Vermont summers are beautiful, but they are short. Boating on one of the state’s many navigable lakes, ponds, rivers, or streams, is one way to make the most of the season.

Unfortunately, a boating accident can ruin a day out, an entire summer, and in some cases, can impact the rest of a person’s life. If you have suffered injuries in an accident in a boat or personal watercraft, or a loved one has died of injuries related to an accident on the water, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney to help you get justice.

Safe Boating is the Law in Vermont

23 Vermont Statutes § 3305 requires anyone who operates a boat and was born after Jan. 1, 1974, to complete a course on boating safety and obtain a certificate of boating education. The operator must have that certificate available when boating and must show it to any enforcement officer who requests to see it.

Children under ten years of age may not operate boats in Vermont. Children aged 10-12 years may take the boating safety course and operate boats as long as any motor does not exceed six horsepower.

Everyone who operates a boat or who water-skis or rides personal watercraft in Vermont must do so safely (23 V.S.A. § 3311). They must not be under the influence of intoxicants. They must stay at least 200 feet away from the shore, a person in the water, and other vessels unless they travel less than five miles per hour and not generate awake.

Damages Depend on Personal Behavior

Failure to obey all boating laws and regulations can lead to harsh results because Vermont assesses damages on the theory of modified comparative negligence. That means that a person injured in an accident could not collect all of their damages if they were partially responsible. The court must reduce any eventual recovery by an amount that reflects their degree of responsibility. If an operator is not fully compliant with applicable laws, the operator will likely bear some responsibility for the accident.

For example, if two boats collide and one operator is drunk and the other is traveling over the speed limit, it will be up to a jury to decide which operator was most responsible for the collision. If they decide the operators were equally responsible, neither will collect damages from the other.

If the speeder was 40 percent responsible and the drunk was 60 percent responsible, the speeder may collect damages. However, the award will be 40 percent less than it otherwise would have been. A seasoned Burlington boat accident attorney knows how to present the facts of the case to minimize the amount of responsibility the client must bear so that more damages will be available.

Burlington Boat Accident Lawyers Will Stand Up for You

Boat accidents often cause serious injuries. Insurance companies will use all the tools they have to reduce any payment for their client’s negligence. Their tactics often include trying to get a victim to admit some responsibility or convincing a victim to give up their right to sue in return for a quick but inadequate settlement.

You need to get experienced help on your side to fight these maneuvers. An aggressive Burlington boat accident lawyer knows how to stand up to insurance companies and make them compensate you for all your losses. If necessary, your lawyer will file a lawsuit and take the case to court.

If someone has negligently caused a boat accident and suffered because of it, you deserve compensation. You have a limited time to sue after an accident, so it is critical to contact a Burlington boat accident lawyer right away. Your attorney will review your case and offer thoughtful advice about how to proceed. Call today!