As warm weather and sunny days become more plentiful, more people will get out on their boats for leisure, relaxation and water sports. Whether it’s the ocean, lake or river, boating is a fun way to experience the outdoors. When your time on the water doesn’t go according to plan and an accident occurs, you may have many questions about who is liable for a boating accident and how injury claims work.
Common Boating Accidents
There are more than 147,000 boats registered with the US Coast Guard (USCG) in New Jersey. In the past several years, there have been more than a hundred people boating accidents in New Jersey each year with dozens injured and some fatalities. According to the USCG, there are several common types of boating accidents:
- Collisions with other recreational boats or watercraft
- Collisions with fixed objects like a dock or a bridge
- Falls on the boat or overboard
There could be several contributing factors to these accidents, such as the behavior and experience of the driver, other vessels, the boat’s maintenance or weather.
Filing a Lawsuit After a Boating Injury
Anyone injured in a boating accident may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit if the accident was caused by another person or entity. A personal injury lawsuit aims to compensate the injured victim for their losses caused by the accident such as medical bills and related expenses as well as lost income and financial compensation for the pain and suffering you endured. If your injuries are more severe, you may also seek compensation for the ongoing medical and rehabilitative treatment you may need as well future lost income and compensation for your reduced quality of life.
Lawsuits for boating accidents follow the same premise as any personal injury claim which generally require the injured victim (or ‘plaintiff’) prove that the defendant was negligent in their actions or lack thereof. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must show that the at-fault party was responsible for operating or keeping the boat safe and failed in that duty which thus caused your injuries.
Who Is Liable in a Boat Accident?
Similar to a motor vehicle, the driver is responsible for operating the vessel in a safe and responsible manner and the driver owes a “duty of care” to passengers. Operator inattention or inexperience, excessive speed, alcohol and improper lookout are primary reasons for boating accidents in which the boat driver could be at-fault due to negligence.
It’s possible that a defective boat, equipment or boat part caused the accident. Typically, this type of underlying cause is discovered during an investigation after the incident. Some boating accidents are caused by defective boats, engines, or boating equipment. In this scenario, the injured victim can file a lawsuit to hold the manufacturer liable for any damages.
If you were injured in a boating accident on a commercial vessel such as a party boat, whale watching, ferry or other situation in which you paid a price of admission to board the boat, you may also have grounds to file a lawsuit against the company who operates the vessel, the vessel owner and potentially the captain. There is a higher threshold for the duty of care required for commercial entities as well as maritime law that may come into play. It's in your best interest to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer to understand your options.
Boat Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, contact our attorneys for a free case evaluation. Even if you believe you can go through insurance for compensation, it can be challenging to receive a settlement that fairly covers your losses. An injury attorney represents your best interests and will work to maximize the compensation you receive for your damages.
When you call Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, we can help you get to the root cause of your injuries and help you determine who is responsible for your expenses. With experience in boating accidents involving defective parts, reckless drivers, and serious injuries, we work smarter and harder to turn your setback into a comeback. Call today for a free consultation.