Who is Liable in a Boating Accident?
With Summer in Tennessee in full swing, more people are taking advantage of the many lakes and other waterways around Nashville for boating. Nothing beats a beautiful sunny day out on the water with friends or family.
The main priority for those using boats is safety. Boating safety is extremely important at this time of year, and since so many people will be out on the water all at once, there is always the chance that boating accidents will happen when one boat collides with another or inflicts property damage or injuries to another person.
However, when a boating accident happens, the injured victims are often left wondering who is responsible for the accident. What person, whether they were operating the boat, owning the boat, or were simply a reckless passenger, is at fault?
At the law office of Mitch Grissim & Associates, our team of legal professionals is here to help you determine who is liable after a boating accident. Call our office or contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options for compensation.
Determining Liability in Boating Accidents
When you are involved in a boating accident and want to pursue legal action in the aftermath, determining liability for the incident is one of the most significant aspects of filing a claim. So who are the various parties that could be held accountable in your claim?
The most common liable party for a boat accident is the boat operator at the time of the crash. The boat operator has control over the vessel and is responsible for ensuring that all maritime law is obeyed.
They are also responsible for ensuring that safety protocols are adhered to while on the boat. Speeding, not paying attention, operating a vessel under the influence, and other negligent behaviors by boat operators cause many accidents every year.
If a boat accident is caused by an equipment failure or because the boat was not properly maintained, the owner of the vessel may be held responsible for any injuries that result from a crash.
A boat owner must keep their vessel in safe condition, especially if they are allowing passengers onboard or are taking the boat out onto the water where other vessels are present. In this case, it is possible to prove negligence on the part of the owner led to the malfunction or failure that led to the collision. Failure to properly maintain the boat can mean liability for any accidents that result.
Accidents that are caused by a defect in the vessel can lead to boat manufacturers being held liable for any injuries.
Design defects and manufacturing defects are the responsibility of the boat manufacturer, and any accidents that result from an accident caused by a defect may render the manufacturer strictly liable under Tennessee product liability law. For boat owners, pay attention to any recalls on your model or for parts associated with your personal watercraft to keep everything properly maintained.
Boat Rental Companies
If the vessel involved in a boating accident was rented out by a company for use, the rental company may be liable for any damages.
This is particularly true if the boat operator was an employee of the rental company, but even in situations where the boat operator and passengers were renters, the rental company might still be held liable for any injuries caused by an accident.
A rental company’s failure to provide reasonable safety equipment like life jackets can also lead to collisions.
Finally, the liability for a boating accident may rest with another passenger on the vessel if they are behaving negligently or recklessly that leading to a collision.
This behavior can range from distracting or impeding the vessel operator’s ability to drive the boat themselves to pushing someone overboard or causing a fire on the vessel. Every boating accident is different, and an experienced boating accident attorney will be able to pinpoint where the liability lies in your crash.
What to do After a Boating Accident
Certain laws exist to protect the safety of all boat operators and passengers, as well as property. But when boating accidents do occur, it is important to know what rights you have under the state boating laws.
Boating Laws Allow You to File a Claim
If you have been injured or experienced property damage due to a collision, you may be entitled to compensation. Many sets of laws apply in this situation, including federal law, state laws, and local laws.
The complexity of this process can be overwhelming, which is why you should contact an experienced attorney for assistance. They can help you navigate the claims process legally and to obtain the maximum settlement possible.
Federal Law Allows Pursuit of Damages
If an accident caused injuries or property damage that has affected you or your passengers, you have the right to pursue damages to cover any financial losses.
These losses can include medical treatment for your personal injury or other medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage that requires repairs, or other financial ramifications. You have a right to reasonable care following a personal injury, but you should not be punished for it financially when it is someone else’s fault.
If you can prove that the losses occurred as a direct result of the collision with the other watercraft, then you could win fair compensation.
If the operator of the boat is found liable in a boating collision, then you will have the best chance of obtaining damages. However, proving fault can be a difficult task.
Were proper boating safety standards being followed? Did weather conditions contribute to the incident? How many boats were involved? Was the operator or owner of the boat negligent? When local authorities get involved, or even the Coast Guard, they will investigate what caused the incident.
Another factor that would affect the outcome of the case is what other parties were involved. Did the accident occur during recreational boating with a personal watercraft such as someone riding jet skis? Was it a commercial or charter watercraft that would put the accident under federal admiralty jurisdiction and involve the United States Coast Guard?
All of this comes into play when attempting to prove liability when boats get into an accident.
Holding the Responsible Person Accountable
To make our waters safer for all vessels, it becomes crucial to hold the person at fault accountable for their negligence. Whether it is the owner of the boat, operator of the boat, a passenger, or a company, lawsuits can lead to fixed behaviors and fair punishment.
When you experience personal injury or damages when someone else is liable in a boating accident, contact our law firm to learn more about how you can recover your financial losses and hold the responsible person accountable.
Call or Contact Us
Most states with high volumes of waterways have standard practices in place for handling accidents involving boats. Tennessee law protects boaters and passengers of all kinds after an accident, but it is difficult to understand what other laws may apply in your situation.
What is the difference between commercial and recreational boating? Did negligence lead to an injury? How did the operator violate boating safety standards? Is the incident severe enough to cause potential jail time for the person at fault? Did the accident occur in waters subject to the Coast Guard?
You will need the help of an experienced legal firm to answer these questions and work through your claim successfully. Our team vows to uphold your rights and put your needs first to give you the best chance of winning a fair settlement to cover your damages. Whether you reach a settlement early or the case goes to state court, we will be on your side every step of the way.
Have you or a loved one been injured in a Tennessee boating accident? If so, call or contact the Nashville boat accident attorneys at Mitch Grissim & Associates today to schedule a free case consultation.