One common cause of maritime injuries is poor lighting. Natural lighting only helps during daylight hours, and artificial lighting on boats is not always adequate. This problem is especially common in stairwells and other enclosed areas. At Van Cleave Law, we know how to help people injured in maritime accidents recover full and fair compensation for their injuries. Call our office today to learn more and to speak with a Biloxi maritime attorney.
Who Is at Fault for Maritime Injuries?
Boat captains have a legal duty of care to the passengers on their vessels. If the captain’s negligence causes a collision, they can be held legally responsible for the passengers’ resulting injuries. Boat owners, operators and managers also have a legal duty of care regarding the condition of their vessel, including ensuring that there is adequate lighting.
If a passenger slips and falls, the owner or operator of the boat could be liable for this injury, as well. Some slip and fall accidents are to be expected on a wet boat deck. Passengers have a duty to avoid “open and obvious dangers,” such as sea water on the boat. But this does not excuse boat owners from performing regular maintenance and taking reasonable measures to ensure that the vessel is safe.
Whenever a passenger pays for transport on a commercial vessel, the operator is considered a common carrier. Common carriers can be operators of planes, buses, trains, and other modes of transportation – not just water vessels. A common carrier has a higher duty of care than private boat operators. While all captains must use reasonable care, a common carrier must use the utmost care in order to help customers avoid preventable injuries. This heightened duty of care makes it easier for passengers to hold a common carrier liable for injuries sustained on a boat that provides commercial transportation.
Poor Lighting Can Prove Liability
There are many causes of slip and fall injuries on boats and other maritime environments. One of the most common is poor lighting. Inside the boat, there are many areas that are enclosed and without any access to natural daylight. Stairwells, the marine head and lower decks must have enough artificial lighting to help passengers avoid preventable injuries. The upper and outer decks of a boat have better access to natural daylight, but these areas also need ample artificial light. If a boat captain or owner takes passengers out on the water without enough lighting, they can be held liable for injuries that occur in poorly-lit areas of the boat. Owners and operators can also be liable for failing to change bulbs, or charge flashlights, or take other reasonable steps to ensure that passengers have enough lighting to avoid slips, trips and falls.
Lack of lighting is not just a problem on board a water vessel. Passengers can be injured in marinas and harbors, as well. Docks are often slippery. Boarding ramps and ladders can also be dangerous, so it is important that all these areas have adequate lighting. Injury victims should be sure to consult with a maritime injury lawyer after any injury on or around a boat. The law could impose liability on a harbormaster, marina manager, boat yard operator and others, in addition to the captain. It is important to let an experienced injury lawyer evaluate your claim to identify all potential defendants.
Other Causes of Maritime Injuries
Poor lighting is not the only reason that injuries happen on the water. There are many other causes of maritime injuries, such as:
- Poor weather conditions
- The captain’s inexperience
- Operating a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Poor boat maintenance
It is important to work with an experienced injury lawyer who knows how to prove the specific cause (or causes) of an accident. The cause of an accident determines who is liable for it. Liability creates a legal obligation to compensate a victim for their injuries and losses, and without liability, an injury victim is not entitled to compensation. The experienced Biloxi accident and injury team at Van Cleave Law work with technical experts to establish the causes of maritime accidents. The legal team also has signficant experience dealing with the maritime legal issues that arise in accident cases that occur on a boat, in a marina or on the open water.
Compensation after Maritime Accidents
When an accident victim establishes liability, the defendant must fully and fairly compensate them for all their injuries and losses. These losses include economic damages, such as:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost wages and/or loss of wage earing capacity
- Out of pocket expenses
Victims are also entitled to compensation for non-economic damages. These intangible losses can include:
- Past and future physical pain caused by injuries
- Past and future emotional suffering caused by the trauma of being in an accident and/or extent of physical injuries
- Strained interpersonal relationships with family or friends
- The lost sense of pride in being able to work
- The inability to participate in hobbies
- Missing out on major life events or family gatherings
- An overall decrease in the overall quality of life
Pain and suffering and emotional trauma are very subjective experiences that are very different for every accident victim. As a result, it is difficult to place a dollar value on a person’s non-economic losses. Insurance companies try to take advantage of this uncertainty to make lowball settlement offers. A claims adjuster might say that a victim’s injuries weren’t really “that bad,” or that the case wouldn’t do well with a jury, or that similar cases have settled for less money. Injury victims should be sure to get advice from their own accident lawyers, who have experience litigating and proving non-economic damages, about what their claims are truly worth.
Contact Us Today to Speak with a Biloxi Maritime Accident Lawyer
The experienced maritime injury team at Van Cleave Law have helped many accident victims get full and fair compensation for their losses. Whether the injury occurs in town, in the marina, or on the open water, injury victims have legal rights that must be protected. Call (228) 432-7826 or contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.