WHO IS LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE IN FOR BOATING ACCIDENT INJURIES?
Unlike driving a car or truck on marked roads with signs, traffic signals, and clear rules of the road, watercraft operators are faced with a whole host of issues unique to boating. While the freedom that the open water provides is part of the allure of boating, it can also make it more dangerous. Waves and currents can be unpredictable, sudden shifts in the weather can make visibility difficult, and the spaciousness can make it difficult to determine rights of way. Combine those factors with the inherent difficulty of stopping or turning a boat quickly, and accidents can seem almost inevitable. Some accidents may be unavoidable, but more often than not boating accidents are caused by operator negligence or a defect in the vessel or its equipment.
According to the Coast Guard’s 2017 annual boating accident statistics report, the top five primary accident types were:
MOST COMMON TYPES OF BOATING ACCIDENTS
- Collision With Recreational Vessel – 1145 accidents and 721 injuries
- Collision With Fixed Object – 470 accidents and 327 injuries
- Flooding/Swamping – 435 accidents and 132 injuries
- Grounding – 368 accidents and 224 injuries
- Falling Overboard – 306 accidents and 126 injuries
Not surprisingly, these statistics indicate that operator negligence accounts for 60% of reported boating accidents with the top contributing factors being operator inexperience or inattention, improper lookout, alcohol use, and machine failure.
RHODE ISLAND BOATING ACCIDENTS: MOST COMMON SCENARIOS
- Being on a boat involved in a collision caused by another boat, ferry, or personal watercraft.
- Being the passenger on a boat operated by a person, who failed to obey local navigation rules, or was intoxicated, or failed to act with reasonable care under the circumstances of the situation.
- A defective product due to a production defect or a safety design defect. Additionally, the boat manufacture may be liable for failure to warn of unknown dangers to the driver and / or passenger during the operation of the boat.
- A trusted service company failed to perform maintenance on the boat, which led to equipment failure and a resulting accident.
To recover damages in a boating accident claim a plaintiff will need to prove several elements. First, that the negligent party owed the injured party a duty of care. Second, that they breached that duty of care. Third, that an accident occurred as a result of the breach and that the injuries resulted from the accident. These elements must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence; which means by at least 51%.
Generally, a claim for damages for your injuries will be made to the negligent party’s insurance provider. Insurance companies are concerned with their own bottom line and will attempt to delay your claim, downplay the seriousness of the accident and your injuries, turn the blame to you, or deny the claim entirely.