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Our province’s lakes and rivers offer unmatched beauty and a wealth of opportunity for recreational and sporting activities. Some Albertans may prefer spending time relaxing on beaches while taking an occasional dip or watching children swim and splash about. Others may prefer a slow moving paddle boat ride or canoe or kayak trip to take in the scenery. 

But for the more adventurous among us, there is no shortage of exciting water sports that will get your heart pumping. From waterskiing and tubing, to surfing and wakeboarding, to parasailing and kite surfing, to powering up a sea-doo or jet ski, there is plenty of fun to be had when you step off land. Of course, there are always risks involved and sometimes there are tragic accidents resulting in serious injuries of death. 

No one ever wants to think about what life would be like following a watercraft accident, but for hundreds of Albertans each year the unthinkable becomes an unfortunate reality. In the hours and days following a watercraft accident, victims likely have plenty of questions on their minds: How serious are my injuries? Is there any permanent damage or disability? How will I support myself and my family if my injuries prevent me from working? And, if someone’s reckless negligence was to blame for my injury, what rights do I have to get compensation from them.

The answers are not always easy; but with Litco Law Edmonton watercraft accident lawyers on your side and by your side, you will not have to go through the recovery process feeling alone and scared. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable and compassionate personal injury advocates have been helping accident victims in Alberta for over 40 years and we would be honoured to have the opportunity to explain what we can do for you and/or your loved ones.

Types Of Accidents Involving Watercrafts

An injury-causing watercraft accident can occur in many different ways. Watercraft operators may collide with other watercrafts, rocks, logs, other hazards in the water or swimmers. These vessels may sink due to these collisions or if there is an unrelated defect. Slips, trips and falls on a watercraft or into the water can also result in trauma injuries or drowning. Finally, people engaging in other activities such as waterskiing, tubing or parasailing may sustain injuries if they strike an object or are otherwise thrown off equipment.

Although a watercraft accident is sometimes the result of a freak of nature, most often human error causes or contributes to these events. A person could be found to be at fault for a watercraft accident if they were being reckless while operating a watercraft (speeding, doing stunts, negligent of surroundings), lacking proper training or experience handling a watercraft, or permitting someone who is unlicensed, unqualified, or underage to operate their watercraft. Finally, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs can impair a person’s judgment, time to react to a hazard, or ability to control the watercraft.

Defects, mechanical problems (including carbon monoxide poisoning), improper safety markings in the water and unexpected bad weather are also factors that have been known to contribute to these accidents.

Common Injuries From Watercraft Accidents

Any activity on or near the water creates a drowning risk. If a person is injured, unconscious, impaired or otherwise unable to swim, they could aspirate water and suffer hypoxia causing brain damage, organ failure and/or death. The Red Cross reports that failing to wear a personal floatation device is the most significant risk factor for a drowning following a boat or watercraft accident.

Other common watercraft injuries include:

  • traumatic brain injury when a person’s head hits a watercraft or other hazard;
  • spinal cord injuries or nerve damage caused by falls into a watercraft or from a vessel;
  • broken bones, soft tissue damage, bruising, and cuts;
  • tissue damage from hypothermia from extremely cold water temperatures, and
  • post-traumatic stress following an accident or near-death experience.

While some accident victims will heal from their injuries, others may experience permanent disability. However long a person’s recovery takes (and whatever their new normal looks like), if another person’s negligence caused or contributed to this pain, suffering and loss, a watercraft accident victim may be able to make a claim for compensation. However, unlike the more familiar process of making an injury claim for a motor vehicle accident, the rules and laws covering watercraft accidents are often more complex.

What Should I Do Following My Injury? 

Your first and most important duty is to your health and well-being. If you are able to move, ensure you are brought to a safe place to wait for medical responders. It’s easy to understand the need to be assessed by medics if your injuries are clearly visible or if you are experiencing pain or disability. Internal injuries (concussions, internal bleeding) and muscle sprains and strains may not be apparent, but it is critical you are examined at the site or at a hospital or doctor’s office as soon as possible. If you feel symptoms of an injury in the days or weeks after a watercraft accident, be sure to return to your doctor, a treatment provider or a hospital for further assessment.

Unlike motor vehicle accidents, evidence from watercraft accidents is often much more difficult to obtain – partly because some it will simply wash away. With the absence of stationary surveillance or traffic cameras in the water, video footage of the accident may not exist. Be sure to preserve any GoPro or body camera footage or note if another person may have been taking video. If you or another person with you has access to a cell phone camera, try to take photos/video of your injuries, physical damage to a watercraft, and the scene of the accident. 

