Boating is a popular activity in Indiana. Sometimes nothing can make a warm summer day better than cruising along one of the state’s numerous rivers and lakes with your friends and loved ones at your side. But as enjoyable as boating can be, it is not always safe, with major accidents on Indiana waterways each year.
The United States Coast Guard reports that there were 221 recreational boating accidents in Indiana from 2018 through 2022, resulting in a total of 50 deaths. Even non-fatal boat accidents can inflict grievous bodily harm that may necessitate prolonged treatment at great expense, which is often beyond the means of many Indiana families.
But if you have been hurt in a boating accident in Indiana, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. To increase your chances of a favorable outcome, get in touch with the Indiana boat accident attorneys at Hensley Legal Group, who have been defending the rights of the everyday people of Indiana for more than 25 years.
Call us at (317) 472-3333, chat with us online, or fill out our contact form to arrange a free consultation with a knowledgeable Indiana boat accident lawyer.
Leading Types of Indiana Boat Accidents
Boats can come in many forms, such as open and cabin motorboats, speedboats, houseboats, kayaks, canoes, pontoons, ferries, yachts, and personal watercraft like jet skis, water scooters, and sea-doos. A boating accident can come in many forms too, though the leading types of Indiana boat accidents include:
- Collisions – Boating accidents most frequently involve collisions either with other vessels or with fixed, floating, or submerged objects, which can result in blunt force trauma or a spill over the side of the boat.
- Flooding or swamping – An open boat that is supporting an excessive or unevenly distributed load can be flooded with water, which could cause the vessel to capsize.
- Grounding – A ship may come to an unintended halt when it makes contact with the bed or side of a waterway. Depending on the magnitude of the impact, grounding may cause hull breaches, cargo spills, and onboard casualties.
- Falling overboard – Because the passengers in boats are usually not belted in as they would be in cars or trucks, choppy movements, sharp turns, and sudden stops could cause a passenger to fall overboard and even drown, which is the cause of 75 percent of all boating deaths.
- Fires and explosions – There were 209 reported boat fires in 2022, the highest number in a decade. While these incidents primarily take place on large shipping vessels, any boat carrying combustible materials or experiencing an equipment malfunction runs the risk of igniting or even exploding.
- Water skiing and towing accidents – Not all boat accidents happen on the boats themselves. Passengers being pulled behind a boat at a fast rate, whether on water skis, bodyboards, inner tubes, or smaller vessels, are vulnerable to serious injury when they crash into objects, other boats, or the water itself.
Our Indiana boat accident attorneys are ready to evaluate your boating accident and advise you of your options if you are contemplating a case.
Why Do Indiana Boat Accidents Occur?
Identifying why a boating accident happened is essential to establishing a viable claim. Indiana boat accidents may occur because of:
- Operator inattention – The Coast Guard ranks distraction as the top factor in boat accidents across the country. Failure to pay attention could lead to critical errors in the operation of a ship, potentially make it capsize or crash.
- Inexperience – Lack of experience is the second most common cause of accidents involving boats. Though Indiana law requires younger residents (age 15 or older) to complete a boater education course approved by the Department of Natural Resources before they can operate a ship, older residents with valid driver’s licenses may be able to forgo such training, which can leave them woefully unprepared to maneuver a complex vessel in such an unpredictable environment.
- Improper lookout – Boat operators who neglect to keep an eye on their surroundings or appoint a designated lookout might miss crucial developments on the water, possibly with tragic results.
- Excessive speed – Speeding boaters may have difficulty seeing and evading approaching boats and obstacles while making it more difficult for other boaters to see and react to them, a combination that can make boat accidents more likely and more destructive.
- Machinery failure – Boats are sophisticated machines with dozens of component parts working simultaneously. If any of these parts malfunctions, a boat can break down while it is in use.
- Poor weather – Inclement weather conditions, such as strong winds or heavy storms, can limit visibility and make it harder to operate a ship without capsizing, grounding, or crashing it.
- Drunken boating – Alcohol use is the top factor in deadly boat accidents, playing a role in more than 22 percent of American boating fatalities in the most recent five years on record, along with nearly 9 percent of non-fatal boating injuries nationwide. Alcohol can impair the ability to operate a boat at least as much as it can impair the ability to operate a motor vehicle, which is why the State of Indiana sets the minimum blood alcohol concentration level for intoxication at 0.08 percent for both modes of transportation.
