Many people live and visit California to enjoy the many opportunities to ride a Jet Ski or WaveRunner. However, enjoying these activities can sometimes take an unexpected turn when accidents occur.
Accidents involving jet skis or WaveRunners can cause serious injuries and property damage. If you or a loved one have been involved in a Jet Ski or WaveRunner accident resulting in damages, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your losses.
Navigating the legal complexities of a personal injury or property damage claim in California can be daunting, but it is essential to understand your rights and options.
The jet ski accident lawyers at the Weinberg Law Offices, P.C., have significant experience successfully representing those who have suffered personal or property damage as a result of watercraft accidents.
Contact a jet ski accident lawyer at our office to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney on our team.
What Are Jet Skis and WaveRunners?
In California, a jet ski is typically considered a personal watercraft (PWC) and is regulated under state boating laws. The term “WaveRunner” is often used interchangeably with PWC.
A jet ski, like other PWCs, is defined as a small watercraft that is powered by an inboard motor and is designed to be operated by a person or persons sitting, standing, or kneeling on the vessel, rather than inside it. Jet skis are known for their agility and speed, making them popular for recreational use on the state’s waterways.
The Rate of California Jet Ski Accidents in California
According to the most recent data from the California Department of Boating and Waterways, there were 568 reported recreational boating accidents in 2021. These accidents resulted in nearly 250 injuries and 40 fatalities, emphasizing the potentially severe consequences of mishaps on the water.
Most of these accidents involved personal watercraft, like jet skis and open watercraft. It’s crucial to note that many of these accidents could have been prevented with proper training, adherence to safety regulations, and responsible operation.
California Jet Ski Regulations
In California, operators of jet skis and similar PWCs must adhere to specific regulations. These regulations include requirements for operator age, mandatory use of personal flotation devices (PFDs), limitations on where and how they can be operated, and rules regarding reckless or negligent operation.
Understanding and following these regulations is essential to ensure the safety of those on board and compliance with California’s boating laws. Violations of these regulations can result in fines, penalties, and potential legal consequences.
Common WaveRunner Accidents in CA
California’s Division of Boating and Waterways reports that the most common jet ski accidents involve a range of scenarios, often resulting from a combination of factors, including operator error, environmental conditions, and other boating or watercraft-related issues. Some example causes of these types of accidents include:
- Collision with another watercraft,
- Operator inexperience,
- Speeding and reckless operation,
- Alcohol or substance use,
- Environmental factors,
- Mechanical failures,
- Lack of proper safety gear, and
- Inadequate supervision.
Understanding and identifying the cause of your jet ski accident is critical to securing compensation from the negligent individual or entity that caused or contributed to your injuries.
Liability for Jet Ski Accidents
Liability for a jet ski accident in California depends on the specific circumstances of the accident. Liability for waverunner crashes is determined based on who was at fault or negligent in causing the accident.
If the operator of the other watercraft involved in the accident acted negligently by disregarding safety rules, operating recklessly, or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may be held liable for the accident. Negligent actions can include speeding, making sudden and dangerous maneuvers, and not yielding the right of way to others.
Manufacturer of the PWC
If the accident resulted from a mechanical failure or defect in the jet ski, the manufacturer or maintenance provider may be liable. This can include engine failure, steering problems, or malfunctioning safety features.
Rental companies that provide jet skis to customers have a responsibility to ensure the watercraft are well-maintained and that renters receive proper safety instructions.
If a jet ski accident occurs due to a rental company’s negligence in these areas, they may be held liable. However, these claims can be complicated to pursue, especially if the rider or operator signed a waiver of liability form.
If the accident was caused by dangerous water conditions, such as strong currents, obscured hazards, or inadequate navigational aids, liability may be attributed to the entity responsible for maintaining those conditions, such as a marina or governmental agency.
Proving liability in a jet ski accident case can be complex and often requires a thorough investigation, witness testimonies, and expert analysis.
How to File a Damages Claim for a Jet Ski Accident
Filing a damages claim for a jet ski accident in California involves several crucial steps. You should consult with an attorney to ensure that you have the best chance of recovering compensation for your injuries and property damage.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
After the accident, seek medical attention for any injuries, no matter how minor they may seem. Document all medical treatment, prescriptions, and doctor’s reports. This documentation will be essential when filing your claim.
Notify Law Enforcement
Contact local law enforcement to report the accident. A police report can provide an official record of the incident.
Gather Information at the Scene
Collect as much information as possible at the accident scene. This includes the contact information of all parties involved, including witnesses, their insurance details, and jet ski registration information.
Consult with an Attorney
An attorney can help you understand your legal rights, assess the strength of your claim, and guide you through the process. They can also advise on dealing with insurance companies and responsible parties.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Consult with your attorney about how to report the accident to your own insurance company promptly.
Your attorney can help investigate the circumstances of the accident to determine liability.
Gather and organize all evidence related to your damages, including medical bills, repair estimates for damaged property, if applicable, lost wages, and any other expenses resulting from the accident. Your attorney can use this documentation to calculate the compensation to which you are entitled.
Negotiate with Insurance Companies
Your jet ski accident attorney can negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company to seek a fair settlement on your behalf.
Consider Filing a Lawsuit
If negotiations with the insurance company do not lead to a satisfactory settlement, your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit. It is important to speak with an attorney who has the willingness and experience to pursue your claim in court.
Have You Been Injured in a Jet Ski or Wave Runner Accident?
Filing a damages claim after a jet ski accident in California can be complex. The jet ski accident lawyers at the Weinberg Law Offices, P.C., can help you recover the damages you deserve.
We have extensive experience helping accident victims pursue fair compensation for everything they’ve been through, and look forward to meeting with you to discuss how we can help.
To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, give the Weinberg Law Offices, P.C., a call today. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.