Our firm has a long history of handling boat accident cases caused by irresponsible people at the helm, but not all boating accidents, injuries and deaths are the operators’ fault. Many times, a boat’s design, manufacture, maintenance or lack of proper warnings and instructions, are the real cause of tragedy on the water.
Because many boat manufacturers are large companies doing business throughout the United States or the world, the public is led to believe that boats certainly must be highly engineered, well-tested, products that undergo rigorous safety testing.
What the boating Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know
Unfortunately, this is usually not true. Boats are not subject to the performance and crash testing that we are accustomed to seeing regarding motor vehicles. There is no 5-star safety rating system for boats. In fact, there are virtually no mandatory performance safety standards for boats at all. Manufacturers often tout that impressive sounding organizations such as the United States Coast Guard, National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the American Boat and Yacht Counsel (ABYC), have endorsed their boat, but the truth is that none of these organizations test boats, and if any inspections actually occur at all during the manufacturing process the boats are typically inspected when they are not even in the water! The NMMA and the ABYC are captive industry organizations staffed and run by industry insiders whose purpose is to help their member organizations sell more boats.
As incredible as it may seem, the boating industry is largely self-regulated and subject only to voluntary performance standards for which they self-test and self-certify compliance, if they even test at all.
Additionally, boat design techniques typically lag decades or even generations behind motor vehicle design. Whereas cars and trucks are designed and even tested in electronic and digital domains, many boats are designed on the shop floor with carpenters rather than engineers and computer designers. It is common to create boat designs by physically cutting pieces from or adding pieces of existing boats and changing the dimensions or reassembling pieces into new a configuration.
Important Information for Public Passengers
So, what does all this mean for the public? For starters perception is not reality. Although the boat your friend invited you on last weekend has a placard that says the boat has a capacity of 12 people, there is better than a 90% chance that the boat has never been tested with even 5 people on board, and the stated 12-person capacity was simply calculated from a non-performance based formula regarding the likely ability of the boat to remain afloat while not moving in still water.
It also means that if a death or injury occurs the design and the evolution of the design of the boat must be thoroughly examined to determine if faulty engineering or manufacturing caused of the injury. Although Florida is ground zero for virtually all types of boating and water sports, there are very few law firms that focus on getting to the bottom of what really happened in a boating incident.
Determining the true cause requires real engineers and experts to evaluate all aspects of the design. Over the years, our investigations have uncovered a variety of design and manufacturing shortcomings from adding seating areas without ever considering the effect on performance of the weight of passengers sitting in designated seats to creating a design that allows a boat to turn so sharp that occupants seated in a specific area can be ejected, and everything in between.
The boating industry has been very slow to use on product warnings because labels just aren’t “sexy” and don’t sell boats. As a result, occupants are never advised of known hazards, let alone how to avoid them.
How We Can Help
If you were injured in a boating accident, or you suspect that a design issue may exist, do not wait to contact us at Clark Fountain. Our West Palm Beach boat accident attorneys are committed to holding negligent manufacturers, designers, and other industry “experts” accountable. Backed by more than a billion dollars in recoveries and over 220 years of combined legal experience, we are confident in our ability to help you recover maximum compensation after any type of boating-related accident.
Consultations are free until your case is successfully resolved. Call now: (561) 922-0258.