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Georgia does not require watercraft owners to purchase insurance. However, failure to do so could leave you paying out-of-pocket for medical treatment, vessel damages, and more if you are involved in an accident. An attorney can tell you more about your options in addition to this plain talk, basic explanation of personal watercraft (PWC) Insurance Policies.
Options for Personal Watercraft Insurance
You must register your PWC or boat with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), but operators are not legally required to insure their vessels. However, if you do not have PWC insurance, you may have no options for recovering your losses if you suffer injuries or your boat sustains damages in a crash. Additionally, if you are uninsured and liable for an accident, you leave yourself open to a lawsuit.
The following is a basic explanation of PWC insurance policies you can purchase to protect yourself and your property:
- Liability insurance. Liability insurance protects you if you are at fault for an accident. A basic policy may include $25,000 in bodily injury liability for injuries or death to one party, $50,000 for injuries or death per accident, and $25,000 in property damage liability. If you are legally responsible for a collision, liability will pay for the other party’s losses up to your policy limits. Liability insurance does not cover injuries to you, your passengers, or your watercraft.
- Medical payments (“med pay”). This insurance pays for medical treatment if you or your passengers suffer injuries in a watercraft accident, whether the accident is your fault, someone else’s fault, or no one’s fault. Med pay will also pay for injuries you sustain operating another party’s boat or as a passenger on another vessel. Medical payments supplement your health insurance and pay dollar-for-dollar benefits up to your policy limits – there are no deductibles or copays.
- Uninsured/underinsured boater (UM/UIM) insurance. You can purchase UM/UIM bodily injury or property damage coverage to protect you against accidents caused by a boater who does not have insurance or does not have sufficient coverage to pay for your losses. UM/UIM also pays for hit-and-run accidents.
- Collision insurance. This coverage pays for damages to your watercraft, regardless of who or what caused the accident. Remember that liability insurance only pays for the other party’s damages, so if you are at fault for a crash, collision coverage is the only insurance that will pay for your vessel.
- Comprehensive insurance. This policy covers damages to your watercraft or trailer not caused by a collision. So, for example, comprehensive insurance pays for losses related to storms, fires, flooding, hail, vandalism, and theft.
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How Long Do You Have to File a PWC Insurance Claim in Georgia?
Most insurance policies do not include a hard deadline for filing a claim but usually state that you should do so promptly. In general, it is a good idea to contact your insurance provider as soon as you are able. The same is true for filing a claim against a liable party.
Even if all parties have insurance and you feel confident you will resolve your case with a settlement, you do not want to wait so long that you do not have the option of taking legal action. Per O.C.G.A § 9-3-33, you have two years to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia. The court will likely refuse your case if you do not meet the deadline.
Recoverable Boat Accident Damages
You have the right to compensation from your insurer for your covered losses. You also have the right to seek damages from an at-fault party with a claim against their liability insurance or a personal injury lawsuit. A lawyer with our firm can help you pursue the following:
- Current and future medical expenses, including emergency transportation and treatment, surgeries, hospitalizations, prescription drugs, mobility aids, medical devices, and long-term care services
- Lost income, including wages, benefits, and earnings, and loss of your future earning capacity
- Watercraft damage, including the cost of repairs or your boat’s fair market value if the damage constitutes a total loss
- Pain and suffering, including awards for severe and chronic pain, emotional distress, mental anguish, scarring, disfigurement, loss of mobility, and reduced quality of life
- Wrongful death of a loved one, including medical bills, lost wages and future income, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of your loved one’s counsel, companionship, care, and advice
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If you suffered injuries or sustained vessel damages in a watercraft accident in Georgia, you can recover your damages. A lawyer with our firm can review your insurance policies, pursue a claim, and negotiate for an appropriate settlement.
If another party caused the collision due to their negligent, reckless, or wrongful behavior, we can fight to hold them financially responsible. Contact us today and learn more with a risk-free, no-cost consultation.