If and when an accident occurs involving PWCs, in order for the victim to be eligible to receive any kind of compensation for it, certain procedures must be precisely observed. At this time it should be pointed that personal injury is not required for a victim to be eligible for compensation. Here is what must be done:
Reporting the Accident
The accident must be reported within 10 days if there is no physical harm involved, otherwise within 48 hours. The report should contain at least one of the following:
- A person has died as a result of the accident
- A person has sustained injuries that require medical care beyond the first aid kit
- There has been damage to vessels or property in excess of $2,000
- There has been complete destruction or loss of a vessel
- A person has disappeared in circumstances that indicate death or personal injury
To receive any kind of compensation there must be proof of third party negligence. The basic consideration of the courts is that an accident may have occurred due to circumstances that were beyond the control or knowledge of the owner or the renter of a PWC, and this complicates the issue, as there might be limited liability involved. Especially renting agencies may require a waiver to be signed before releasing the rental. These waivers have the purpose of releasing the rental agency from any kind of liability.
To be able to establish liability, the claimant must provide proof that the accident occurred due to negligent maintenance, defective parts or vessels, negligent operation and most of all that the other party was legally responsible or at fault. To provide this proof the appointed lawyer must conduct an investigation.
Investigation to Establish Liability
To collect the necessary information that will prove liability, the lawyer must:
- Investigate the scene of the accident or any possible existing photographs and / or videos
- Interview witnesses
- Consult expert witnesses
- Research legal precedence
- Research the applicable laws
- Review the credentials of the PWC operators and their driving history
- Review the history of the specific vessels. It may be possible that the vessels had inherent flaws, such as:
o More power than what they were supposed to have
o Deactivation systems failure
o Propulsion system with life threatening properties
o Inadequate warnings
- Review the credentials of the rental agencies or owners
- Establish if all the legal obligations were precisely observed
The courts may dismiss a case if the judge deems that the victim did not observe at least the basic precautionary measures. For example: If a life jacket was not worn, or if the victim was driving under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances, or there was adequate warning about any deficiencies of the PWC, then the victim will not be eligible for compensation.
As amply displayed, a lawyer that undertakes the responsibility of representing a victim of a Jet Ski accident, has a lot of work to do. We at Singer & O’Neil would be happy to do it for you, as this is what we do.