If you are an occasional or avid boater, you need to understand who is liable in the event of an accident. Even the most seasoned pilot might not be aware of their options for compensation after a boat crash.
According to the American Boating Association, there were over 4000 accidents every year since 2001. See below to see for a brief overview of boating accident liability.
The boat owner must provide a safe and seaworthy vessel. If they do not maintain their equipment or neglect safety regulations, the boat owner might have liability in the accident even if they did not pilot the boat at the time.
Usually, the boat operator has some fault in the accident. Factors such as reckless piloting, speeding or not paying attention may mean the operator has to pay damages to injured parties.
If you rented a boat and got into an accident, the rental company may owe you damages. You likely signed a waiver to protect the renter from some liability. However, if they gave you a faulty or unsafe vessel, they may owe damages to all injured parties.
Sometimes a passenger contributes to the boating accident. If a passenger on board distracted the driver or endangered other passengers’ lives in some way, they might have to pay out damages.
Boating insurance operates very similarly to car insurance. When a party contributes to an accident, they have liability. Protect yourself from liability by taking care of your vessel and engaging in safe operating procedures.