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Recreational Boat Accidents

North Carolina beach
Getting an attorney involved early is vital to protect key evidence and help you receive maximum compensation.

North Carolina Recreational Boat Accident Attorneys

The picturesque waters of North Carolina promise relaxation and recreation, but for those who have faced the trauma of a boating accident, these waters can become a haunting reminder of pain and loss. Beyond the immediate physical and emotional wounds, accident victims can grapple with several challenges — mounting medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, and lost wages. The calmness of the water is replaced with an undercurrent of anxiety and the question, “How will I manage?” But amidst this turbulence, there is help. Engaging a seasoned North Carolina boat accident lawyer is not merely about legal counsel; it is about partnering with someone who understands the depth of your distress and can steer you toward rightful compensation.

What is the Difference Between a Boating Accident and a Maritime Accident?

If you were in a boating accident, the rules surrounding what happens next may be different depending on the location of the accident. Lakes and rivers inside the state bounds of North Carolina, such as Lake Gaston, Lake Norman, and Lake Wylie, will fall under state purview. That is, they are under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina Marine Patrol. However, it becomes maritime law when the accident occurs past the three-mile mark, as anything inside those three miles is considered “water of the state.” Anything beyond is not.

For example, the coastal areas of the Outer Banks are monitored by the Marine Patrol for the first three miles out. Beyond that, maritime law applies and, in most instances, supersedes state jurisdiction when it comes to your personal injury claim.

The two locations have different requirements when it comes to making accident claims, including the assessment of damages and negligence. Maritime law is complex, and it will be essential to have an experienced North Carolina maritime attorney on your side to help you sort through it all and meet the requirements.

Montagna Maritime handles both types of accidents. Should you find out that the geographical location of your boating accident extends past the three-mile mark for North Carolina, our maritime lawyers can help.

Types of Boating Accidents in North Carolina

There are several different types of water vessels out on North Carolina waters, and boating accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. For example, you may be enjoying a vacation trying to spot dolphins in the ocean or be involved in a fishing accident. Regardless of the situation, the boat operator has a duty to act with reasonable care while on the water. If you were injured because they failed to do so, you could have a claim.

Types of Boat Accidents

There are different types of boats utilizing North Carolina’s lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. Here are some of the most common types that are often involved in accidents.

  • Sailboat
  • Fishing Vessel
  • Pontoon
  • Parasailing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Jet Skis

Types of Accidents

Boats are moving craft and, as such, risk accidents resulting in serious injuries. Some of the most common accident types include the following.

  • Boats colliding with other boats
  • Boats colliding with a fixed object or person
  • Boats running aground
  • Boats experiencing maintenance issues

These water accidents can occur for various reasons, and all factors will need to be investigated to build a personal injury claim.

What Are the Main Causes of Boating Accidents in North Carolina?

Sailboat sinking into the ocean

Most boating accidents occur due to an error by the operator of the vessel. More specifically, the main causes are as follows.


Operating a boat while also under the influence of drugs or alcohol results in impaired driving and can result in tragic accidents.


Speeding is considered reckless and is another cause of accidents. Whether the boat is being driven at a safe speed depends upon several circumstances, such as traffic density, visibility, currents, wind conditions, and more. The failure to heed cautionary weather conditions or other warnings puts boaters, swimmers, and skiers at risk and the speeding operators potentially liable for an accident.

Maintenance issues

Poor maintenance issues involving various parts of a watercraft, such as the motor, steering, hull, and bilge pump, can lead to accidents.


Weather conditions, including high winds, fog, and rain, can lead to accidents on the water. Operators failing to heed small craft advisories can find themselves in tragic situations.

Waves or Wake

The wake of another boat, if not recognized and paid attention to, can cause an accident. The more forceful it is, the higher the risk that it can overturn other boats. You may be in a no-wake zone, and it can still occur if a boat operator fails to heed the sign. Waves can also throw a boat off balance, leading to accidents.

Types of Recreational Boat Accidents That Montagna Maritime Handles

Recreational boating continues to grow in popularity, bringing more and more watercraft and enthusiasts to North Carolina waters every year. As a result, you are at a higher risk of being involved in a maritime boating accident. Montagna Maritime understands both the joy of being out on the water and the risks involved. As such, we represent clients injured in accidents involving:

  • Jet skis (personal watercraft)
  • Sightseeing boats
  • Bass fishing boat competitions
  • Charter boats
  • Kayaks

If you experience an accident while operating or riding on any of these types of watercraft, seek the legal advice and a free case evaluation from a North Carolina boating accident attorney with Montagna Maritime.

