What Steps Do I Take If I Am in a Boating Accident?

Posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2020 at 8:00 am    

Louisiana is a popular recreation hotspot for boaters. There are several lakes and rivers that see visitors and unfortunately see accidents as well. Boating accidents are just as serious as a car accident and can cause just as much injury. It is important to understand your rights after a boating accident. Contact a boating accident attorney in Lake Charles for all your lawsuit needs.

What Are the Requirements for Personal Watercraft?

Every person that is on board a personal watercraft must wear a United States Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device, such as a life jacket. The driver of the watercraft must also wear a lanyard-style ignition switch that they have attached to themselves, their clothing, or their life jacket.

In the state of Louisiana, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 16-years-old to operate a watercraft under any circumstances. Anyone who allows anyone under 16-years-old to operate a watercraft can be charged as well.

It is illegal to operate a watercraft between sunset and sunrise. Drivers of these types of crafts should avoid areas where there are fishermen, other watercraft that have been anchored, and people swimming in the water.

There is an etiquette when navigating the waters of Louisiana with a personal watercraft. It is illegal for operators to weave in and out of waterway traffic, jump the wakes created by other watercraft when there is a low level of visibility, and to operate in a negligent manner that would cause the operator to need to swerve last minute to avoid a possible collision.

Possible Criminal Charges Involving Personal Watercraft Operation

There are many crimes that can be committed while operating a watercraft. A lot of the same rules that apply to motor vehicles also apply to personal watercraft.

  • Carless Operation – Careless operation is when the operator of a watercraft acts in a manner that is careless to any other person or property or travels at a rate of speed that could be considered outside the realm of reasonable care to bring themselves and their watercraft to a successful stop in time to avoid collision.
  • Reckless Operation – Any actions taken by an operator of a personal watercraft that endangers a person or their body, or the property of any person can be considered reckless.
  • Negligent Homicide – If the death of a person occurs due to the reckless, careless, or negligent operation of a watercraft or while using excessive speed, the operator can be held accountable for the death under negligent homicide charges.
  • Interfering with Navigation – As a personal watercraft operator, it is illegal to operate your watercraft in a way that it hinders others from operating theirs. Basically, you can’t block waterways, passages, or park under bridges. You can be charged if you are found interfering in any way.
  • Intoxication – Louisiana law states that no person can operate a personal watercraft of any kind under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other substances that alter their state of consciousness. In that regard, anyone who knowingly allows a person under the influence of these items to operate a rented or personal watercraft can also be charged.
  • Incapacity – It is illegal for anyone to allow a person who is not mentally or physically fit to operate a watercraft, even if it is their own personal watercraft.

What to Do in a Lake Charles Boating Accident

Much like a car accident, if you are involved in a boating accident it is important to stop the watercraft where the accident occurs. If either person in the accident is injured, the uninjured party must assist them or try to minimize danger unless it will cause personal injury.

The operators of the watercraft involved in the collision must exchange their information. This includes:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Identifying number of the watercraft

This must be done in writing and must be given to anyone injured or anyone with property damage resulting from the collision.

The police, state police, or Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division must be notified immediately if:

  • Severe injury occurs
  • Death
  • Disappearance of someone on the watercraft
  • Property damage that is over $500
  • Total loss of a watercraft due to collision

The driver of any watercraft involved in an accident must forward a department-approved incident report regarding the accident to Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries within 5 days of the accident.

Personal Injury Lawsuit in a Lake Charles Boating Accident

It is important when you are in a boating accident with another person or watercraft to follow the rules associated with reporting the accident. Failure to do so can look suspicious or bring forth larger consequences. If you have been injured in an accident on Louisiana’s bodies of water, hire a Lake Charles boating accident law office who can help you file your personal injury lawsuit and walk you through the process.

ATVs offer fun, but at the cost of serious risks

Posted on Thursday, July 20th, 2017 at 3:26 pm    

All terrain vehicles (ATVs) are a class of motorized vehicles that often get used for recreational purposes. Four-wheelers, snowmobiles, dirt bikes, three-wheelers and similar vehicles intended for off-road driving can exhilarate or injure. Some people, like farmers or Department of Natural Resources officers, may drive them as part of work. In colder regions, snowmobiles are critical to the ability to commute after a major snow storm. Most of the time, however, these vehicles get used as a means of entertainment or diversion. People ride them for the thrill of it, which can occasionally end poorly.

