Arkansas Boating Accident Attorneys
PROUDLY SERVING ALL OF ARKANSAS with offices in little rock, Mountain Home, & Texarkana
Here in the Natural State we have many opportunities for on the water recreation. Whether you are on Lake Ouachita, Lake Millwood, Lake Norfolk, Lake Catherine, Lake Hamilton, Lake DeGray, or any of the many other lakes located from Hot Springs, Ashdown to Fayetteville, locals and tourists alike can enjoy everything from parasailing to yachting and all manners of water activities in between. Unfortunately, some do not respect their safety obligations and people can and do get hurt.
Just like when driving on the highway, Arkansas boat operators have a duty to act as a reasonably careful person would do under the circumstances. The failure to do so is deemed “negligence” in the same way as when driving a car or other vehicle. Again, just like on the roadways, boat and Jet Ski operators must avoid taking those actions that a reasonably careful person would foresee as creating an appreciable risk of harm to others. Therefore, boat drivers must refrain from negligence and operate boats in a careful manner or answer under the law to their injured victims.
If you or a loved one are injured while on the water, our attorneys stand ready to take action to ensure compensation is fairly paid to those suffering from the carelessness of others. Such claims commonly involve:
- Boating collisions
- Jet ski collisions
- Swimmers hit by careless boat drivers
- Drunk boat drivers
- Failure of onboard equipment
Most Common Types of Boating Accidents in Arkansas
- Collision with recreational vessel
- Collision with fixed object
- Skier mishap
- Jet Ski collision
What Causes Boating Accidents?
The following careless boater actions often cause harm to innocent people trying to enjoy Arkansas’ recreational waterways:
- Operator Inattention
- Improper lookout
- Operator inexperience
- Excessive speed
- Alcohol use
- Machinery failure
- Navigation rules violation
- Hazardous waters
- Force of wave/wake
Alcohol use is one of the most preventable common causes of boating accidents. Under Arkansas law, a jury sworn to decide a case involving an intoxicated boat operator will be instructed that intoxication does not excuse a person from having to act as a reasonably careful sober person would act. Those choosing to drink alcohol while boating cannot avoid the responsibility to operate watercraft safely.
Second to excessive alcohol use, many of the other causes of accidents are equally preventable when boaters take time to learn how to safely use a boat and keep it well-maintained so that it can be reliably operated. It is just as easy to avoid excessive speed while following the “rules of the road” for boating. Those failing to heed these simple safety practices injure many people.
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Many accidents are caused by the failure to appreciate the complexity of driving a boat or Jet Ski on the open water. Because most people take to the lake or rivers on days well-suited for outdoor recreation, they may become lulled into thinking that boating is no more dangerous than driving a vehicle. Perhaps that is true at times, but unlike cars, most boaters do not use seatbelts. Unfortunately, what this can mean to those injured in high speed boating accidents is that, rather than being restrained and safely caught by an airbag, a recreational boater may be launched from the collision and into the open water, suffering body trauma that prevents basic swimming and water treading techniques. Drowning is among the top causes of death on the water.
As for the causes of such accidents, many people fail to appreciate that boat drivers must maintain constant vigil to see people and other boats approaching from all sides. Failure to keep an eye out for other boaters is a leading cause of preventable boating accidents.
Inexperience is common factor. Many people only take out boats and water toys a few times a year. Consequently, they may fail to become as familiar with the “rules of the road” for boating on a busy lake or waterway. Due to infrequent use, boaters often lack sufficient skill and sometimes fail to master confusing boat controls. Not surprisingly, this inexperience can result in severe injury to the driver’s own passengers and other boaters on the waterway.
Finally, even more experienced boaters can find themselves in unstable waters. Unlike the usually stable road bed engineered and constructed with load bearing considerations in mind, boaters have to operate the boat in waterway that may change from moment to moment based upon the weather, other boaters, debris or water hazards floating on the surface or hidden under water. Even skilled operators can find themselves in less-than-desirable conditions when out on the water.
What documents or records should I be getting together for my case?
Any relevant information you have regarding the accident should be gathered. This includes, but is not limited to, photographs, videos, written notes you made regarding the accident (i.e. your present sense impression, any witness names), a copy of the police report, your insurance information, any reports reflecting the estimated damage done to your vehicle (i.e. cost of repair), any medical bills that stemmed from the accident. If you have any questions about what information may be relevant to your potential claim, give us a call and CCR will be happy to help you make that determination.
Can I get any bills paid without filing a lawsuit?
There is a surprisingly simple way to get payment for all your damages without filing suit. By keeping records and documentation about the accident up to date and in order, you can make a copy available to the insurance company, if they are agreeable to a reasonable settlement.
