Who is Liable for My Boating Accident?
In a previous blog post, we discussed the dangers associated with recreational boating, Florida’s consistently high rates of boating accidents, and ways to protect yourself when enjoying the open waters with some important safety tips. As our legal team at Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin is well aware, however, boating accidents can and do happen in Florida even when boaters and passengers take every step they can to be safe. That’s due largely to the fact that other parties, including other boaters around them, can cause serious accidents and injuries as a result of their negligence.
When it comes to boating accidents and liability, our legal team works diligently to conduct the necessary investigations that help our clients determine who can be held at fault for their damages, including their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, or the loss of their loved ones following fatal boating wrecks. Because we know holding the appropriate at-fault party liable is critical to a successful resolution and the justice and compensation victims deserve, we’ve provided a few examples of the parties that may be held liable in personal injury boating accident cases.
- Another boater – According to statistics from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), most boating accidents are caused by operator error. Like auto accidents involving driver negligence, boat operator negligence can take many forms, from operator inattention and boating under the influence to excessive speed and reckless operation. In cases where another boat operator is to blame, victims must be able to illustrate how they were negligence and that their negligence more likely than not resulted in their injuries if they are to have a successful claim.
- Your boat operator – Passengers on boats are often friends and family members who get to enjoy boating with the kindness of boat owners who invite them out for some time on the water. While it’s a kind gesture, taking passengers on board means boat operators have a legal obligation to keep them safe, and that they can be held liable for passenger injuries when they fail to take reasonable steps in doing so. This may take the form of injuries caused by operator error, as well as various forms of negligence that lead to injuries suffered on board or while in the water (such as when being towed on skis).
- Boat rental company – Because boats are expensive, the cost of ownership can be a major prohibiting factor to enjoying fishing, water sports, or simple recreation on the water, which is why there are many companies that rent motorized and non-motorized boats to consumers. By law, these companies have obligations when it comes to ensuring the vessels and any equipment they rent to consumers are safe for use, and may be held liable in cases where their failures to uphold this duty lead to preventable accidents, such as when a rental company fails to properly maintain boats or fix hazards they knew or should have known about.
- Manufacturers – Under product liability laws, manufacturers of boats and boating equipment can be held liable for products that are defectively designed, manufactured, or marketed. If a boating accident involved a defective product (such as a defectively designed boat, equipment failure or malfunction, or defective safety gear or equipment), injured victims may assert their right to financial compensation under product liability laws. Our firm has extensive experience handling cases involving unsafe and defective products, including one high-profile case involving a boat design defect that has garnered national attention and exposed serious shortcomings in boat industry regulations.
- Commercial companies – Any personal injury case involving a commercial company can be difficult, as these companies often attempt to escape liability in a number of ways, may argue or dispute claims filed by victims, and /or may have required passengers to sign liability waivers. As such, any boating accident involving a commercial business requires the attention of attorneys who can explore whether these companies may be liable, in part or entirely, for damages victims suffered as a result of their negligence or the conduct of their employees and boat operators. These companies may include boat manufacturers and rental companies, as well as manufacturers or retailers of boating equipment, commercial boating companies (charters, fishing boats that cater to consumers, etc.), and others that fail to uphold their legal obligations for keeping customers safe.
Boating accidents are always unique, and the party or parties who may be held liable for your injuries and damages will depend on the individual facts of your case. Our legal team at Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin understands the importance of personally handling cases and investigating issues of liability, and leverage decades of collective experience when fighting for seriously injured victims and families. Because we focus exclusively on fighting for the injured and the wronged in the civil justice system, we have the depth of experience needed to address issues of liability in all types of boating accident cases and to help our clients fight for the full and fair compensation they deserve.
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a boating accident and are unsure as to how liability may work in your potential case, our firm is available to personally review your situation and discuss your rights and options. Contact us today to learn how we can help!