Record as much information as possible about other things that may have been a factor in the accident, including the weather, time of day, visibility, presence of safety equipment, and any facts you remember leading up to the accident or what happened afterwards. If you’re not able to write this information down right away, leave a voice message for yourself. Memories can get hazy as time passes, so it’s important to collect your thoughts as evidence as soon as you can.

Police should be called to the scene if there was a serious injury. While they will likely collect names and contact information of accident victims and witnesses, you should do your best to record this information on your own. If a motorized watercraft was involved, ask if the driver has a Pleasure Craft Operator Card and record the VIN number or hull identification number (HIN), which is a number specific to each boat.

Finally, if you’re not sure what to say, it’s often better to say nothing at all. Some statements could be used as an admission of fault in a future lawsuit and may limit the compensation you could receive for your injuries. 

How Can Litco Law Watercraft Accident Lawyers Help?

When watercraft accident victims first contact us for a free consultation, they are often feeling scared, angry, sad, and simply overwhelmed as they try to make sense of what happened to them and what comes next. Litco Law watercraft accident lawyers believe that our clients are people first, and as people who have experienced a horrible accident, they deserve a compassionate and caring advocate to listen to their story, learn how they are feeling, and get to know them as individuals.

Once we’ve learned about you and your case, it’s our turn to explain exactly how we can help. As Alberta’s largest personal injury firm, for over 40 years we’ve assisted accident victims as they deal with insurers, coordinated medical assessments and treatments for their recovery, and advocated for them as they’ve sought fair compensation for their injuries.

While many lawyers may have familiarity with motor vehicle accident claims, as a firm specializing in personal injuries we have developed familiarity with the complexities of other types of cases. Watercraft accidents fall under the Canada Shipping Act and the Marine Liability Act. The Canada Shipping Act regulates motorized watercraft and details registration and licensing requirements, speed limits and age-related restrictions. Complicating matters are exceptions to licensing, however. Visitors to Canada, people renting boats, and people who can otherwise prove competency do not require a license. Moreover, owners and operators of motorized watercraft have legal responsibility for their vessels, but a manufacturer may be liable for injuries if a defect in the vessel caused or contributed to an accident. 

The federal Marine Liability Act outlines the rules and limitations for lawsuits involving personal injury, loss of life and damages. Section 29 of this law limits personal injury and loss of life claims to $1 million for vessels with under 300 tons of gross tonnage unless a plaintiff can prove a defendant was not only negligent, but also knowingly and deliberately reckless and could foresee this recklessness could cause injury. This Act also limits other damage claims to $500,000.

While $1 million may sound like a lot of money, if your injuries are catastrophic and you do not have other insurance to draw on, it may not be enough to cover a lifetime’s worth of expenses and lost earnings. Therefore, Litco Law will always do a full investigation of the circumstances around your accident to determine if we can build a convincing case to break this cap on compensation. By preparing court-ready cases, we have a better chance of convincing a defendant’s insurer to make a fair offer to you.

And although marine time may be complex, we always ensure we use plain language to make the entire process understandable. Taking the time to keep a client informed is part of our commitment to treat you as a person first.

A Reputation You Can Count On

We’re honoured that our industry peers have named us one of Canada’s Top 10 Boutique Personal Injury firms (Canadian Lawyer Magazine) because they’ve seen how we’ve demonstrated our skill in the courtroom, at the negotiating table and within professional organizations. But the recognition we receive from our past clients is what truly drives us to succeed.

Many of our incoming clients tell us they were referred to our firm by a satisfied past client. These past clients have spoken highly about our professionalism, attention to detail, organization, vast knowledge of the law, dedication, ability to communicate and how we made the process easy for them. Most of all, these clients tell their friends, family and loved ones about us because they never felt as though they were just a number or just a case to us.

When you contact a personal injury lawyer, you are most likely trying to find a legal representative to help you make a claim for compensation and/or benefits. But at Litco Law, we know there’s a lot more at stake for you than just the numbers that follow a dollar sign. You may be grieving a loved one lost to an accident or grieving your own losses from a disability. You may need to file a claim to feel a sense of justice if you have been wronged by another person. And, you will probably be trying to rebuild your life and understand what your new normal means to you and those you care about.

Litco Law Edmonton watercraft accident lawyers take a whole-person approach to our work for you and care about all the aspects of your recovery. When our clients see how much they matter to us, they know we are in this field for the right reasons.

Looking For A Watercraft Accident Lawyer in Edmonton Contact Us.

We service the Edmonton and surrounding area, including the counties of Parkland, Leduc, Strathcona, Sturgeon. When you need a Watercraft Accident Lawyer in Edmonton, think Litco Law Personal Injury Lawyers.

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