There is no doubt that boating can be a fun activity, but unfortunately, boat accidents aren’t uncommon. Many people have been injured on a pleasure boat and need to know their options for pursuing compensation under the law.

General Rule of Negligence

If you sustain injuries on a sailboat or motorboat due to someone else’s negligence, you have the “burden of proof”. This means the courts will require you to prove that the negligence of someone else caused your injuries.

If you cannot prove this, then you will not be eligible for compensation. When a person gets hurt, it doesn’t automatically mean it was caused by negligence. A general definition of negligence is, “a failure to act with a reasonable amount of care”.

Proving Negligence

To prove negligence, a victim must prove that their injuries were caused because another person failed to act with reasonable care. It is important to remember that negligence is a complicated legal term and proving negligence can be difficult. If you have been injured in a boating accident due to another person’s actions, it is in your best interest to consult with a personal injury lawyer.

Negligence Claims

There are many types of boating accidents. However, the most common involve collision. Most accidents take place during recreational use and can occur when the boat hits a wave, land, submerged rocks, another boat or wake from another boat.

Collisions with Other Boats

Determining fault in a boating accident can be complicated. In many situations, more than two parties are at fault. It is also important to remember that different types of boats (sail vs. motor) are held to different safety standards.

When two motorboats collide, the operators of both boats usually share partial blame for the accident. The passengers of the boats could potentially file lawsuits against the operators. If one of the operators of the boats is injured, he or she will most likely only be able to sue the other boat operator involved in the collision.

Hitting the Wake from another Boat

If a boat hits a large wave or wake caused by another boat, it can cause a massive jolt, which can eject passengers from the boat. The legal liability for wake accidents can be hard to determine. Laws, regulations and boating laws require boat operators to watch for any potential hazards.

There are several circumstances that determine operator liability during a wake accident. Some of these circumstances are the visibility, boat speed, size of wake and local boat traffic.

Some other considerations are whether the injured individual was on a sailboat or motorboat or whether passengers were warned by the operator. It’s also possible for the boat operator who caused the wake to be considered negligent; it depends on the exact location of the accident. Boat traffic might also be taken into consideration.

Accidents involving collisions with the wake from another boat are difficult to interpret and it is recommended that individuals who have been in this type of accident speak with a licensed personal injury lawyer.

Large Wave Accidents

Wake and wave accidents are very similar, but a wave accident is different because there aren’t any other boat operators involved. The same elements used for determining negligence in operators involved in an accident with another boat’s wake (see previous section above) are used for determining negligence of an operator of a boat who has hit a large wave.

Collision with Objects

Even if the visibility and weather are excellent, it’s possible for a boat to collide with land, rocks or objects. It’s common for boats to hit a coastline or jetty when visibility is low. It can be difficult to determine if a boat operator is liable for a collision with an object and depends on the circumstances.

No Safety Equipment Onboard

Laws and regulations say all boats must have safety equipment onboard. If a boat crashes, a lack of safety equipment can hinder rescue efforts, which could be grounds to hold the boat operator liable. In such an accident, the boat owner can be held liable.

Damages for an Injury Lawsuit

A boating accident is similar to an automobile accident. If you were injured because of the boat operator’s negligence, then you could sue for compensation. You could be entitled to damages for lost capacity to earn, lost earnings, medical bills and suffering.

How we can help you

A boating accident can have the same negative effects as a car accident and is interpreted similarly. Determining negligence and compensation can be difficult and is not always clear.

Have You Been Injured In An Accident Virginia, Maryland or Washington D.C.?

If you've been hurt in an accident you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Vienna, Virgnia office directly at 703.991.7978 or our Rockville, Maryland office at 301.637.5392 to schedule your case consultation.

Yuvora Nong
Helping VA, MD & Washington D.C. clients with all of their immigration law legal needs since 1997.