Whether used for pleasure or commerce, boating poses a real threat for potential accidents. While most involve recreational ships, boating accidents may include cruise lines, workboats or other shipping vessels. In 2015 alone, the US Coast Guard counted 4,158 recreational boating accidents, including 626 deaths and approximately $42 million in property damage.
The three main types of boat groups are recreational, work and cruise, which is boats for private use, boats for company or government use, and boats for large groups of paying passengers.
Recreational boats may include sailboats, pontoon boats, ski boats, personal watercraft, kayaks, canoes, and even inflatable boats. Work vessels are more finite, including bulk carriers, container and cargo ships, LNG and LPG carriers, oil tankers, shuttle tankers, cable layers, fishing vessels and pilot vessels among others. Cruise vessels include a variety of sizes and styles of cruise ships used for paying customers.
Who is Responsible in a Boating Accident?
As with any accident, fault will be attributed the parties having significant impact on the accident at hand. No one, including the boat operator, is automatically at fault. A collision is often attributed to the operator. Operator inattention, inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol use are also commonly attributed to the operator. However, there can be cases such as with submerged obstacles or product defects to be considered. Depending upon the circumstances, beyond the operator, claims may be made against the manufacturing company, the rental company, or other passengers who acted in negligence.
When Do You Need an Attorney?
When you meet with an attorney, one of the first inquiries is which law will apply to your case: federal or state? Boating laws can be very complex, depending upon the type of boat and in what type of waterway the accident took place. For professional maritime workers, they may be covered under Admiralty Law or the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act. Some activities causing an accident may require a criminal defense attorney. If you are injured in a boating accident, contact a qualified personal injury attorney that understands the implications of maritime law.