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Birmingham Boat Injury Lawyer

Alabama is home to one million acres of lakes, 1,600 miles of rivers, and 53 miles of coastline. With such an abundance of navigable waterways, it is no surprise that Alabama ranks as one of the top ten states for boating. Whether it’s fishing, cruising, or water sports, recreational boating continues to be one of the most popular activities across Alabama.

While boating is a great way to relax and enjoy Alabama’s warm weather, it does not come without risks. In 2014 alone, there were 4,064 boating accidents in the United States, resulting in 610 deaths and over 2,000 injuries. Two of the most common types of boating accidents are collisions with other recreational vessels and fixed objects.

Alabama Boating License Regulations

The Alabama Boating Safety Reform Act is considered one of the strictest boating safety laws in the country. To legally operate a motorized watercraft (i.e. vessel) in Alabama, you must be licensed and at least 12 years of age.

The legal requirements to obtain a vessel license can differ depending on the age of the applicant. Vessel license applicants must pass a written exam and submit a Certificate of Completion of a Boating Safety Course unless the applicant:

  • Was 40 or older on April 28, 1994, or
  • Has successfully completed courses given by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or
  • Has successfully completed courses given by the U.S. Power Squadron or the Alabama Marine Police “Boating Basics” course

Any operator under 14 years of age must also be accompanied by another licensed individual that is at least 21 years old.

Common Causes of Boating Accidents

Some of the most common contributing factors in boating accidents are:

  • Distracted driving
  • Improper lookout – This is the failure of the operator to keep an ongoing watch of the boat’s path
  • Operator inexperience – On average, boaters only spend 110 hours on the water per year
  • Excessive speed
  • Alcohol-impaired operators
  • Machinery failure
  • Violation of navigation rules
  • Environmental conditions
  • Overloading the boat with too many people or too much equipment
  • Failure to maintain adequate distance

Alcohol-Impaired Boaters

As with drinking and driving a car, alcohol increases the likelihood of being involved in a boating accident. In fact, drinking while operating a boat can be even more dangerous because of environmental conditions; vibrations, wind, spray back, and the sun can compound the effects of impairment. Alcohol use increases the risk of injury for both passengers and boat operators and is the leading factor in fatal boating accidents.

Alcohol can negatively impact boaters in the following ways:

  • Cognitive impairments – poor judgment, decline in reaction time, difficulty processing information, reduced depth perception, difficulty concentrating, diminished peripheral vision
  • Physical impairments – lack of coordination and balance issues, which can be exacerbated by being on water

Under Alabama law, it is illegal to operate a vessel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 % or more. According to the Coast Guard, it is estimated that a boat operator with a BAC above .10%, is more than 10 times as likely to be involved in a boating accident than an operator with zero BAC.

Legal Options after Your Boat Accident

Boaters must operate their vessels in a safe and responsible manner. When a boater is behaving in an unsafe, reckless, or negligent manner, the consequences can be devastating. If you have been injured in a boating accident caused by another operator’s negligent or reckless behavior, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses through a personal injury claim.

With the help of an experienced boating accident lawyer, you may be able to obtain compensation for:

  • Medical costs
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Physical pain
  • Mental anguish
  • Physical impairment
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of use of property

A Birmingham Boat Injury Lawyer Can Help

The Birmingham boat injury lawyers at Belt & Bruner, P.C. have more than 65 years of experience representing people injured in virtually every type of accident, including those involving runabouts, cabin cruisers, fishing boats, sailboats, towboats, jet skis, and other types of watercraft. Our experienced Birmingham vehicle injury lawyers can evaluate your case, investigate your accident to determine liability, and help you pursue a claim for compensation.

Our track record of success in personal injury cases includes numerous recoveries of $1 million or more. We can take on the burden of negotiating with insurance companies or pursuing your case in court so that you can focus on rebuilding your life in the aftermath of a serious accident. Call a Birmingham personal injury attorney today at 205-933-1500 to receive a free consultation.