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Boating Accidents

We’re trial lawyers. Our core competency – above everything else – is trying cases to juries. And we specialize in beating giants.

Minneapolis Boating Accident Lawyer

Many Minnesota residents can choose to enjoy a day out on the water. However, these days can take a turn if someone acts negligently. When people go boating and don’t prioritize safety, they can cause serious collisions. While wrecks may not be on the boat occupants’ minds when they’re out on the water, there are still dangerous decisions that can lead to accidents and injuries. If you or a loved one has been harmed because of someone else’s negligence, then you can seek help from a Minneapolis boating accident lawyer from Madia Law LLC. We’ll represent your rights and fight for you to recover compensation for your injuries and damages.

Boating Accident Statistics and Injuries

Unfortunately, boating fatalities and accidents happen each year. During 2020, there were 16 boating fatalities and 90 non-fatal boating accidents. While there are more non-fatal accidents, it doesn’t mean that people weren’t severely hurt. Injuries sustained from a boating accident can have permanent consequences.

Head injuries, spinal cord injuries, burn injuries, broken bones, and severe lacerations are possible injuries that may take weeks or months to heal. While these are similar accidents to a car wreck, the water also causes other potential life-threatening dangers.

Hypothermia can be a concern if someone is in the water for too long and their body temperature drops. While this is less likely to occur in the warm summer months, the water can still be cold enough to lower someone’s body temperature.

At first, hypothermia can make you shiver or feel numb. As the core body temperature continues to drop, you lips can turn blue and your breathing can slow. Your consciousness could be affected. You may also feel warm at this stage. When the body temperature gets too low, eventually the heart will stop.

Another danger is drowning. In a collision, boat occupants can be thrown overboard. If someone cannot swim, doesn’t have a life jacket, or is too severely injured to stay afloat, they may not be able to tread water or swim to safety.

When our lawyers are fighting for you, we’ll assess the injuries you or your loved one sustained. The damages and losses of your injuries shouldn’t be left on you to handle alone. Your attorney will seek full and fair compensation for you.

What Causes Boating Wrecks?

As we look into the accident that harmed you, we’ll search for the cause of the collision. It’s possible one of the following common reasons are why your boating wreck happened:

  • Boating While Intoxicated. If the person operating the boat is over the legal limit, their judgment and reaction times may be severely slowed and are more likely to make a mistake. They can receive a BWI—which will have consequences like a DWI.
  • Speeding. When the person operating the watercraft is speeding in a no-wake zone, they risk losing control of their boat and can also collide with another boat, dock, or person. Minnesota law states that boats cannot go faster and create wake when they’re within 150 feet of the shoreline, dock, a swimmer, rafts, moored watercraft, or when they’re towing someone on skis or a float.
  • Inexperience. The person operating the boat may not have the experience necessary to do so. They may make a mistake that could cause a collision. This could also mean they don’t see the warning signs of danger: choppy waters, a sudden drop in temperature, and dark skies are all weather conditions where you shouldn’t be out on the water.
  • Distraction. Operators may not realize that they have to be attentive at all times. If the operator is looking at their phone, talking to others on the boat, or is doing something else that takes their eyes off the water, they could collide with another boat or run aground.
  • Mechanical Failure. If a part of the boat malfunctions, the person operating the boat may lose control and not be able to prevent an accident from occurring.

Whether the cause of the accident was a negligent boat operator or a defective part of the machinery, your Minneapolis boating accident lawyer will find out. Then, we can see how the responsible party acted reckless and how their actions caused your injuries. Let’s look at the outcomes that negligence can cause while using watercraft.

Types of Non-Fatal Boating Accidents

When negligence occurs, there are a number of accidents that can happen. In Minnesota, colliding with another watercraft was the most common non-fatal boating accident, with 26 incidents in 2020.

Other accidents include water sport mishaps, like when one uses water skis, wakeboards, or tubes. Additional accidents that can occur include fires and explosions, sinking or flooding, capsizing, falling overboard, being struck by the propeller, and colliding with a fixed object.

Non-fatal boating accidents are reported when there’s an injury beyond first aid, at least $2,000 in property damage, or there’s a total loss of the boat.

If you’re looking at a long recovery because of boating accident injuries, you need to have reliable boating accident lawyers on your side who will fight for you. Our lawyers understand how serious your injuries can be and how your life could be permanently affected because of them. We’ll look at all the evidence available that shows who was negligent, how they caused the accident, and how their actions harmed you. Then, we’ll show that your injuries have caused significant losses that will affect your future.

While it can be overwhelming to think of the path to recovery ahead of you, but you don’t have to do it alone. We’ll be at your side fighting for your economic and noneconomic losses. This includes your medical expenses, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, and distress.

We’ll seek the financial security you need so you can cover the costs without worrying about how you’ll make the payments. With this foundation, you can work on healing.

Get the Help You Need Today

Madia Law LLC protects people who have been injured because of the negligent actions of others. We’re aware of the life-threatening injuries that can arise from a boating accident, and how a reckless decision can change someone’s life in an instant.

You deserve representation that will protect your best interests. You can have this peace of mind when a Minneapolis boating accident lawyer is representing you. Contact our office today. 

THE MADIA LAW WAY

We have a process that works in getting exceptional results for our clients. 

We are trial lawyers who prepare every case for trial from Day 1. Investigation and legal research are the first things we do, and we spend a lot of time on them. Because we haven’t filed the case yet, we have complete control – the defendant has no say and we want to use this time wisely.  We interview witnesses that can help us prove the case.  We’ll ask you for all relevant documents in your possession and review those carefully as well.  We also will spend some time conducting legal research about unique issues in the case.  We pull the jury instructions that the judge will ultimately charge the jury with after closing arguments at trial. 

