Boating Accidents

Holding Negligent Boat Operators Accountable

Boat accidents occur largely because people underestimate the dangers of watercraft as compared to cars. Other times many people simply do not understand the nautical “rules of the road” and safety laws. Boating education is crucial to limiting boat accidents. Unfortunately, many states like Florida and Indiana do not require any boating instruction or limit mandatory requirements to operators under a certain age. This places many people behind the wheel of a yacht, boat or helm without any knowledge of that vessel’s abilities and drawbacks or even what to do when another yacht, boat or personal watercraft is coming at them.

What are the rules and laws about boating?

Although the “rules of the road” may not apply since there are no roads, there are still regulations, laws, and guidelines that govern boating. Many times the minimal regulations in place are not enforced or simply not followed. If you have been involved in a boating accident you have many of the same rights as other accident victims. You can recover lost wages, loss of ability to earn money, medical bills, future medical costs, property damage losses, expenses not covered by insurance, and damages for pain, suffering and lost capacity for the enjoyment of life due to permanent injuries. In severe cases, individuals may also be entitled to recover for the emotional or psychological effects of their injuries. Additionally, if the injured individual is married, their spouse may also recover for the loss of support and consortium.

Given the nature of boating and the direct perils of the sea, boating injuries can be caused by many different reasons. You may think that since you were on the water, that you assumed all risks associated with the activity. This is not true. Common situations where a boat operator may be responsible for an injury include:

  • Operating while intoxicated
  • Hitting a big wave or wake at an unsafe speed or angle;
  • Ejections from the boat due to improper operation or deciding to navigate in heavy weather;
  • Contact with propellers;
  • Operating at a high speed;
  • Failing to keep a lookout while a guest is skiing or tubing;
  • Not knowing the navigational rules;
  • Collisions with other watercraft;
  • Defective boat repair and maintenance;
  • Impacting a fixed object, such as a navigational aid, pier or bridge; and,
  • Overcrowding & Overloading.

Depending on where your accident took place, the laws that apply to your case may change. State law only applies as far as the waters immediately off the coast; once in national or international waters other maritime laws may apply. It is important to have an experienced attorney to help you navigate the potentially complex issues involved in your case.

Our office is able to handle ordinary boating accidents whether they happen in lakes and streams or more complex Longshore Harbor Worker and Jones Act claims. Give us a call to set up a free consultation to discuss your situation.

727-793-7619