Over 5,000 boating accidents occur in the US each year, resulting in $62.5 million in damages. About 767 of these accidents result in deaths, with 3,191 causing injuries. If you recently sustained boat accident injuries, hire a lawyer.

A boat accident attorney can help you fight for compensation. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay for your losses out-of-pocket.

Not sure which boat accident lawyer to hire? Read on for the nine questions you should ask when vetting your options. 

1. What Are Your Credentials?

Research each lawyer’s credentials, including their:

  • Professional memberships
  • Education
  • Training
  • Certifications

Most states require lawyers to have a Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school. Confirm that the lawyer is licensed to practice in the state. You can check the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory as you begin your search.

Prioritize lawyers who remain up-to-date on legal developments. They’ll understand the current personal injury laws and procedures that can affect your case.

They should continue their legal education to maintain an active license. Confirm that they also have board certification in personal injury litigation.

Choose a boat wreck lawyer who is active in industry associations. These include the American Association for Justice and the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys. Their memberships can speak to their level of expertise.  

2. Are You Experienced With Boat Accident Cases?

There are now 1.35 billion lawyers in the US. Not every lawyer has experience with boat accident cases. To streamline your search, focus on looking for personal injury attorneys.

Determine how long each lawyer has specialized in personal injury law. Look for a lawyer who primarily pursues boat accident cases. How many lawsuits similar to yours have they handled in the past year?

If it was only one or two, continue your search. Prioritize finding a lawyer with extensive relevant experience.

Consider the details specific to your case. For example, did the other boat owner operate the vessel safely? About 74% of deaths on boats occur because an operator didn’t receive boating safety instructions.

Other common contributing factors include:

  • Operator inattention
  • Operator inexperience
  • Improper lookout
  • Excessive speed
  • Machinery failure

Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boat accidents. Look for a boat wreck lawyer who pursued similar cases to yours.

These lawyers will have up-to-date knowledge of the laws that could impact your case. They’ll know of similar, recent boat accident lawsuits they can reference.

Choosing an attorney with recent, relevant experience can give you peace of mind. You’ll feel more confident in their ability to strengthen your lawsuit. 

3. Do You Have Extensive Courtroom Experience?

Ask each lawyer how often their boat wreck lawsuits go to court versus settle out of court. Choose an attorney with extensive courtroom experience. 

You can’t anticipate how your case will proceed. Finding an attorney who is comfortable in a courtroom will cover your bases.

If the lawyer usually settles cases out of court, it’s possible they’re apprehensive about presenting the case to a judge. These lawyers may accept a lowball offer to avoid going to court. They won’t have your best interests in mind. 

4. What’s Your Success Rate?

Determine how many boating accident cases the lawyer has won and lost in the past year. Compare this to their overall track record.

Look for a boat accident lawyer with a strong success rate. These lawyers can increase the chances of a positive outcome for your case.

Discuss the specifics of their most recent wins. What strategy did they use? Ask what legal strategy they recommend for your case.

They shouldn’t use a cookie-cutter approach. Instead, they should adjust their tactics based on your case and goals. 

5. Who Will Work My Case?

The lawyer you first speak with may not handle your case. If they’re busy, they may pass it off to another attorney. 

Determine who will handle your case moving forward. Review their credentials and track record. Ask about their availability to make sure they won’t neglect your lawsuit.

6. How Much Will I Win?

The attorney shouldn’t estimate your winnings without reviewing the details of your case. They should consider:

  • Your board accident injuries
  • Damage to your boat or property
  • Your lost quality of life
  • Your pain and suffering as a result

An experienced attorney can give you an accurate estimate of how much your case is worth. However, they should not make a guarantee. 

7. Can You Provide References?

Request references from three local lawyers. Check online for additional client reviews.

Look for a lawyer who already has an established, glowing reputation in their field. These lawyers will work hard to maintain their reputation. They’ll fight with your best interests in mind every step of the way. 

Online, check for comments about the lawyer’s responsiveness. Did clients struggle to reach them for updates about their lawsuits? If so, remove these lawyers from your list. 

8. What Do You Need From Me?

Ask each lawyer what they need from you to pursue your case. They may request:

  • Medical records
  • Boat repair estimates/bills
  • Photos from the boating accident
  • The other party’s contact information

Determine if the lawyer has professional contacts that can benefit your lawsuit. For example, they may have a medical expert talk about your injuries. They could hire a private investigator to gather more evidence.

Your lawyer should instruct you not to speak to the other party’s insurance company. They won’t have your best interests in mind. They may even use something you say against you to hurt your case. 

9. How Much Will This Cost?

Consider each lawyer’s fee structure. Some lawyers work on a fixed rate or hourly rate. Most personal injury lawyers don’t request payment until after they win your lawsuit.

They’ll ask for a percentage of your winnings as payment. These lawyers have more motivation to fight and win your case. 

Hire the Best Boat Accident Attorney Today

Don’t make the mistake of hiring an inexperienced boat accident attorney. Instead, ask these questions when reviewing your options. Find an experienced, qualified lawyer who can strengthen and win your case. 

Our team at Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC has three decades of local experience. We’re committed to offering knowledgeable representation to every client. 

We’ll fight with your best interests in mind. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.