In many cases, unfortunately, the insurance company is less enthusiastic about fulfilling their obligations. We have seen instances of insurance companies prolonging legal negotiations in the hopes that the injured party will eventually grow tired of waiting and settle for a lesser amount than they may be awarded in court. Insurance companies are for-profit corporations with bottom-lines, and they usually conduct themselves in that manner.
If you have been in an accident and feel you are getting short-changed by the responsible parties’ insurance, contact a qualified personal injury attorney today. Here at CCR we are able to answer your insurance related questions, and offer free consultations.
How can I pay my accident bills until my lawsuit is resolved?
This complex issue involves details specific to your own health and auto insurance policies. For example, a majority of automobile insurance policies provide Personal Injury Protection (PIP) for medical payment “MedPay” benefits. Most people have this coverage and seek benefit of payments from their own automobile insurance policy to pay healthcare providers in an amount up to $5,000 (the actual amount of coverage may vary). MedPay commonly covers medical expenses for the insured, their passengers, other drivers on the policy, and members of the insured’s household. What many people do not realize is that MedPay insurance coverage provides payments to its own insured(s) even if the other driver is at fault.
Other sources of insurance payments might be available to pay for the medical bills as they accrue to include: Private Health Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and supplemental health insurance policies. Unfortunately, many healthcare providers have adopted billing practices making it much harder for accident victims to get their bills paid as they accrue and avoid collection. The results of these practices leave accident victims uncertain they will obtain the benefit of health insurance payments. This takes further discussion to illustrate.
In the past, injured victims could easily submit health insurance claims on his or her health insurance policy as they accrued. Indeed, the medical care provider would do this automatically. This is no longer true as many Arkansas healthcare providers choose to forego submitting accident related insurance claims to known health insurance providers (including Medicare and Medicaid) until they can determine whether they may recover more money from the insurer of the liable third-party who caused the collision. Since this may take up to a year or so to figure out, many innocent accident victims find that even though they have private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, the medical bills are not getting paid and in fact turn are often turned over for collection. Yes, even though an accident victim may have health insurance coverage, the health care provider may not seek payment and instead turn over the accident victim to bill collectors. This is because the healthcare provider(s) never turned in the claim for payment from your health insurance at all. Healthcare providers have negotiated contractual obligations to accept lower payments for service charges paid by private health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. Therefore, if the healthcare provider quickly submits billing to a private health insurer, Medicare, or Medicaid (which exist solely to provide benefits for their insured after all), then the healthcare provider may lose the chance to get paid more from the insurer of the liable third party. Additionally, in most instances, the right to leverage and seek payment directly from the innocent accident victim grants stronger rights than if the private health insurer, Medicare, or Medicaid sought reimbursement from the liable third party’s insurance company. This leaves many accident victims in the middle and adds to the anxiety and stress caused by the collision because many find that, in addition to being forced out of work and needing to seek medical treatment, the harm is compounded by harassing collection notices, letters, or phone calls and devalued credit scores.
If you have specific questions about your medical bills getting paid give us a call and we can assess your specific situation.
How do I know if the insurance company is being fair with me?
You probably have no way of knowing unless you have prior experience as an insurance adjuster or attorney. Every insurance company hires and pays the salaries of scores of investigators. Those investigators have responsibilities to report to the insurance company first; they answer to the people who pay them first. This may affect your claim in that insurance investigators, also called “adjusters” are trained to gather information in ways allowing them to discount and devalue claims by looking for anything that might prop up an argument challenging fault or proof of damages. Generally, these investigators are very busy and have many claims to handle. It is only natural for them to pay attention to well-documented claims compiled and presented by attorneys who know what they must consider when deciding whether and how much to pay for a particular claim. Your life-altering accident is only “a claim” to the insurance company; one of tens or hundreds of such “claims.” You lost a loved one or the use of your body and the insurance company has a computer and file folders keeping track of your injuries and damages, and they only pay for what gets included in those files. The insurance company has teams of investigators and attorneys to document their file, shouldn’t you? Shouldn’t you have someone who knows how to make sure your life and your claim are being given a fair shot?
To know if you are being made a reasonable offer, it is best to get a second opinion from someone with extensive experience in representing injured people whether the injuries came from: automobile collisions, truck accidents, airplane crashes, or boating incidents. We have an extensive understanding of tactics used by large insurance companies from working for them and against them. When turning our focus and experience to help those wronged by insurance companies, we developed significant experience representing injured accident victims. We don’t take every case, but for clients we choose to represent, we put our experience to work to ensure our clients obtain the level of compensation they are owed and for which they deserve.