With their beautiful beaches, bays, and lakes, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and California are known for yachting. Yachts are some of the most popular types of watercrafts; however, when negligently operated or maintained, yachts can be quite dangerous, especially when they are involved in a collision with another watercraft.
If you were injured in a yachting accident, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the party you believe was responsible for the accident. If you retain a skilled maritime lawyer that can prove the defendant’s liability, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries.
Our lawyers have represented numerous captains who deliver yachts for new owners.
Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and California Yachting Accident Lawyers
If you were injured in a yachting accident, contact BoatLaw, LLP . Yacht crewmembers typically qualify as seamen, who may assert claims for Jones Act negligence, unseaworthiness and maintenance and cure for their on-the-job injuries. Passengers on yachts may assert a claim for negligence under the general maritime law when injured on a recreational yachting trip. As skilled maritime lawyers, we can help you recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and more. We can also determine who should be held liable for your losses and file a claim on your behalf.
If you were injured in a yachting accident in navigable waters near Washington, Oregon, Alaska, or California, our team is prepared to take your call. Call 1 (800) 262-8529 or 1-800-BOAT-LAW to secure a free consultation with BoatLaw, LLP today.
- The Death on the High Seas Act
- State Workers’ Compensation Law
- The Jones Act
- Statute of Limitations
- Additional Resources
The Death On the High Seas Act
The Death on the High Seas Act (“DOHSA”) applies when a yachting accident occurs more than 3 miles off the West Coast that results in a fatality. Generally, DOHSA permits family members of people killed in a boating accident to recover damages from those responsible.
Damages refer to monetary compensation an individual may receive. Under DOHSA, individuals may recover pecuniary damages. Pecuniary damages provide fair compensation for calculable losses associated with the death. Typically, only close family members can sue under DOHSA. Expressly, family members permitted to recover damages for wrongful deaths under DOHSA include spouses, children, parents, and dependent relatives.
DOHSA may preempt state wrongful death laws, meaning that once it applies, family members may not be able to recover some of the damages available under state law..
Furthermore, family members may recover damages under DOHSA even if the deceased person contributed to the accident; however, the court must reduce the damages awarded by the victim’s contribution to the accident. This legal principle is known as comparative fault. Finally, if a yacht accident victim has a civil action pending but passes away, the victim’s family members or the decedent’s estatemay convert the personal injury action into a wrongful death case under DOHSA if the negligent act ultimately causing the fatality occurred on the high seas.
State Workers’ Compensation Law
When yacht workers sustain injuries during their employment, they may wish to pursue claims for workers’ compensation. California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska state laws allow injured employees to obtain compensation from their employers. However, state worker’s compensation laws only cover certain yacht workers. For state law to apply, yacht workers must work on bodies of water enclosed entirely by state lines. Many yacht workers work on the ocean, and state law does not cover them. When yacht workers are employed on vessels in navigable waters, a federal law known as the Jones Act, rather than state law, applies to their on-the-job injury claim.
The Jones Act
Generally, seamen have no right to receive workers’ compensation benefits under state law. Under the Jones Act, yacht workers can receive damages for yachting injuries that occur in the service of the vessel. The Jones Act covers yacht workers who are employed on navigable waters. Navigable waters include ocean waters, lakes, and rivers that traverse state lines and facilitate interstate commerce. Yacht workers who sustain work-related injuries may sue their employers under the Jones Act.. The Jones Act favors workers. Workers need only establish that the employer’s negligence played a part, no matter how slight, in causing the injuries..
Generally, employers must provide yacht workers with a reasonably safe work environment and exercise a high duty of care to keep the vessel safe. Failure to maintain a safe work environment constitutes negligence when an employee sustains injuries. Examples of unsafe work conditions include:
- Slippery materials on deck
- Broken or poorly maintained equipment
- Lack of necessary equipment
- Inadequate training for the crew
- Unsafe work procedures
- Negligence of the seaman’s co-workers
- Assault by a co-worker
To prove employer negligence, an injured yacht worker must show:
- The employer had a duty to take reasonable care to ensure their safety;
- The employer put their safety at risk, breaching the duty of care;
- The employer’ failure to take reasonable care contributed to or caused their injuries. Under the Jones Act, it is sufficient to show that an employer contributed to an accident in any way; an employee does not need to show that the employer’s actions, or lack of actions, were the sole cause of the accident; and the worker suffered an injury.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is the time period in which a person may bring a lawsuit. Once the statute of limitations expires, an individual generally will not be able to bring a lawsuit to recover compensation for injury or death unless equity requires the statute to be tolled.
- Death on the High Seas Act – The Death on the High Seas Act has a three-year statute of limitations. Therefore, family members of deceased yacht accident victims must file their claims within three years of the death to recover damages under DOHSA.
- Jones Act – Similar to DOHSA, the Jones Act has a three-year statute of limitations. Injured yacht workers must file claims for compensation within three years after sustaining an injury.
Death on the High Seas Act– The Death on the High Seas Act allows representatives of deceased seamen to recover damages.
Oregon State Marine Board Boating Incidents and Fatalities– The Oregon State Marine Board provides information about boating safety and statistics about boating injuries and deaths.
California Division of Boating and Waterways: California Boating Accident Statistics– The California Division of Boating and Waterways provides statistics for boating accidents in northern and southern California up to 2016.
Yachting Accident Attorneys | Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California
If you have been injured in a yachting accident, contact BoatLaw, LLP. Our skilled maritime attorneys know how to use the Jones Act and other maritime laws to protect your legal rights. We can review your case and help you determine the proper compensatory scheme that maximizes your recovery. With our proven record of success, you can be confident in our ability to retain optimal compensation on your behalf.
The knowledgeable yachting accident attorneys at BoatLaw, LLP are licensed to litigate in the courts of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California. Our maritime lawyers represent clients residing nationwide. Call 1 (800) 262-8529 or 1-800-BOAT-LAW to secure a free consultation.