Boating Accidents in Rhode Island – What To Do
As a coastal state, Rhode Island provides access to some of the most gorgeous waters in the United States. But with over 5,000 boats registered in the state, boating isn’t always smooth sailing as boating accidents in Rhode Island continue to rise.
When a boat owner doesn’t take their responsibility seriously, disaster can strike. Boating accidents can result in property damage that can cost thousands of dollars or serious injuries that impact your quality of life.
If you’ve been involved in a boating accident, there may be ways to get compensation for your injuries through boating insurance or even with a personal injury lawsuit. So, if you’re curious to learn more, read on to discover important information about boating accidents from a Providence boat accident attorney.
What is the main cause of boating accidents in Rhode Island?
In 2022, there were 33 boating accidents reported in Rhode Island. Some of the most common causes of boating accidents in the United States include the following.
- Boating under the influence (BUI): An impaired boat driver’s actions can lead to devastating consequences. In the United States, operating a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol resulted in 262 injuries and 123 deaths in 2020 alone.
- Distracted Boating: Like distracted driving, an inattentive boat operator can lead to serious accidents.
- Equipment Failure: Sometimes, essential equipment in the boat might malfunction, perhaps due to a boat owner’s failure to upkeep it properly
- Improper Loading: The boat operator may allow too many passengers on the boat at once. Or passengers might ride in unsafe areas, such as off the side or the back.
When should you report a boating accident in Rhode Island?
In Rhode Island, the owner or operator of a boat involved in a boating accident has to file a report soon after it occurs. Boating accident RI reports are made to the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) if they meet the following criteria:
- The accident involves injuries that require medical treatment beyond regular first aid, such as an emergency room trip.
- Someone lost their life or disappeared from the vessel.
- Property damage exceeds $200,000. If more than one vessel is involved, the combined total counts.
- The vessel is completely destroyed.
If you’re the owner of the boat, you should report the accident immediately. If you’re the operator, you should report it within five days. You can find the contact form on the DEM’s website.
What is the penalty for boating under the influence in Rhode Island?
Alcohol is one of the most common causes of boating accidents in the United States, and in Rhode Island, it’s illegal to operate a boat while under the influence.
A person can be convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) if they operate a boat with an illegal substance in their system or have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more.
The penalty for a BUI can vary, depending on the severity of the incident. For example, a first-time BUI conviction is a misdemeanor and can result in boating under the influence penalties such as boating license suspension, fines, or community service. But, a boating accident that causes a serious injury could result in a felony conviction that may include jail time. So if you are boating to Block Island, be careful.
If you’re accused of a BUI, consulting a criminal defense attorney should be your first option.
Does boat insurance cover personal injury?
If you’re injured in a boating accident, you may be able to get compensation for your medical expenses if the at-fault boat owner has boating insurance.
Some boat insurance policies offer liability coverage for boat owners and operators. It’s similar to car insurance in that it can cover both property damage and physical injuries after accidents. The extent of the coverage can vary, depending on the boat operator’s policy.
Additionally, if you also have boating insurance on your own boat, then your policy could potentially provide compensation.
However, some insurance companies may try to shift the blame or not pay all of your expenses. They may try to offer you a lower settlement than what you’re entitled to. So, it’s good to have an attorney in your corner to build your case and negotiate a fair settlement.
Can I sue after a boating accident?
Boating insurance isn’t required by law in Rhode Island. So, if neither you nor the other boat owner has a policy, you won’t be able to get compensation through an insurance claim. However, there might be another way to get financial help for your medical bills.
If you can prove that your injuries occurred due to another person’s negligence, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them.
For example, if the boat accident was caused by an equipment failure due to poor or improper maintenance, the boat owner could be found negligent. Another example: the boat operator could have been distracted with their phone an not looking where they are going. A court could find them liable for the accident.
In order to win your case, you’ll need to provide concrete evidence of negligence. The burden of proof is on you, making help from a Providence lawyer to build your case essential.
A Providence boat accident attorney you can trust
Boating accidents in Rhode Island are complicated by the law. But if you need someone to steer you to smoother waters, Petrarca Law is here to help.
If you’re injured in a boating accident, Petrarca Law is here to help you get your life back on track. We assess your case, work to gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and can file a personal injury lawsuit. Contact our office today for a free consultation.