Legal Liability in Boat Accidents

Boating accidents do not happen as frequently as car crashes do but suffice to say, thousands can happen annually especially since there are approximately 12,692,892 boats are currently registered and a number of those can be found in California.

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has reported that as many as 4,789 boating accidents occurred in 2008. These boating accidents resulted to 709 fatalities, 3,331 injuries and as much as $54 million dollars worth of property damage.

Negligence and Injury Liability

Most of these accidents, as stated in the USCG’s 2008 report, are generally caused by negligence. The top 5 causes of boating accidents are as follows:

  • Careless or reckless operation of the boat
  • Lack of focus or attention on the part of the operator of the vessel
  • Failure to provide a proper lookout
  • Lack of experience on the part of the operator
  • Fault or error of the passenger or skier

Accidents Involving Alcohol

Alcohol is actually a huge factor in fatal boat accidents – it is involved in 17 percent of all boating accident fatalities. Failure to wear a life jacket is also the main reason why boating accident victims died.

Damages and Legal Liability

However, when a boating accident does occur, and you suffered injuries or worst, lost a loved one – what happens next? When the accident is caused by negligence or fault of the boat operator, he may be held liable for damages either through a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim.

Legal liability in boat accidents however, isn’t as easily determined as car crashes. While passengers or drivers may be considered negligent, depending on the circumstances of the case, what happens if the boating accident involved a commercial vessel like a cruise ship?

More Complicated Cases

In such instances, aside from holding the operator of the vessel liable, the company or cruise ship management may also be sued because of a boat accident. Injuries which occur on a commercial vessel whether it involves collision against an object or slip and fall, and even food poisoning can be the basis of a valid lawsuit as long as the fault was committed by the boat’s employees.

Bear in mind however, that filing a lawsuit against either the boat operator or the owner/management is far from just announcing your claim for compensation. You would need the legal assistance and services of an expert personal injury attorney.

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