The work of a Minneapolis boat accident lawyer can be highly varied. We deal with all kinds of cases, from disputes about minor property damage following a boating accident to wrongful death lawsuits in the event of a tragic loss of life on the water.
If you’ve been involved in a boating accident that was the fault of another party, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the losses you’ve suffered. Contacting a top-class boat accident attorney is the best way to determine your rights.
How We Can Help
As a Minneapolis boating accident lawyer, one of our attorneys can help you through every stage of the process that follows an incident on the water.
Firstly, we’ll advise you about your legal rights and options. We deal with the laws in this area every day, so we’ll be able to highlight the key issues in your case right away and discuss the likely outcomes of every potential course of action. Our attorneys always adopt a collaborative approach here; we’ll encourage you to take our recommended course of action, but we’ll never pressure you into doing something you’re uncomfortable with.
If we collectively decide to pursue legal action, our lawyers will start gathering evidence to support your case. This may involve interviewing witnesses, reviewing accident reports and medical records, and consulting with experts in various fields.
The next step is to try to negotiate a settlement with the other party or their insurance company. We use the information we collect during the evidence-gathering stage to show how the other party’s actions caused you physical, financial, and personal harm and build the outline of the case we’ll use in court if we get that far.
If the negotiation process cannot produce a compromise that works for both parties, we’ll take your case in front of a judge and jury. At Tyroler Leonard Injury Law, we’re renowned for our willingness to fight for our clients in the courtroom. Though settling out of court is preferable because it saves time and hassle, we’re never afraid to litigate if that’s what it takes to secure a fair settlement for our clients.
Remember, there are statutes of limitation when it comes to boat accident cases; these are essentially time limits for filing your claim. You have two years from the date of your boating accident to file suit in Minnesota and three years if you’re in Wisconsin.
Why Choose Us?
The attorneys at Tyroler Leonard Injury Law work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve following a boating accident. We have the necessary knowledge, experience, and dedication to help you navigate the complex legal process and emerge with a positive result.
Attorneys Isaac Tyroler and Rachel Sperling Leonard have devoted their careers to fighting for people who have suffered life-altering injuries in boating accidents and other such events. Isaac Tyroler began representing personal injury victims in 2011 and has been on the Super Lawyers Rising Star list since 2017 and was named a Minnesota Super Lawyer in 2023. Alongside his work in practice, Isaac previously served as the chair of the Minnesota Association of Justice’s legislative committee and is on the organization’s Board of Governors
Attorney Rachel Sperling Leonard also specializes in personal injury claims, including boating accident cases. She has been a Super Lawyers Rising Star since 2021. Specifically, if you are a Spanish speaker, Rachel would be happy to provide her services in your language; she spent a number of years as an undergraduate student in the Dominican Republic and believes passionately in the right of non-native English speakers to access justice through the American court system.
Isaac Tyroler and Rachel Sperling Leonard have secured over $30 million in compensation for clients.
Many of our former clients have been generous enough to share details of the positive experience they had while working with our firm. We have a 5-star average rating on Google, and the people we have represented have noted that we are diligent, compassionate, and dogged in our pursuit of positive results.
A crucial and distinctive aspect of our reputation is that we are always available for our clients to contact us. When you start working with one of our attorneys, you get their cell phone number, and you’re encouraged to use it whenever you have a question or concern.
We’re also known for successfully tackling complex personal injury claims and for our willingness to go to court to secure results for our clients. Other firms have even hired us to try cases on their behalf.
Some of our biggest victories for clients include:
- A $1.3 million settlement for a man who was severely injured in a Minnesota bicycle accident involving a van.
- A $1 million verdict for a woman left with a traumatic brain injury following a car accident.
- A $608,000 verdict for a woman who needed back surgery after a car accident. Before we went to trial, the insurance company offered a settlement of $26,000.
Boating in Minneapolis
A 2021 report from News8000 noted that Minnesotans own more boats per capita than residents of any other state in the nation, with just over 14,500 registered boats here for every 100,000 people. The same report put Wisconsin third on the list, with just under 10,500 registrations per 100,000 people there.
According to statistics from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, there were 18 fatal boating accidents in the state in 2021. There was also $7,240 worth of damage done to boats by accidents over the course of the year.
Though Minnesota’s rate of boat ownership is higher than the national average, its rate of fatal boating accidents is much lower. There were 2.3 deaths from boating accidents for every 100,000 registered boats in Minnesota in 2021; the national average number of deaths for the year was 5.5.
What Kind of Damages Can You Expect from A Minneapolis Boating Accident Lawsuit?
There are two main categories of damages into which any compensation you receive from a boating accident lawsuit will fall: general damages, also known as noneconomic damages, and special damages.
What Are General Damages?
General damages refer to the nonmonetary losses you have suffered, including pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. These damages are more difficult to quantify than special damages; putting a price on someone’s trauma is a highly subjective process.
