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Common Boating Accidents and who's Responsible - August 24th 2016

Boating is a fun and popular summer activity down at the shore, but if not done carefully, could lead to serious personal injury or even death. The U.S. Coast Guard cites boating accidents as the cause of over 4,000 serious injuries or deaths each year. As a result of that alarming number, thousands of boat-related insurance claims are filed. If you are injured in a boating accident, you must be able to prove that someone else’s negligence caused your accident and/or injuries in order to recover. The negligence standard essentially boils down to one question: “Did the person who caused the accident fail to act with reasonable care?” If the answer to that question is yes, and you were in fact injured, then you likely have a viable claim for damages. HWM is here to break down the common types of boating accidents and who can be held liable if you are injured in a boating accident.

Collision with another Boat or Watercraft

These types of accidents have been on the rise over the past few years, likely due to the increasing number of boats on the water. Attributing negligence (fault) will depend upon the facts surrounding each individual accident. There are, however, certain standards which apply to the waterways. For example, in an accident where a motorboat collides with a sailboat, the operator of the motorboat will likely be at fault because they are required to stay out of the way of motor-less vessels.

Collision with Land, Sandbars, Rocks, Buoys, or Submerged Objects

This is another type of accident that will depend upon the individual circumstances surrounding the accident. The operator of the vessel must take all available information into consideration, including the use of his senses, in order to act in a reasonable manner and avoid liability. For example, if the operator runs aground because he was speeding in low-visibility conditions, he will likely be at fault for injuries to his passengers. Be smart, be safe, and be courteous of other boats and objects.

Collision with a Wave or Another Boat’s Wake

The operator of a boat has a duty to drive a boat in a reasonable manner. That means avoid attacking waves or large wake in such a way that may cause injury to passengers. Similarly, boat operators have a duty to avoid creating wake that could cause damage to others. Federal and State boating laws and regulations frequently set speed limits in high-traffic waterways in order to reduce the potential damage cause by boats and their wake.

It is important to remember to stock your boat with the proper safety gear, such as a lifejacket for each passenger, life rings, navigational lights, flares, whistles, and fire extinguishers. The boat owner/operator can be held liable for damages resulting from a failure to maintain the proper safety equipment. It is always better to be safe than sorry. If you do find yourself in a boating accident and feel you need a lawyer, make sure to give HWM a call at (609) 407-1000 for a free consultation. Their attorneys will ensure that you know your rights and help you recover any damages that may be available under the law.


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