In 2009, two sisters on vacation eagerly boarded a small 15-foot Key West skiff, hoping to enjoy a day of fun on the water with their friends. Gina was only 22-year-old at the time and Jamie was 19. Unfortunately, their day did not go as planned.
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While in the skiff was in an inlet, another boat, a 31-foot, 14,000 Boston Whaler suddenly came upon them and the two boats rammed into one another.
The impact caused the motor on the skiff to go into full speed and the steering to jam, resulting in the boat making extremely fast, full-power circles. Three of the other passengers were thrown overboard, however, the sister remained on board.
Rescue workers arrived minutes later but they had difficulty getting onto the skiff so that they could stop it. While they worked on slowing down the boat, they also assisted the three who fell off. One of the men had hit his head against the hull of the Whaler, fracturing his skull and knocking him unconscious. Sadly, in the time it took for rescue workers to reach them, he drowned. The other two passengers were pulled from the water and taken to the hospital for treatment of their injuries.
Meanwhile, another group of rescuers had finally managed to stop the skiff and found both of the sister on board, unconscious. Their injuries were so severe that they needed to be airlifted to the hospital.
Both of the women sustained serious physical trauma.
Gina sustained a concussion which caused her to stay in a coma for three days. Her pelvis was fractured in multiple places, requiring open reduction internal fixation during which doctors placed numerous screws, plates, and pins. In addition to this, her spleen literally ruptured into multiple pieces inside of her, resulting in the need for doctors to remove it immediately. She has been left with severe scarring and her doctors expect that due to her young age, she will likely need a hip replacement in the future and other revisions.
She also experiences anxiety, nightmares, and random flashbacks, leading doctors to diagnose her with PTSD.
Her sister, Jamie, was also comatose for several days due to a concussion. She was diagnosed with bilateral lung contusions, a collapsed lung, a fractured pelvis, several rib fractures, multiple shattered teeth, and nerve damage in her foot. As is this wasn’t enough, she also lost her sense of taste of smell and suffers from PTSD like her sister.
Both sisters required medical treatments that have cost them more than $100,000 each.
The sisters filed a lawsuit against the man who was operating the Whaler and his family’s boating company, alleging that he failed to keep a proper lookout.
In their complaint, they stated that based on the fact that the skiff was ahead of the Whaler and the general rules of boating, the skiff had the right of way and the Whaler should have passed behind them.
The defendant admitted that he hadn’t even seen the skiff until it was about 15-feet in front of them and was unable to avoid the collision.
The case went before a jury who determined that the defendant was indeed at fault and awarded Gina $5.6 million for her past and future medical expenses, as well as loss of enjoyment in life. Jamie was awarded $3.9 million for her pain and suffering and medical expenses.
This is not the first time that boating accident victims have filed a lawsuit and obtained compensation for their injuries. In fact, hundreds of vacationers are injured every year when they choose to go on a boating excursion.
In every personal injury lawsuit, there is a statute of limitations, which means that victims only have so long to file a complaint.
While many of our clients are hesitate to talk to us after an accident, it’s important to know that filing a lawsuit against the negligent party may be the only way for the victims and their loved ones to get compensation.
In fact, it’s not just these two sisters who likely had a case, the family members of the man who died may have the option to pursue a wrongful death case.
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