Recently, two men died in a boating accident on the Tennessee River near the Mississippi state line. The men’s bass fishing boat crashed into a parked barge. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife and County Rescue is investigating the accident. Recreational boating accidents are common in Mississippi and other states with rivers, lakes, or coastal regions. In Mississippi, it is a misdemeanor to operate a boat while under the influence, but many people do drink and boat. Alcohol is a leading reason for crashes, but so are driver distraction, speeding, and machine failure.
In general, those involved in boating accidents in Mississippi must stop and help anyone who needs help as long as it isn’t going to endanger the operator, passengers, or boat. The parties involved in the accident will need to exchange identification and contact information, as well as boat registration numbers. If a boating accident causes death or personal injury, it must be reported to the MDFWP or Marine Resources within 48 hours. When there is property damage over $100 but no injury or death, the accident must be reported within five days.
Whether you were swimming, operating a boat, or angling, if you are hurt by a recreational
boater in Mississippi you can file a lawsuit to recover compensation. In general, if you bring a lawsuit based upon another boater’s negligence, you will need to show the boater’s duty, a breach of duty, causation, and damages. Certain boating behaviors are considered negligent or reckless in Mississippi, including speeding in a no-wake zone, weaving through a congested waterway, exceeding the weight that is designated for a craft, permitting a passenger to ride on the bow or another position that restricts visibility, and disturbing wildlife with the vessel. If a boater violates these rules and causes an accident, his or her violation is strong evidence of negligence for purposes of recovering compensation.
Those who are able to establish negligence can recover past and future medical bills, lost wages, repair of any damaged property, and noneconomic damages like pain and suffering. What if you are partially responsible for the boating accident? Mississippi follows the rule of pure comparative negligence. This means that your own negligence will not bar your ability to recover, but your damages will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault.
If there are multiple people at fault for a boating accident, each responsible person will be liable only for the percentage of damages that are allocated to him or her. For example, if you are operating a sailboat and weaving through a congested waterway, and another boater is speeding and crashes into you, causing you to crash into a boat that has been abandoned by its owner, there may be three responsible parties: you, the other boater, and the owner of the abandoned boat. The jury will assign fault to all three potentially responsible parties. If your total damages are $100,000 and you are 25% at fault, you may be able to recover up to $75,000 from the other responsible parties based on the jury’s assessment of their fault.
Any absent responsible people who contributed to the injury must be assigned fault too. If your injuries would not have been as severe if your sailboat had not crashed into the abandoned boat, but you cannot figure out who abandoned the boat, the jury must still assign that person a percentage of fault.
If you are hurt in a boating accident, the experienced Mississippi personal injury attorneys of Coxwell & Associates may be able to build a strong case on your behalf. Contact us for a consultation.
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Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.