Boating accidents happen far more often than you may think. With the summer season in full bloom and holiday boat use in full swing it is important to exercise extreme caution. If you get injured or suffer property damage by a motorboat or sailboat, there are some things you should know about within your legal rights.
While significant injuries are often caused by negligent operators of boats, you must be able to prove who is at fault. Negligence is failing to act with reasonable care. You should consult with a lawyer if you have suffered damages so that fault can be properly determined.
Negligence can occur in many forms. Typically occurring in the majority of boating accidents such as:
- A boat colliding with a swimmer resulting in significant personal injury
- A boat hitting another boat
- Your boat hitting another boats wake
- Your boat hitting a wave
- Your boat hits a rock, land or other submerged object
Colliding with an innocent swimmer or another boat is very common. Often times the operator may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Like the “rules of the road” involving motor vehicles many offenses apply to the operation of boats, including operation while intoxicated. If you have sustained personal injury or property damage as a result of an intoxicated boat operator you have legal rights to be compensated for your damages.
Hitting another boats wake can be unavoidable. The jolt to the boat can throw passengers overboard or knock them around inside the boat. The operator’s liability will depend on circumstances like:
- The size of the wake
- The boat’s speed
- Whether the operator warned the crew of the approaching wake
- Whether the injured was on a motor boat or sailboat
- Boat traffic
Operators who created the wake may be at fault, especially if the accident occurred in a no wake zone or by creating a large wake in a heavily trafficked area.
Even the most experienced boater can hit a submerged object, rock or land. In poor visibility a boat can easily run aground. The operators’ liability will depend on the circumstances and their preparedness. If the operator uses charts or depth finders and is traveling cautiously and following area boating rules, they are unlikely to be found at fault. However, if an operator is traveling too fast, not following listed rules or without charts, they are most likely negligent and can be found at fault.
Boating requires caution – whether driving the boat or a passenger – it is important to seek legal information if you are involved in an accident. Insurance coverage may affect your claim or any restitution. If the person, who was deemed at fault, does not have boaters’ insurance and/or no assets they will not be able to pay you. Vehicle insurance does not cover boats and while many homeowners’ insurance may provide insurance coverage, not everyone has that type of insurance.
Since summer in New England is squeezed into three short months, boat owners should be diligent and learn the proper way to handle an aquatic vehicle. Many programs exist that explain proper procedures and precautions as well as the rules and regulations in Massachusetts.
John Tramontozzi at Tramontozzi Law Offices understands the stress and struggle of those dealing with boating accidents cause by negligence. As someone with boating experience and certification by the Coast Guard in Navigational training and the operation of boats, he understands your rights. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a boating accident and feel negligence was the cause, contact Tramontozzi Law Offices.