Common Boating Accidents and Personal Liability Claims

According to the United States Coast Guard, over 4,000 boating accidents occured in 2017, resulting in nearly 3,000 injuries and over 600 deaths. Contrary to popular belief, most boating accidents are not caused by bad weather or dangerous conditions. Instead, accidents are most often caused by negligence on the part of the boat operator. With that in mind, here are tips on how to avoid the most common boating accidents, as well as their related personal liability claims. In addition, if you happen to be in New York, take an online New York boater safety course.

Alcohol use

United States Coast Guard reports show that alcohol use was the primary cause of fatal boating accidents, accounting for nearly half of all boating accidents. Since alcohol can significantly inhibit an individual’s ability to properly operate machinery, it’s best to avoid operating a boat while intoxicated.

Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol is a federal offense. Individuals found guilty of driving intoxicated are subject to a $1,000 fine and up to a $5,000 criminal penalty. Additionally, intoxicated operators can face a multitude of insurance-related problems and are subject to suit for personal liability claims.

The victim of an alcohol-related boating accident has the option of pursuing a claim on the basis of negligence per se. In other words, the victim must prove that the operator violated a state statute by operating a boat under the influence of alcohol. The victim must also prove the causation and damage elements of a negligence claim in order to fully recover.

Machinery failure

Faulty machinery is another common cause of boating accidents and can lead to serious injuries, especially when out in open water. Faulty machinery refers to defective parts such as driveshaft, boat fuel tank, etc., resulting from a manufacturing error or lack of proper maintenance. In order to ensure that all equipment is up-to-date and in working order, check what inspection services your local marine dealership has to offer. The inspection will let you know if you need a boat propeller replacement and other repairs to make your boat safer. If you are booking private boat tours, make sure that the tour company fully inspects the boats beforehand.

When an individual faces injury due to faulty machinery that has not been properly maintained, they can pursue a negligence action against the boat operator. Most state laws require that owners and operators of vehicles must inspect and keep their vehicle in proper working order. Therefore, victims of accidents caused by faulty machinery have the option of pursuing a claim on the basis of negligence per se.

Excessive speed

Excessive speeding can lead to a variety of accidents, including collision with another boat or a wave. In a collision between two boats, both boat operators are typically partly at fault. Since both operators acted negligently, injured passengers from both parties will have claims against both operators. If one of the operators was injured, they will only have a claim against the other operator if the injured party was less than 50 percent responsible for the accident. Excessive speeding can play a significant role in determining which operator was more responsible for the collision.

In a collision with a wave, injured passengers may be able to pursue a negligence claim against the boat operator. Boat operators are required to keep a proper lookout for anything potentially hazardous to their passengers under both state and federal boating laws. However, the operator’s liability is highly dependent on the circumstances.

Proper and careful boat operation should always be practiced in order to avoid boating accidents. Boating accidents caused by the boat operator’s negligence can lead to insurance-related problems, as the boat operator is responsible for compensating the injured party for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If your negligence was the cause of a boating accident, personal injury lawyers can help you decide which steps to take next.