heads up

This fairly perfunctory look at boating accidents is nonetheless a decent reminder of one’s potential responsibility.

Sailing is fun. Usually, when sailing, you never think about accidents or what to do after them. Well, even as you have fun on the water, it’s good to think about what you should do after a boating accident. Here is some information.

Some of the things that can lead to a boating accident include;

  • An operator driving the boat while drunk or inexperienced;
  • Lack of the right equipment for passenger safety, such as a coast guard approved life jackets;
  • Passengers behaving recklessly while on a boat;
  • Poor boat maintenance;
  • Severe weather; this can include failure to heed to severe weather warnings  or unexpected weather changes.

Although there are times when liability in a boating accident is hard to determine, there are ways to find out who is responsible. If you lose someone or suffer injuries and losses in a sailing accident, determining who is liable allows you to file a claim against them. You can sue to get compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and loss of income.

You are liable for a boating accident if you fail to act with reasonable care and cause the accident through negligent behavior.  

For example, boat operators can be responsible for an accident if they did not adhere to safety protocols or obey laws on the water resulting in an accident. A boat operator can also be sued for an accident if they did not maintain their boat, leading to a crash and passengers getting injured. A boat accident resulting from designer or manufacturing defects can also mean a manufacturer is liable for an accident under product liability law. A rental company could be liable for a boating accident if they rented out a poorly maintained boat that is not seaworthy.

As a passenger, you can be responsible for a sailing accident injury if your actions caused it. For example, causing an accident by distracting a boat operator can lead to a liability lawsuit. In an accident, your boat could hit another boat, a submerged item, or a wave. The type of sailing accident you experience can help you determine the negligent party.

For example, according to Rules of the Road, if a sailing boat collides with a motorboat, the latter is likely to be at fault.

If you drive a boat in a no-wake zone and cause a wake accident, you will be at fault for any injuries or losses resulting from it, due to breaking the safety rules of boating.

In case of a collision with a fixed object, you can only be found negligent based on the circumstances leading to the accident. Some things that can prove your negligence include driving the boat in a dense fog, at high speeds, or without area nautical charts. Such examples show you how the type of boating accident you cause or experience can determine liability.

You may wonder about laws that govern boating accidents and how they apply to you.

Well, in the US, federal statutes govern the use of pleasure crafts on United states waters. Some state laws govern the use of pleasure crafts in specific states. However, state laws cannot contradict federal laws.

Inland Navigation Rules (33 USCS § 2001) provide regulations on navigating boats in US inland waters and Canadian waters.

Some sections in these rules, such as this one, guide boat operators on maintaining safe speeds and avoiding collisions. Breaking any rules and regulations on boating can result in legal problems for the operator. These laws also give passengers or other drivers affected by a sailing accident a chance to determine liability and sue anyone at fault.

The legal issues from a boating accident can be hard to work on. If you require help proving another person is responsible for your loss or injuries after a boating accident, a lawyer can help. Boating accident cases are subject to maritime law, which means they are handled differently from state personal injury cases. Boating regulations also differ from state to state as explained above. 

A lawyer can help you understand any laws and regulations pertaining to your case and ensure you get compensated for any injuries or loss of property resulting from a boating accident.

Author: Brenda King