Many locals and visitors like to jet ski on the lakes around the Knoxville area, like Norris Lake and Ft. Loudoun. But while riding on jet skis is a fun pastime, it is not without its dangers. Operators are often inexperienced, ride recklessly, and get too close to swimmers and other personal watercrafts (PWCs).
If you were injured in a jet ski accident, you might be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries. Note, however, that accidents on the water are complex in nature and are subject to maritime law. Plus, insurers and jet ski rental agencies often try to deflect liability to reduce the amount they pay victims. To protect your rights and obtain the maximum settlement possible, call the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC to talk to a jet ski accident lawyer in Knoxville, TN today: 865-999-0868.
Can I file a liability claim for a jet ski accident?
In a sense, jet ski accidents are like motor vehicle claims in that you can file a claim and recover damages if you can show that another party was negligent. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) explains: “The owner of a vessel may be responsible for any injury or damage done by his or her vessel whether the owner is present or not. This shall not hold true if the vessel is used without the owner’s consent.”
If you were injured by a jet ski operator, it is important to determine if that person’s negligence caused the accident. For example, he may have engaged in the following behaviors:
- Making dangerous maneuvers (e.g., jumping another vessel’s wake)
- Failing to yield right-of-way
- Carrying too many passengers
- Riding in the no-ride zones or next to diving flags
- Riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol
If any of these apply, you can probably file a claim against that operator and seek damages. Other parties may be at fault, as well. For instance, if the jet ski was defective, you can file a liability claim against the manufacturer.
Liability also depends on what role you played in the accident. If you were the operator of the jet ski and were injured, liability can get particularly tricky. Do you own the ski outright? If so, you might need to rely on your own insurance company or file a claim against a third party like the manufacturer or another at-fault vessel owner. If the ski was a rental, you probably had to sign a waiver that released the company from liability. However, suing the jet ski rental company might be appropriate if its negligence led to the accident.
Determining whether you have a valid claim you can pursue takes investigation, knowledge of maritime laws and insurance claims, and swift action. To ensure your claim is handled correctly, speak to our jet ski accident lawyer in Knoxville, TN.
What kinds of damages can I collect for my jet ski accident claim?
If you win your jet ski accident claim, you can obtain compensation, or damages, for your injury-related losses and expenses, such as for:
- Current and future medical bills
- Loss of wages and disability
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of quality of life
- Pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other emotional harms
Also, if your loved one was killed in a jet ski accident, you can speak to a lawyer about filing a wrongful death claim against the appropriate party. You can recover damages such as for loss of consortium, the medical bills your loved one accrued prior to death, loss of financial contributions your loved one would have made had he lived, loss of love and guidance, funeral and burial expenses, and mental anguish.
There are various kinds of financial, mental, and physical losses that you can seek compensation for on your personal injury or wrongful death jet ski accident claim, but you are probably unaware of just how much you can recoup. For a free case evaluation and help calculating the overall value of your claim, call 865-999-0868.
How do I prove my jet ski accident claim?
Proving your case comes down to the quality and quantity of the evidence you have to demonstrate fault. Your lawyer can help you collect appropriate evidence quickly, before it is lost or destroyed. Some of the items that might be useful include:
- Eye witness reports
- Police reports
- The at-fault operator’s toxicology report
- Video footage of the accidents, which is not uncommon these days with people constantly taking videos for social media
If the authorities fined or jailed anyone involved in the accident for reckless operation, those records can help justify your case, as well. “Reckless operation of a vessel, water skis, or similar device is one of the most serious offenses in Tennessee boating law. Violations are punishable by a fine of $2,500 and six months in jail. Additionally, the Coast Guard may impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 and imprisonment of one year. Reckless operation is defined as any act which endangers life, limb, or property,” explains the TWRA.
Do I need to hire a jet ski accident lawyer for my case?
With all the complexities of jet ski accident cases, it makes sense to consult a lawyer. Insurers often try to skirt liability by apportioning blame to the victim, or by limiting the value of your damages by settling too early or denying the severity of your injuries. They also sometimes try to limit victims’ claims to just the value of the jet ski. This could greatly thwart your claim if the jet ski is only valued at a couple of hundred dollars while your medical bills and loss of wages total thousands.
Plus, most people are unfamiliar with the maritime and state laws that apply to PWC accidents such as jet ski crashes. You probably do not know exactly what your rights or duties are, what you can recover, what all the confusing language in waivers and insurance policies mean, or how to effectively navigate around the other party’s defenses.
Our jet ski accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC do. Our team of qualified injury attorneys is dedicated to helping our clients seek maximum compensation who suffer injuries resulting from others’ negligence. Contact our office today by calling 865-999-0868 and speak to one of our team members about your accident today.