Where there is a jury trial, it’s typically the jury’s job to decide on the number of general damages to award. Under instruction from the judge, jurors consider the severity of the injury, the impact on the plaintiff’s life, and the extent of pain and suffering suffered by the plaintiff in calculating noneconomic damages.
What Are Special Damages?
Special damages refer to the calculable monetary losses you have suffered as a result of your accident, such as medical bills, lost wages, and boat damage. The amounts of these damages are typically indicated by documentation such as receipts, bills, and other financial records.
What Are Punitive Damages?
General and special damages account for losses you have suffered as a plaintiff, however, in some cases, judges will allow for damages over and above these. They are called punitive damages, designed to punish the at-fault party for their egregious conduct and deter others from engaging in similar behavior in the future.
It’s important to note that judges usually reserve punitive damages for particularly serious cases. Section 549.20 of the Minnesota Statutes requires “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant showed “deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others” through their actions in order for punitive damages to be available.
Common Injuries That Arise from Minneapolis Boating Accidents
At Tyroler Leonard Injury Law, we’ve represented boating accident victims with a wide range of injuries and health conditions. Some of the most common issues you see as a Minneapolis boating accident attorney include:
- Traumatic brain injuries: These frequently occur following an impact to the head arising from a boating collision. Traumatic brain injuries range from mild concussions to severe, life-threatening injuries. In many cases, the brain damage resulting from boating accidents permanently limits victims’ quality of life.
- Spinal cord injuries: These can result from the impact of the accident or from being thrown overboard. The most serious spinal injuries can cause quadriplegia, a condition in which you cannot voluntarily move any part of your body below your neck.
- Broken bones and fractures.
- Cuts and lacerations.
- Drowning: The risk of drowning is particularly potent if a passenger falls overboard without a lifejacket.
- Burns: These can occur if there is a fire or explosion on the boat.
- Hypothermia: If you spend an extended period in cold water following a boating collision, you may be at risk of hypothermia. This can be life-threatening in more severe cases.
- Emotional distress: Boat accidents can be traumatic and may lead to long-term emotional issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Wrongful Death Lawsuits Arising from Minneapolis Boating Accidents
If your loved one lost their life in a boating accident that was the fault of another party, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages from that person. Expenses you may be entitled to include funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, lost income, and financial support.
Definitions of “wrongful death” vary somewhat from state to state. In Wisconsin, per Wis. Stat. Section 895.03, the relatives of a deceased person can sue for wrongful death in a situation where the victim of the alleged wrongdoing could have filed a personal injury claim, had they survived the incident. A similar rule exists in Minnesota under Section 573.02 of the state’s statute.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Minnesota, a wrongful death claim must be brought by a trustee. A trustee can be anyone suitable to serve as a trustee.
In Wisconsin, it’s important to note that not everyone is entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit; your eligibility depends on your relationship with the deceased person. If you were married to the deceased person at the time of their passing, or you are their child, you are generally automatically entitled to file a wrongful death suit.
Parents are entitled to file if the deceased person had no surviving children, while siblings can do so if there are no living parents or children.
If beneficiaries of the estate of a deceased person do not wish to pursue wrongful death litigation personally, a court-appointed trustee may do so on their behalf. Trustees may also be responsible for fairly distributing the proceeds of the lawsuit if it’s successful.
Also, there are statutes of limitations when it comes to wrongful death lawsuits. In Minnesota, as in Wisconsin, you must generally file your suit within three years of the date on which the boating accident victim died.
This is slightly different from the statute of limitations regarding ordinary personal injury cases involving boat accidents, as the clock starts to tick for those on the date of the accident. If your loved one is injured in a boating collision, but does not die until sometime afterward, the three-year period starts on the date of their death, not the date of their accident.
Remember, these are general rules, and individual case facts can sometimes present an exception to them. The only way to know for certain what restrictions and requirements will apply in your case is to speak with an expert boating accident lawyer.
The Different Types of Boating Accidents in Minneapolis
There are many potential causes of boating accidents. However, we generally use two broad categories to define these accidents.
Not all boating accidents involve a collision between two vessels. Single boats can get into accidents in a number of ways, including:
- Mechanical failure: Boats, like all machines, can be vulnerable to malfunctions or breakdowns that can cause accidents. For example, engine failure can cause a boat to lose power, get stranded, or drift into danger.
- Weather conditions: Rough waters, intense winds, and other adverse weather conditions can make it difficult to safely operate a boat and increase the risk of capsizing and other issues.
- Unseen hazards: Things like rocks under the surface of the water can cause major structural damage to boats if they go unnoticed. This is a particular risk if visibility is poor or if the boat is traveling very quickly.