What to Do After a Boating Accident in North Carolina

Boating accidents can happen anywhere, from Asheville to Raleigh to Wilmington and beyond here in North Carolina. After one, you will need to follow these steps.

Render Aid

Whether you are involved in the accident or not, North Carolina boating laws require that you render aid. This aid may be to move the victim out of harm’s way, save them from drowning, or stay with them until help arrives.

Make a Written Report

Complete a written accident report when any of the following occur:

  • The accident results in a death or a person’s disappearance,
  • A victim requires more than basic first aid
  • Property damage exceeds $2,000.

Even if none of these apply to your accident, you still need to file a report within ten days. This written report will also serve as evidence in your personal injury claim.

Contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

If fatalities occur or a person is missing, you must get in touch with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission within the 48 hours following the accident.
You can also seek the legal advice and guidance of an experienced North Carolina maritime lawyer at any time to help you take all the necessary steps required by law.

How Long Does an NC Resident Have to File a Claim for a Boating Accident?

Following a boating accident, it is imperative that you know how long you have as a North Carolina resident to file a claim. You only have three years from the date of the boating accident to do so. Failing to adhere to this deadline can mean you give up any rights to compensation relating to that accident, which can bring on financial hardship as well as mental or emotional challenges.

What Compensation Can I Seek After a North Carolina Boating Accident?

You may be able to recover damages following a boating accident in North Carolina. However, if you are found to be any part at fault, you may not see any compensation due to North Carolina’s pure contributory negligence laws.

Under these laws, if you, as the injured victim, are liable for any part of the accident, you cannot recover damages. If you are not in any way at fault, your personal injury lawyer may be able to obtain the following.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are those in which a monetary value is difficult to assign. These include pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Economic Damages

Economic damages involve those that can easily be assigned a monetary value and include medical expenses, loss of income, and medical equipment and home alteration costs.

What is the BWI Law in North Carolina?

Operating a watercraft while also under the influence of drugs or alcohol (boating while intoxicated or BWI) is a serious offense that can cause severe boating accident injuries. It is also against North Carolina law.

An important thing to note is that a police boat is allowed to stop your boat and board at any time and does not need your consent to do so. However, a BWI does not mean you have to consent to a blood test or breathalyzer. They must have a search warrant to compel you to do so. Being found guilty of a BWI does carry a misdemeanor and, depending on other circumstances, may carry criminal offenses.

What Are Some of the Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer for a Boating Accident?

Lawyer speaking to a client

When you are involved in a boating accident, it may leave you feeling uncertain about your next steps and trying to figure out how it will be different than an accident on land. Hiring a North Carolina boating accident lawyer to help you wade through all the requirements and file an injury claim can be your best option.

Our lawyers have solid experience with boating accident cases and will research who was at fault and the different people who need to be held accountable for their actions. Examples of these could include the boat owner, the maintenance crew who performed service, or the manufacturer of the life jacket or other flotation device, should that have been the reason for injury.

From there, we will calculate both economic and non-economic damages to seek in your case. Depending on the boating accident’s location, our attorneys will know the next steps to take for both state-jurisdiction accidents and those that fall under federal maritime law. We will work with the insurance companies and, if required, represent your case at trial. If you lost a loved one in the accident, filing a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf may be necessary.

Looking for a Lifeline in the Wake of Your Boating Accident?

Enjoying time out on the waterways of North Carolina, whether taking a ride, fishing, or even water skiing, can be cut short when a boating accident occurs. If you or a loved one is in one of these boating accidents and looking for a lifeline, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys with the law firm of Montagna Maritime. Call (877) 622-8100  today or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Award-Winning Maritime Law Firm

  • American Institute of Personal injury attorneys 10 best law firm award
  • NAOPIA Top 10 Attorney 2022 award
  • American Association of Attorney advocates Top 10 Award
  • The National Trial Lawyer Top 100
  • top 10 personal injury attorney award from Attorney and practice magazines
  • 10 best attorneys client satisfaction
  • Lawyers of distinction 2022