When you go out for a day on the water, the last thing you expect is to end the day dealing with the aftermath of a boating accident. But, these accidents happen far more often than they should, and many boat captains and passengers find themselves suddenly and unexpectedly dealing with life-altering injuries.
Here’s What to Expect During Your Florida Boating Accident Case
If you have been injured in a boating accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation under Florida law. Here is an overview of what you can expect when you hire a lawyer to file a claim for damages:
1. Your Lawyer Will Sit Down with You to Understand Your Situation
First, your lawyer will sit down with you to understand your situation. Your free case evaluation can take place in person or over the phone, whichever you prefer. Your lawyer will ask you questions about what you remember, discuss potential claims arising out of your boating accident, and provide a preliminary assessment of your legal rights. Your lawyer will also answer all of your questions and explain your next steps if you decide to move forward.
2. Your Lawyer Will Send an Investigator to Find Out What Happened
If you decide to move forward with your boating accident case, your lawyer will send an investigator to find out what happened. Depending on where and when the accident occurred, this may involve visiting the scene of the accident to examine the area and preserve any evidence that may still be available. Investigating your boating accident may also involve inspecting each of the vessels involved, talking to anyone who witnessed the accident or its aftermath, communicating with the U.S. Coast Guard or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), obtaining receipts or phone records, and gathering evidence from a variety of other sources.
3. Your Lawyer Will File a Claim with the Liable Party’s Insurance Company
Once your lawyer has examined the evidence that is available, your lawyer will make a determination of liability and file a claim with the liable party’s insurance company. In some cases, multiple parties will share liability, and it will be necessary to file multiple claims in order to recover the full compensation you deserve. If you have already reported the accident to your boat insurance company, your lawyer will take over dealing with your insurance company so that you can focus 100 percent of your attention on your recovery.
4. The Liable Party’s Insurance Company Will Deny Liability
More likely than not, the liable party’s insurance company will deny liability. This is to be expected, and this does not mean that your case is over. Denying liability is a standard insurance defense tactic, and many insurance companies will initially deny liability regardless of the facts involved.
5. Your Lawyer Will Use the Available Evidence to Establish Liability
If the insurance company denies liability, your lawyer will use the available evidence to prove that you have a claim for damages. While there are no guarantees, our lawyers have been successful in convincing the insurance companies to acknowledge liability in numerous boating accident cases. Once the insurance companies are convinced that they would lose in court, they will typically (though not always) be willing to enter into settlement negotiations.
6. You and Your Lawyer Will Work Together to Calculate and Prove Your Losses
In a boating accident case, proving liability is just half of the battle. You also need to prove how much you are entitled to recover.
Along with collecting evidence of liability, your lawyer will also work with you to document your financial and non-financial damages. In boating accident cases, victims can recover just compensation for all of their accident-related losses. This includes their current and future:
- Medical expenses and prescription costs
- Other out-of-pocket costs
- Loss of income and benefits
- Loss of companionship and consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional trauma, pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
Proving your damages will require various forms of evidence—some of which your lawyer will be able to collect, and some of which you will need to provide. Putting in the time and effort to ensure that you fully document the costs of your boating accident will help ensure that you are able to seek the maximum compensation available.
7. Your Lawyer Will Negotiate for a Fair Settlement
Once your lawyer has a comprehensive understanding of your damages, your lawyer will be able to negotiate for a fair settlement on your behalf. Settlement amounts in boating accident cases can vary widely, and making informed decisions in your case will require a clear picture of your current and future losses.
8. You and Your Lawyer Will Discuss Any Settlement Offers in Confidence
If you receive a settlement offer, your lawyer will discuss the offer with you in confidence. Your lawyer will explain exactly how much you will take home if you accept, and your lawyer will give you advice on whether you should keep fighting for more.
9. Your Lawyer Will Take Your Boating Accident Case to Court if Necessary
If you do not receive a fair settlement offer, then the next step will be to take your boating accident case to court. Even at this stage, settling is still a very real possibility, and many cases settle either before or during trial.
10. It Will Be Up to You to Decide When (and How) to Resolve Your Case
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide when (and how) to resolve your boating accident case. Your lawyer will give you advice, but it’s up to you to decide whether you are willing to accept a settlement or you want to keep fighting for more. The outcome at trial is never certain, but different outcomes can be more or less likely under different circumstances. If you work closely with your lawyer, you will be confident in your decision-making—and, more likely than not, you will be satisfied with the outcome of your case.
Get Started with a Free Boating Accident Case Assessment at Searcy Denney
If you need to know more about what to expect from your boating accident case, we invite you to get in touch. Call 800-780-8607 or contact us online to speak with an experienced lawyer in confidence.