Accidents occurring on land are usually governed by state law, but those that occur at sea or on international waters are often governed by special maritime laws. One of the significant differences between the two, includes the statute of limitations or time period to file a lawsuit. The time permitted to file a lawsuit is generally limited to three years for maritime suits. There are even some circumstances, frequently involving cruise ships, where this time is further reduced.
There are also unique challenges when proving a boating accident resulted from someone else’s negligence. For example, in a car accident case, there may be tire marks, debris or other recognizable pieces of evidence. However, the fluid nature of a boating or ship accident makes finding and collecting evidence more difficult. Indeed, a boating accident scene can disappear within seconds after it happens.
Taking photos immediately following the incident can be a helpful way to capture the evidence. Also, gathering the names of witnesses with contact information is important. On land, people tend to linger about following an accident; on water, this may not be possible do to the nature of the location and other water craft.Before filing any lawsuit, like other claims, your attorney may draft a demand letter that notifies the other party of your claim. This letter will outline the injuries suffered, as well as, any settle demand. Once a boating accident case goes to trial, many of the familiar aspects of the legal process become apparent: the calling of witnesses and use of available evidence is presented.
It is important not to delay contacting an experienced attorney following a boating accident. The unique laws and procedures must be carefully addressed to increase the likelihood of success on the merits.