or lane markings in order to guide traffic and maintain order, and you are left with a situation where boating accidents can and do occur. To complicate matters further and put boat operators and their passengers at even greater risk, the state of Michigan does not require boat owners to complete a boating safety course.
No matter how much preparation you do, no matter how well-maintained your water vessel is, no matter how experienced and conscientious you are, the fact remains that when you are on Michigan waterways, you are surrounded by people who are unlicensed, untrained, and utterly unprepared to respond adequately to any and all situations, from equipment malfunction to weather-related issues.
Nearly 75 percent of all boating accidents occur as a result of operator error. Boaters who don’t know the rules of the waterways, are unfamiliar with distress procedures, who have not been instructed on safe and proper navigation and boat operation, who aren’t comfortable with how to manage their vessel in a flooding or electrical emergency, who drink too much, who are distracted by other boaters or the scenery or PWCs – or even smartphones – all cause accidents.
Christensen Law Gets Results in Boat Accidents Claims
Select a Michigan boat accident lawyer who will help you navigate through the difficulties you may endure after a boating accident, and achieve the case results you deserve for injuries you have suffered. As an experienced personal injury attorney, David Christensen has served hundreds of boat accident victims. Christensen Law handles a variety of motor vehicle accident cases including:
A leisurely day on the water can go from pleasant to deadly in an instant. Hire experienced Michigan boat accident lawyer David Christensen to protect yourself and your family after a boating accident.