An Atlanta, Georgia area woman died recently after suffering fatal injuries following an accident on Lake Allatoona. The woman was a passenger on a water ski when the collision happened just north of Little River Marina reported the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. After the incident, she was taken to Northside Hospital, where she died. A man, who was driving the personal watercraft, was also taken to the hospital with serious injuries, but his condition was not provided.
While this incident is under investigation and no fault has been assigned, it is important to note that boats on the waterways of Georgia (such as Lake Lanier, Lake Allatoona, Sinclair Lake and many other man-made and natural waterways in Georgia) are subject to laws that are quite similar to the Rules of the Road that govern drivers on Georgia’s roads. In other words, when operating a watercraft, one must do so in a manner that complies with the laws of Georgia and in a generally safe manner.
My firm has litigated a number of serious boating accidents and many of the outcomes are not quite as clear cut as they may, at first blush, seem. The Department of Natural Resources is charged with enforcing the Georgia boating laws, and a lot of the basic laws (such as who has the right of way in certain situations and who must maintain a look out) are not the same as the Georgia Rules of the Road. This can lead to drastically different outcomes when litigating these cases vis-a-vis a normal car wreck case.
While establishing liability is different, the damages that flow from the negligence (once established) are the same as those in a car wreck case. Thes include both general and specific damages that should be proven by expert testimony, medical and employment records and testimony from witnesses who are familiar with the facts and damages in the particular situation. As always, each case is different and there are cases where very large damages flow from what might look like a fairly minor wreck and vice-versa. What is important, is to properly assess all damages and prove them in a way that makes sense to everyone involved (insurance adjuster for the other side, opposing counsel, the judge, they jury and any experts that are involved in the case that are going to opine on damages in the case).
Robert J. Fleming is a partner in the law firm of Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia and Decatur, Georgia. He is a personal injury attorney who has been handling wrongful death, dental malpractice, professional negligence, car accidents and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been severely injured or died as a result of negligence for over 25 years. He practices in the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb counties in Georgia and nearby cities such as Alpharetta, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you or a family member has been seriously injured and would like to discuss your case in complete confidence, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online. We are here to help.