California is renowned worldwide for its warm and sunny climate, as well as its beautiful beaches, lakes, and waterways. In fact, California boasts 5.3% of all registered marine vessels in the country, according to data from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). However, these numbers also mean that statistically, the likelihood of being involved in an accident is quite high.
One of the most popular vessels you’ll find in California is a jet ski. Although smaller than a traditional boat, these vehicles are designed for maximum speed and maneuverability on the water. Unfortunately, much like motorcycles on roadways, a jet ski can be difficult to control and offers little protection in the event of an accident. As a result, it’s important to understand what to do if you’re involved in a jet ski accident in California, and what your legal options are.
Experienced California Boat Accident Lawyers
No matter what the circumstances are, a jet ski accident can leave you and your family facing serious medical and financial strain.
At Maison Law, our skilled California boat accident lawyers have effectively represented numerous victims of boating-related injuries throughout our years of practice. Our experience can be a valuable asset if you need to pursue a claim following a jet ski or boating accident. Contact us today to set up a free consultation to learn more.
What Can Cause Jet Ski Accidents in California?
Just because you’re in the ocean or on a lake in California doesn’t mean you can avoid using a jet ski or other watercraft safely. In fact, much like land vehicles, a jet ski can be difficult to maneuver. Moreover, due to its smaller size, it can be difficult for those driving boats and other watercraft to see you on a jet ski. These factors, among others, frequently lead to accidents. Usually, these causes involve:
- Inexperience – Lack of experience and proper training in operating a jet ski can lead to accidents, as inexperienced operators may struggle to control the vehicle.
- Speeding – Operating a jet ski at excessive speeds can result in loss of control and collisions with other vessels, swimmers, or objects in the water.
- Reckless maneuvering – Engaging in risky maneuvers, sharp turns, or sudden stops can lead to accidents, especially in crowded or congested areas.
- Intoxication – Operating a jet ski under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs judgment and coordination, increasing the risk of accidents.
- Distractions – Texting, talking on the phone, or engaging in other distractions while riding a jet ski can result in collisions or loss of focus on surroundings.
- Collision with objects – Colliding with stationary objects like buoys, docks, rocks, or debris in the water can cause accidents.
- Failure to yield – Ignoring right-of-way rules and not yielding to other vessels can lead to collisions.
- Poor weather – Operating a jet ski in adverse weather conditions such as high waves, strong currents, or low visibility can increase the risk of accidents.
- Mechanical failures – Malfunctions in the jet ski’s systems, such as steering or propulsion, can lead to loss of control and accidents.
- Unfamiliar waters – Operating a jet ski in unfamiliar waters can lead to misjudgment of depth, underwater obstacles, or hazardous areas.
- Overloading – Carrying too many passengers or exceeding the recommended weight limit can affect the jet ski’s stability and lead to accidents.
Obviously, there are many different causes and factors relating to jet ski accidents. That’s why it’s very important to always practice the safe operation of these vehicles and to make sure that you take necessary safety precautions if you do decide to drive one. That said, accidents can–and often do–still happen, which can lead to serious injuries.
Common Injuries in California Jet Ski Accidents
While jet skis are designed to maneuver around waterways, they are ultimately like any other motor vehicle in terms of what can happen if you’re in an accident–namely, you and any passenger will be facing injuries. The type and extent of your injuries depend on the circumstances of your accident, but typically include:
- Drowning – Accidents involving ejection from the jet ski or collisions can lead to submersion in the water, potentially causing drowning or near-drowning incidents.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) – Collisions with other vessels, objects, or the water surface can result in head injuries, including concussions or more severe traumatic brain injuries.
- Spinal injuries – Impact during a collision can cause spinal cord injuries, leading to paralysis or other permanent disabilities.
- Broken bones – The force of impact or being thrown from the jet ski can result in broken bones, particularly in the arms, legs, and ribs.
- Lacerations – Contact with the jet ski’s edges, collisions with objects, or being dragged in the water can cause cuts, lacerations, and abrasions.
- Soft tissue injuries – Strains, sprains, and contusions can occur due to sudden movements during accidents.
- Internal damage – The impact of a collision or ejection can cause internal injuries to organs, such as the lungs, liver, or kidneys.
