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Boating Accidents

Boating accidents are common in the United States, particularly during months when there is warm weather. Beyond North Carolina’s expansive coast line, the state is home to many recreational rivers and lakes. In fact, the state’s local bodies of water span four counties - Catawba, Iredell, Lincoln, and Mecklenburg. Endless fun can be had at coastal waters, lakes, and rivers in North Carolina. That being said, this fun can come to a screeching halt when a water-related accident happens. Water-related injuries are more common than you would imagine; hundreds of Americans are seriously injured in boating accidents every year. If you or someone you know has been hurt in a boating accident in North Carolina, contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney today.

Common Boating Accident Causes and Injuries

There are several reasons why a boating accident may occur in North Carolina. Some causes of boating accidents include operating a watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failure to obey water safety guidelines, excess speed, bad weather conditions, operator inexperience, negligent and/or reckless operation, negligent entrustment, and equipment failure to name a few. Common injuries suffered by boating accident victims include drownings, lacerations, broken bones, fatalities, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, cuts and bruises, and property damage.

Boating Regulations

The state’s boating regulations govern public waters within the territorial limits of North Carolina, as well as the sea adjoining the state and the high seas when a boater is plotting a course going to or coming from North Carolina’s shores. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) enforces these regulations, which must be adhered to by boaters operating a watercraft with 10 horsepower or greater. Accordingly, NCWRC officers have the authority to stop boats in order to complete safety checks. They can also stop boats in order to conduct boating accident investigations and confirm a vessel’s compliance with boating regulations.

Boating Safety

All boaters of a certain age must successfully complete a boat safety education course conducted by the NCWRC or one approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBL) and accepted by the Wildlife Resources Commission. As an alternative to these boat safety education courses, a person may lawfully operate a vessel in North Carolina if he or she successfully completes a boating equivalency exam. Passengers under the age of 13 must wear a life vest at all times a vessel is not anchored. Federal and state regulations also mandate personal floatation devices be available for each passenger on board, regardless of their age. These floatation devices must be in good condition and be the appropriate size for the passenger. Despite no set uniform speed limit on its waterways, North Carolina law mandates that vessel operators limit their speed to one that is safe under the existing conditions. Likewise, boaters are banned from being negligent or reckless when operating a vessel.

Damages in Boating Accidents

North Carolina law, like those of other states across the country, place a duty to act with reasonable care in all actions. This means that when operating a boat in North Carolina, the driver must be careful, go at the appropriate speed, not operate a vessel while intoxicated, and make sure the vessel is safe before operating, to name a few. Once liability is found, a victim of a North Carolina boating accident may seek monetary compensation from the at-fault party (or the insurance company). Damages that are available to an injured victim include but are not limited to past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Boating accident cases are complicated and unique compared to other types of personal injury claims. This is because not only does North Carolina state law apply, but so does federal maritime law as these accidents occur on navigable waters that are used or can be used for interstate or foreign commerce.

Personal Injury Help

If you or someone you care about has been hurt in a North Carolina boating accident, it is vital that you seek an experienced attorney right away. The knowledgeable team of lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC understand the complex and unique issues that are presented in boating accidents. Whether addressing jurisdictional issues, complicated medical records, or determining fault, these skilled lawyers will fight for your right to seek monetary compensation. No one should try to navigate this process alone. Call us today at 704.370.2828 to schedule your initial case evaluation with one of our lawyers.