Our next step is typically to send a demand letter to the defendant. In the letter, we thoroughly lay out: the facts surrounding the defendant’s misconduct; the applicable law (including statutory and case citations) that make clear that the defendant broke the law; an analysis of your damages and the defendant’s monetary exposure; a demand for a monetary amount to settle the claim; and an instruction to preserve all relevant evidence, including electronic evidence. The point of this letter is to give the defendant a chance to do the right thing and pay a fair amount before litigation, and to give the defendant an opportunity to present any defenses or evidence it wants us to consider before moving forward.  Sometimes we skip the demand letter if there are strategic reasons to move straight to filing, but we typically give defendants a chance to do the right thing.

If early negotiations fail, great – we file a Complaint and serve the defendant with it. A Complaint is a legal document that states the facts of what happened and alleges how the defendant broke the law. It formally starts the lawsuit.  Many lawyers draft complaints in a general and relatively vague way, just to get it done and filed – because that’s all that’s really required.  We take a different view. We view the Complaint as our first chance to tell your story to the judge, and we take it seriously. So we draft detailed complaints and include legal citations to statutory and judicial authority on unique points.  Sometimes we’ll include a number of exhibits, diagrams, or other demonstrative aids to help the Court understand our claims.  A secondary benefit of this approach is that defense lawyers reading the Complaint can become educated on the problems of their case and the state of the law – sometimes this leads them to reach out to us shortly after service of the Complaint to re-initiate settlement negotiations.  Of course, by that time, the price for settlement has gone up.

Some lawyers view written discovery as a necessary evil – something to get done and out of the way before depositions.  Not us.  Written discovery is a gift and an opportunity.  We spend a great deal of time crafting requests for documents and interrogatories (questions for the defendant to answer in writing) that are specific, detailed, and tailored to get what we need to prove our case.  Many lawyers – even great ones – think written discovery is a waste of time because defense lawyers typically answer them on behalf of their clients and can try to stonewall with legalese and objections.  We view this as a wonderful opportunity.  In our experience, most defense lawyers can’t help themselves when answering discovery: they over-state their defenses and make assertions that their clients will not be able to support in testimony. So we get to commit the defendant to defenses that they can’t back up, leading to contradictions, confusion, and chaos in their depositions later on.  We also use Requests for Admission – which many lawyers don’t.  The Federal Rules and Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure allow us to ask defendants to “admit” certain facts.  We send them RFAs that are very difficult for them to deny.  Of course, they do it anyway, but that sets them up later for cost and fee-shifting, which the Rules mandate for defendants that deny RFAs that are later proven true.  And usually, we can get the defendants’ own witnesses to admit facts that their defense lawyers denied in RFA.  That’s a great situation that leads to more chaos and confusion on the defense side.

One last point on written discovery – we send multiple waves of it throughout discovery.  We typically send 3 or 4 sets of written discovery requests to defendants throughout discovery.  This compounds the problems for them, because the defense lawyers continue to overstate their defenses, but now run into contradictions from not just the defendant witnesses’ deposition testimony, but also their own previous discovery responses.  This makes for a great record that we can present to the judge at dispositive motions, and use for impeachment at trial.

This is our chance to question relevant witnesses, on the record with a court reporter (we typically videotape important depositions as well). We get to confront the defense witnesses with all of the evidence we’ve developed through written discovery and document production. By this time, the defendant put its witnesses in an impossible position through its written defenses, which are often untrue and indefensible.  So the witness has to either lie to support the defense, or admit it’s not true.  That’s a dilemma that works for our clients either way, no matter which option the witness takes.  We use depositions to expose contradictions, create a record for dispositive motions, lock witnesses into their stories so that we can impeach them later at trial, and sometimes, to show defense lawyers how hopeless their case is.  We often calls from defense counsel shortly after depositions of their clients, seeking to re-start settlement negotiations.

The defendant will usually make a motion for summary judgment after discovery, asking the Court to throw out the case without having a jury trial. Because we’ve hit discovery so hard – both through written discovery and depositions – this is a tough motion for defense counsel to write in our cases.  We draft our response for the Court and now get to bring everything together: the admissions, contradictions, nonsense, and obvious fact disputes that we’ve uncovered through discovery.  We tell a compelling story that wraps everything together for the Court and makes clear that the defense motion has to be denied, and the defendant needs to face a jury for its conduct.

Sometimes, we’ll even make an affirmative motion for summary judgment, asking the Court to grant judgment in favor of our client without a trial. These motions are generally rare for plaintiffs to make, because the defendant can usually point to some fact dispute on its intent or some other factor that necessitates a trial. But we make affirmative summary judgment motions significantly more than is typical for plaintiffs, and that’s because the work we put in during discovery helps build a fantastic record to do so.

After the Court denies the defense motion for summary judgment, the defendant has only 2 options: 1) do the right thing and pay you a fair amount to our client to settle your claim (usually much, much more at this point than the defendant could have paid at the beginning of the case to settle); or 2) face a jury for its conduct and risk an enormous verdict. This is the dilemma that we have been creating and forcing the defendant into for the entire case. We’ll engage in settlement negotiations at this point from a position of extreme strength, mainly because most defendants are (rightly) terrified of facing a jury to defend their conduct.

This is, candidly, our favorite part of the case – why we went to law school: to hold the powerful accountable before juries.  We prepare heavily for trial, including: detailed witness preparation, focus groups, and mock trials.  At this point, the potential outcomes and consequences for the defendant are much more severe than if it simply did the right thing at the beginning of the case and paid a fair amount to compensate our client for its misconduct.  As we advocate to the jury for our client, we’re also mindful of protecting the record so that defendants will be unsuccessful in attacking the verdict in post-trial motions or appeal.

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