James E. O'Connell, trial lawyer and partner at Berman & Simmons

Boating Collision Cases in Maine

During the summer season, many of us enjoy time out on Maine’s lakes, rivers and coastal waters. Boating and fishing enthusiasts live throughout Maine, and with the long-awaited arrival of warm weather, they are getting out on the water with family and friends as often as possible. And while our short and busy boating season certainly provides many enjoyable experiences, an unfortunate aspect of the activity is that serious boating accidents and collisions inevitably happen every year.

Boating Accidents May Cause Catastrophic Injuries or Death

Experienced boaters know that almost anything can happen on the water, including collisions on overcrowded waterways, groundings, unexpected bad weather, sinkings, fires, explosions, launching and docking mishaps, equipment failures, falls on board and overboard, altercations, lacerations, etc. These types of problems occur far too often, because of operator inexperience, alcohol, distraction, and general lack of knowledge about safety rules. And as with other motor vehicle accidents, the more serious incidents can involve catastrophic injuries or death. Injuries can have devastating impacts on people’s lives, causing physical and emotional trauma, severe and chronic pain, and permanent disability and disfigurement. Such injuries can result in the need for hospitalizations, surgeries, prolonged medical treatment, accumulating medical bills, and lost employment income.

Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, and Minimize Claims

When accidents are wrongly caused, and injuries and financial losses are suffered as a result, people find themselves reluctantly thrust into the confusing world of liability insurance and legal claims. Those with the misfortune of having experienced these understand the complexities and challenges that invariably confront seriously injured claimants. The reality of the modern, data driven, and profit-maximizing insurance industry is that the entire claims system is designed with corporate sophistication to deny, delay, and minimize all claims. Insurance corporations understand that by frustrating and confusing injury victims, they will discourage claims and, as a result, their businesses will become more profitable as claimants increasingly cave in and capitulate.

Injured Mainers Just Want to be Treated Fairly

Although we know most Mainers are not too comfortable with the legal system—not wanting to sue or be sued—lawyers and lawsuits are necessary for recovering fair compensation. Insurance adjustors often ignore and mislead claimants who do not have lawyers. Claims are typically not taken seriously until a skilled lawyer appears. In boating accident cases, the tactics of evasion utilized by insurance companies are particularly plentiful given the obscure and arcane “rules of the road” that have evolved and been enacted by mariners over the centuries. And while we all enjoy the recreational freedoms available in Maine, this freedom culture can be complicated in legal matters, given that neither boating licenses nor boat insurance are required in Maine. The lack of insurance requirements can necessitate creative and aggressive legal maneuvering to recover fair compensation.

Injured claimants do not want to take part in long, drawn-out processes. Most Mainers are not greedy and do not have unrealistic expectations of the legal system. But they want to be treated fairly and have their claims resolved efficiently. When medical bills are mounting, lost time from work is extending, and the collectors are calling, injury victims cannot afford to wait out unfair delays. Again, insurance companies and their lawyers know this and will use delaying tactics and high costs to their advantage.

The Importance of an Effective Boating Lawyer

A boating accident victim needs a lawyer who is experienced in handling boating cases; one who understands how to defeat these tactics of delay and denial; one who sees the entire course of a case before it even begins. Effective lawyers, like good sailors, anticipate the winds, currents, and angles. They know and can afford the right private investigators and maritime experts to serve as liability witnesses, when needed. In turn, they must know how to debunk and defeat the wide-ranging theories of opposing experts hired by the insurance company. To maximize case values, lawyers must also be able to understand and know how best to develop the medical and economic damage claims. And, perhaps most importantly, effective lawyers are those who are widely known and respected in the legal and insurance communities for their ability, determination, and financial wherewithal to do whatever is necessary to achieve success. Lawyers who have earned this reputation are often able to settle cases favorably, avoiding expensive and time-consuming court fights.

We Have the Expertise, Experience, and Resources

Through our extensive experience in handling a wide variety of accident cases, including boating accidents, we are honored to have earned our reputation as Maine’s most effective litigators and trial lawyers. We have the lawyers, professional support staff, and resources to utilize a wide variety of legal techniques to achieve success, whether it be by early and aggressive settlement negotiations, obtaining and executing on orders of attachment of defendants’ property and financial assets, complex multi-party mediations, or advanced jury trial skills.