Boating is a great recreational activity, but unfortunately it does come with its share of risks. Each year, over 4,000 boating accidents occur as a result of collisions, submerged objects, and waves. According to the Coast Guard, there were over 4,291 recreational boating accidents in 2017. These resulted in 2,629 injuries, 658 deaths, and property damages valued at over $46 million. Accidental drowning, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries are frequently reported in these incidents. If you or a loved one have been involved in a boating accident, you’ll need to understand what qualifies as negligence in this unique type of personal injury case in order to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Boating accidents commonly occur as the result of a collision between two motorboats. In the majority of cases, the individuals operating the boats are each partially responsible for the accident. Because of this, injured parties are able to pursue damages against one or both of the boat operators. The exception to this are accidents that involve motor boats and sailboats. Safe boating procedures dictate that motorboats need to keep a safe distance away from sailboats. In the event of a collision, the operator of the motorboat typically bears more responsibility.
Accidents also occur frequently as a result of a boat encountering a large wake. This is often caused by another motorboat and can result in severe injuries to passengers. Determining negligence is a complicated process in these instances and there a few different factors that come into play. Boat traffic, visibility, the speed of the boat, and the size of the wake are all important for determining liability. Boat operators are responsible for the wellbeing of their passengers and must be constantly vigilant to avoid hazards, but there are situations where the accident was outside of the operator’s control. For example, if the operator took the time to properly warn passengers of an oncoming wake and they failed to take proper precautions, it’s unlikely that the operator would be responsible for the injury.
It’s important to note that if the boat operator responsible for your injury is uninsured, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to receive proper compensation. However, it’s still in your best interest to consult with a personal injury lawyer following a boating accident. A trained legal professional will improve negotiations with the negligent party’s insurance company and evaluate every possible avenue to pursue damages for your injury.