Boating is a pastime many enjoy, never dreaming it might end in catastrophe. In the unfortunate event that a victim dies in a boating accident, their family might be able to get justice on their behalf.
If your family member died in a boating accident, first, you should ensure the accident is properly documented with local law enforcement agencies. Next, surviving loved ones should get an autopsy done on a victim to determine the cause of death. Then, identify who among the survivors is a victim’s personal representative. That individual will most likely be the one to file a claim. After determining the jurisdiction for your case, you will be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Depending on where you live, recovery may be limited to economic damages. You might have to file a concurrent survival action to recover compensation for pain and suffering.
To learn more about how our boating accident lawyers can help you with your case, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. today at (305) 204-5369.
What Should I Do if My Family Member Dies in a Boating Accident?
Boating accident deaths are often due to negligence, meaning you might be able to file a claim if your family member died in such an incident. In order to do that, it is important that you thoroughly document the accident that caused your family member’s death and take other steps that can allow you to sue the negligent party responsible.
Document the Incident
All boating accidents that result in death must be reported to the police, or other equivalent maritime agency, depending on the location of the accident. If you were on the boat at the time of your family member’s death, you can report it immediately. If you were not on the vessel when your loved one died in a boating accident, you can file a police report after. While those aboard the boat at the time of the victim’s death should have informed the necessary law enforcement agencies, it may benefit surviving family members to make sure of that and speak to the police.
Get an Autopsy
After a death due to negligence, it is important to determine the cause. This is especially true if you plan on suing the party responsible. In a lawsuit, our Jacksonville boating accident lawyers must present evidence against the defendant. If your loved one’s death was due to drowning, it is important to have medical evidence from an autopsy that confirms that fact. Autopsies can also reveal other injuries that might have caused or led to a victim’s death, such as head injuries.
Identify the Personal Representative
Each state places its own restrictions on who can sue following a victim’s death. In Florida, for example, only a victim’s personal representative can bring a wrongful death claim. While often a victim’s spouse, parent, or child, a personal representative can be anyone. If not named by a victim before their death, a personal representative can be appointed following their death. It is important that you identify the victim’s personal representative to learn who among your family is eligible to bring a wrongful death claim.
Know the Type of Vessel
Next, it is important to identify the type of boat your loved one died while on. For example, commercial vessels might have caveats on passenger tickets that limit liability for accidents or the timeframe during which a person can bring litigation. This is popular among cruise ships. If the victim died while on a recreational boat, such as a friend’s, there would be no such restrictions on you bringing a claim in the future.
Determine the Jurisdiction
Because many boating accidents happen on the water, you might be dealing with another jurisdiction regarding your wrongful death claim. This might mean that your claim is filed in federal or state court, depending on how far out into navigable waters the accident occurred. Most often, maritime wrongful death claims are brought in federal court when a victim was working on a vessel at the time of an accident. If your loved one was killed while on a cruise ship, their ticket might stipulate that a lawsuit must be brought in a specific state. Once you determine the jurisdiction, you will know where to file your claim.
Bring a Claim
After laying a solid foundation, it will be time to file your maritime wrongful death claim. Depending on the state that has jurisdiction over your case, you may generally have one to three years to file a claim. For example, in Florida, the statute of limitations to sue for wrongful death is two years from the date a death occurred. If you are suing in federal court, you will have three years to do so.
Compensation in wrongful death claims typically covers economic damages. For example, a victim’s eligible family members may be able to recover compensation for loss of financial support and damages to cover funeral and burial expenses.
Some states allow surviving family members to recover compensation for pain and suffering or mental anguish following a wrongful death. A boating accident death might feel especially sudden and traumatic, increasing the need for non-economic damages. Suppose your state does not allow recovery of non-economic damages in a wrongful death claim. In that case, you will most likely be able to file a survival action alongside your wrongful death claim to recover compensation for pain and suffering. Recovery might be limited if your loved one died while working on a maritime vessel. Recovery only comes after proving a negligent party’s fault, so taking the proper steps following a loved one’s death in a boating accident is crucial.
Get Justice for Your Loved One Who Died in a Boating Accident
To get a free evaluation of your case from Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A., call our Florida boating accident lawyers at (305) 204-5369.