From 2013 to 2015, the most recent years with federal statistics available, the United State Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that at least 35 people in Louisiana died as the result of an ATV accident. Many more suffered serious injuries. While fear of an accident shouldn’t keep you from enjoying your life, you should use caution when driving or riding on an ATV. Especially if your children or other minors will be riding or driving these vehicles, careful operation is critical to the safety of everyone involved.

ATVs are small but can cause huge injuries

Louisiana recognizes that ATVs pose a safety risk to the citizens of the state. In order to limit that risk, all ATVs must be licensed and registered with the state unless they are only used for agricultural purposes. Proof of registration comes in the form of a sticker which should be replaced or renewed every two years. Many people own and enjoy these vehicles, but a small accident can lead to catastrophic injuries, especially if the rider or passenger doesn’t wear safety gear, like helmets and eye protection, while operating an ATV. An ATV will do little to protect you from an accident.

In fact, some ATVs, like three-wheelers, could injure you directly. Rollover accidents are common enough with these less-stable ATVs, and the weight of the vehicle can break bones or even prove fatal in some cases. If the vehicle itself doesn’t hurt you, the surrounding landscape could. Getting thrown from an ATV can result in serious injuries or death. Head and spinal injuries can easily happen when a person moving at a high speed strikes another object or vehicle. Broken bones could also easily happen. Even if you don’t crash, swerving into a tree or building could break an arm or a leg.

Letting guests operate an ATV on your property can be a dangerous decision. A property owner could get held liable for any injuries sustained during the ride. Depending on the person’s insurance policy, the ATV may not have coverage for liability. Because of the inherent risk, it’s important that ATV owners and enthusiasts understand potential risks and consider special insurance. For those injured by ATVs, civil lawsuits may prove the best way to seek compensation.

Teens die while using Facebook Live behind the wheel

Posted on Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 at 2:51 pm    

Everyone on the road knows that distracted driving can lead to deadly results, but that doesn’t stop people for using their phones, eating, operating a GPS, touching up makeup and many other potentially dangerous activities. It may seem like even though people are aware of the consequences, it doesn’t stop them from distracted driving, especially when it comes to their phones. Social media usage had become a deadly distraction for people behind the wheel.

Two teens dead after using social media on the road

A horrifying example of what can happen when a driver is distracted occurred last week in Pennsylvania, leaving two teens dead. Chainiya Morrison-Toomey, 19, was driving while using Facebook Live, a popular live video broadcasting service, which captured the crash and the seven minutes of blackness afterward.

Her passenger, Brooke Miranda Hughes, 18, is heard asking “are you live?” shortly before a tractor-trailer hit the back of the car. The rest of the live video was a flash of lights, a screech of tires and then the blackness. The video on Morrison-Toomey’s page has been viewed upward of 7,000 times.

The two teens were pronounced dead at the scene, while the driver of the truck was uninjured. The teen’s car was driving slowly in the right lane of the highway with a spare tire on one of the wheels, which wasn’t flat. It’s still unclear whether the driver of the tractor-trailer will be charged with any crime.

Distracted driving kills

Distracted driving has been proven to be with countless horrifying cases of people being catastrophically injured themselves or others, or causing the deaths of innocent people on the road. The only consolation for any family whose loved one was involved in a fatal crash like Morrison-Toomey’s is that her actions didn’t kill the other driver. It’s all too often that a distracted driver may end up fatally injuring the other people in the vehicle they crash into.

The most important thing for all of us to remember is that just a few seconds spend checking an email, taking photo or video or reading a text can result in a debilitating injury or death for themselves or anyone else on the road. Don’t take the risk – you can put your phone out of your reach while you’re in the car, or set your music or GPS before you start moving to help lessen distractions. If you must use your phone, pull over to a safe spot before taking that call or sending that text. Your life, and the life of others, could depend on it.

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