- Violating navigation rules – Whether operating a ship for pleasure or profit, a boater must observe all state and federal rules governing the navigation of boats. Failure to do so could put them in both legal and physical jeopardy.
Hensley’s Indiana boat accident lawyers are adept at uncovering the underlying causes of boating injuries and assessing whether they provide grounds for a civil claim.
Who Is Responsible for an Indiana Boat Accident?
Many individuals and entities could be responsible for a boating accident in Indiana. For example, if you were injured in a single-vessel accident, the operator of the boat in which you were sailing would probably be liable, along with the boat’s owner (if different from the operator). However, if you were injured in a collision involving two or more boats, any of their operators and/or owners could be culpable.
If the boat in question was being used for commercial purposes at the time of the boating accident, such as a ferry, cruise ship, or fishing or shipping vessel, the business for whom the boat was being operated could be blamed as well.
When an accident occurs because of a malfunctioning boat or component, an outside manufacturer, distributor, or retailer may be at fault. In some scenarios, multiple parties could have varying degrees of legal exposure for a single boating accident, for which they could have varying degrees of economic exposure.
In light of how many defendants there could be, it is of the utmost importance to identify and pursue all of them within the time allotted by law, known as the Statute of Limitations. The Statute is two years for most boat accidents in Indiana, though it can be far shorter in claims against government agencies, with further restrictions that might apply under the state’s Tort Claims Act.
Failure to file suit or otherwise resolve your case before the Statute elapses could forever bar you from full and fair recovery – something that Hensley Legal Group will never let happen under its watch.
What Our Indiana Boat Accident Attorneys Can Do for You
A boat accident can turn your life upside down. Before you realize it, you could find yourself overwhelmed by skyrocketing medical bills and out-of-pocket costs, perhaps while your injuries keep you from going to work. It can soon become a challenge simply making ends meet, much less obtaining the funds for the newfound demands on your finances.
When the worst happens, you need personal injury attorneys with the compassion to support you during this troubling period and the wisdom to guide you past it. In short, you need the Indiana boat
accident attorneys at Hensley Legal Group. Since 1998, Hensley has devoted its practice to ensuring that the average Hoosier enjoys equal access to justice.
If you decide to retain our firm, we will launch a comprehensive investigation into the nature of your boat accident and everyone who may bear responsibility for it within the time permitted by law. We will also amass all the materials necessary to build your claim, acting promptly to prohibit their destruction should the situation call for it.
If evidence of wrongdoing by the defendants exists, our Indiana boat accident lawyers will do everything within their power to find it.
Maximize the Value of Your Boat Accident Case
After we have assembled a watertight case against all the liable parties, we will negotiate directly with their insurance companies to reach a settlement that takes the entirety of your losses into consideration, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological and emotional impairment
- Reduced quality of living
- Diminishment of intimate marital relations
- Punitive and wrongful death damages (if applicable)
And unlike many of our competitors, who rarely set foot inside a courtroom, if we do not receive an offer that reflects the true worth of your claim, we are not afraid to go before a judge and jury to secure a verdict that does.
No two boat accident cases are exactly the same, but we will endeavor to maximize the value of yours.
You Won’t Pay Us Anything Until We Win
You might be reluctant to commit to additional expenditures when you may least be able to afford them. Fortunately, Hensley Legal Group works on a contingency basis, so you won’t have to pay us anything until our Indiana boat accident attorneys win your case.
When you boarded that boat, you could not have had any idea of the harrowing journey that lay ahead of you, but our firm will work tirelessly to bring it to a satisfying conclusion.
Talk to an Indiana Boat Accident Lawyer Now
Hensley Legal Group has been fighting for the wrongfully injured for over a quarter century. If you have been badly hurt through no fault of your own, talk to an Indiana boat accident lawyer now to explore the remedies available to you.
You can schedule a complimentary case review with one of our accomplished Indiana boat accident attorneys by calling us at (317) 472-3333, chatting with us online, or filling out our contact form.
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