- Dismemberment or amputations – Severe accidents can result in limb injuries requiring amputation or causing dismemberment.
- Facial injuries – Collisions with the jet ski, water, or objects can lead to facial fractures, cuts, and bruises.
- Burns – Contact with hot engine parts or exhaust systems can cause burns.
- Hypothermia – Cold water can lead to hypothermia, especially if the accident causes the rider to stay in the water for an extended period.
- Emotional distress – Being involved in a jet ski accident can lead to psychological trauma and emotional distress.
- Neck and back injuries – Sudden movements during the accident can cause neck strain, whiplash, and back injuries.
- Eye injuries – Water splashes, debris, or objects can lead to eye injuries, ranging from minor irritations to more serious damage.
Like any accident that injures you or a loved one, it’s important to understand how the law works in California so that you can work on your recovery. Especially in a jet ski accident where you’ve been severely injured, getting the right help is important.
How Does the Law Approach Jet Ski Accidents in California?
Legally speaking, the law in California treats a jet ski accident the same way it would any other vehicle accident. At least in terms of your options, this is a good thing, as it allows you to pursue a claim against the person or party that’s responsible for causing the accident. While that can sometimes be challenging, ultimately a jet ski accident comes down to negligence.
As in other California vehicle accidents, there a generally four elements of negligence that establishes liability in a jet ski accident:
- Duty of Care – Jet ski operators must drive their watercraft safely to avoid harming others, property, or themselves.
- Breach of Duty – If a jet ski operator acts in a way that’s less safe than a responsible operator would, like speeding or using alcohol, they’ve breached their duty.
- Causation – In a California jet ski accident case, it has to be proven that the operator’s unsafe actions were a major reason for the accident and injuries. This means the injuries wouldn’t have happened if the operator had been more careful.
- Damages – “Damages” means the harm from the accident, like injuries, emotional trauma, and lost wages or income.
In a jet ski accident in California, you, as the injured party, would have to show that the jet ski operator was driving or operating the jet ski in a way that was dangerous, and that this caused the accident and harm. In order to fully establish liability and pursue your legal options, our experienced California boat accident lawyers can help.
Damages in California Jet Ski Accidents
Dealing with a jet ski accident in California can be incredibly frustrating. Injuries that need medical attention and other damage to you and your loved ones can have more than just financial effects – they can also impact you emotionally and mentally.
The good news is that California law lets you seek financial support for these damages. This can involve insurance claims or even a lawsuit, although the process might take time. But it can be worthwhile, helping you recover various kinds of damages:
- Medical costs – This covers all medical bills for treating your injuries, like hospital stays, surgeries, medicines, therapy, and follow-up appointments.
- Lost income – This pays for the money you couldn’t earn due to the accident, including time off work for recovery. If your injuries lead to long-term disability affecting your job, it might cover that too.
- Property damage – This deals with fixing or replacing your damaged jet ski or other property harmed in the accident.
- Pain and suffering – This covers both physical and emotional pain from the accident and injuries. It includes recovery pain, ongoing discomfort, and emotional stress like anxiety.
- Emotional distress – This covers psychological suffering caused by the accident’s trauma. It might involve anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other emotional struggles.
- Loss of enjoyment of life – This is for any reduction in your ability to enjoy life because of the accident’s impact on your activities and hobbies.
- Wrongful death damages – If a loved one dies due to a jet ski accident, their family might get compensation for funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and emotional suffering.
- Punitive damages – In some cases, when the operator’s actions were extremely reckless or intentional, the court might award additional damages to punish them.
Filing a claim after a jet ski accident isn’t always simple–it requires identifying the responsible parties. To make it easier, consider getting in touch with our skilled team of California boat accident lawyers. We have a proven history of handling these claims and can handle the day-to-day tasks for you.
California Jet Ski Accident Victims Can Count on Maison Law
If you’ve been injured in a California jet ski accident, you’ll likely need help getting back on your feet. With a history of successful outcomes and substantial support for our clients, Maison Law is here for you. You can count on the experience and skill of our California boat accident lawyers to help you navigate the legal system and get the help you need. Contact us today to set up your free consultation.