- Operator error: This can include things like driving too fast, making sharp turns, or failing to properly navigate around hazards such as rocks or other obstacles in the water. These can cause a boat to capsize, throwing passengers overboard or causing them injuries by moving them around sharply within the boat.
- Passengers falling overboard: Boat passengers can suffer severe injuries if they fall out of the vessel, even if it’s not traveling at speed at the time. In some cases, for instance, people slip and fall while boats are docking, hitting their heads on the boat or the docking area and falling unconscious. Situations like these are particularly dangerous as the individual is at much greater risk of drowning while unconscious in the water.
It’s important to note that single-boat accidents may present liability issues and create the potential for legal action. For example, if the accident was caused by a mechanical failure, the retailer or manufacturer of the vessel could be held liable. Similarly, if the operator’s negligence or recklessness caused the accident, they may be held responsible for any injuries or damages that result to other passengers.
Accidents Involving Multiple Boats
Multiple-boat accidents can also arise in a variety of ways. Some of the cases of this type that we handle typically involve:
- Communication failure: Boats may collide if their operators fail to communicate properly with each other, such as by failing to use signals or radios to indicate their intentions.
- Mechanical failure: As with single-boat accidents, mechanical failures can also cause accidents involving multiple boats. For example, if a boat loses steering or power, it may drift into the path of other vessels.
- Operator error: Boat drivers traveling too quickly or failing to yield for other boats are common reasons for collisions involving multiple vessels.
- Weather conditions: Adverse weather conditions, like fog, snow, and heavy rain, make it difficult to see other boats on the water, increasing the risk of multiple-boat accidents.
What Happens If the Defendant Was Drunk at The Time of The Accident?
In the state of Minnesota, boating while intoxicated (BWI) is a criminal offense. The rules in this area are similar to those that govern driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Operating a boat with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level higher than 0.08% is an offense in Minnesota. It is possible for the driver of a boat to be convicted of a BWI offense with a lower level of blood alcohol concentration than this if there is evidence that they’re too inebriated to operate the vessel competently. However, where a driver is over 0.08%, no more evidence of intoxication is required for a BWI conviction.
So, how does this affect your Minneapolis boat accident lawsuit?
Ordinarily, you must prove the defendant in a boating accident lawsuit was negligent in some way, such as by failing to pay sufficient attention to their surroundings. However, because it’s illegal to use a boat while drunk, proof of intoxication is enough to establish negligence on the defendant’s part, thanks to a rule called “negligence per se.” Additionally, proof that a defendant was over the limit will increase your chances of securing punitive damages in a boating accident lawsuit.
Overall, if the defendant is shown to have been drunk at the time of the boat accident, it will greatly strengthen your case.
Can I Still Recover Damages If I Was Partially at Fault for The Accident?
It is possible to recover a certain amount of damages even if you contributed to the accident along with the defendant.
Both Wisconsin and Minnesota follow a modified comparative negligence rule for determining damages in personal injury cases. In Minnesota, a plaintiff is potentially entitled to damages as long as they are less than 50% responsible for an accident.
If you are partially at fault, you will be able to recover a percentage of overall damages that is consistent with your level of contribution to what happened. So, if a court decided that you were 30% at fault for a boat accident with overall damages of $100,000, your damages award would be reduced by 30% to $70,000.
As you can imagine, determining fault in a boat accident case can be highly complex, particularly where multiple parties are potentially at fault. Courts must take multiple factors into account when deciding on the degree of fault each party to a boat accident should have to accept, and can use various methods to make their calculations.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We will always answer your questions before moving forward, and some of the most common questions people ask us include:
How long does it take to resolve a boat accident lawsuit in Minneapolis?
This depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the amount of damages being sought, and whether the case goes to trial. Roughly speaking, however, it can take anything from several months to several years to resolve cases like these.
What is the likelihood of winning a boat accident lawsuit in Minneapolis?
Several factors will affect your likelihood of succeeding in a boat accident lawsuit in Minneapolis. The strength of your case, the availability of reliable evidence, and the skill of your attorney (as well as the defendant’s attorney) can all impact your chances of a favorable outcome.
How much does it cost to hire an attorney for a boat accident lawsuit in Minneapolis?
Tyroler Leonard Injury Law operates on a no-win, no-fee basis when we work on boating accident claims. We take payment as a percentage of your settlement.
What if the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance or can’t pay for the damages?
Should this situation arise, you may still be able to recover compensation through your own insurance policy if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
We hope that these answers help you to better understand boat accident cases in Minneapolis. We recognize that this list is not comprehensive, and you probably have a lot more questions.
Hiring the Minneapolis Boat Accident Lawyer Who Will Fight for Your Rights
Regardless of how severe a boating accident is, it’s never fair for the responsible party to escape financial liability for the damage they’ve caused. Hiring an expert boat accident lawyer is the only way to ensure you get the compensation you’re entitled to following an incident on the water.