How Is Fault Determined After A Boating Accident?

Boating accidents are a lot different than car accidents, even if they might seem similar to the layman. Imagine one common scenario: There are two boats, one of which has left a huge wake behind her. The second boat is going too fast at an angle perpendicular to the path of the first boat, and the driver is ejected when he hits the wake. There are no speed limits in these particular waters.

Who is at fault?

It’s not an easy question to answer, in part because there is no firm set of rules to govern who might win or lose. It’s possible the court may decide that both parties are negligent or that neither were. One thing’s for certain: if you’re a boat owner, you’d better have boat insurance or a good personal injury lawyer with a good knowledge of maritime law.

The primary difference between boating accidents and car accidents is how easily proof is obtained. It is extremely difficult to prove negligence after a boating accident. Part of the reason is because there are fewer potential witnesses to these types of accidents, which means it’s often a case of “he said, she said.” The difference in regulations and laws is one more reason.

If you were involved in a boating accident as a passenger, then you can potentially bring a claim against either the driver of the boat in which you were riding, or another party responsible for your injuries. This other party might be a boat manufacturer or seller who sold the owner a faulty machine, or it might be another driver on the same waters where you got into the accident. It depends on the situation.

Another complication is the age of many laws that regulate some maritime accidents. Although accidents are common, they’re still less common than car accidents, and so regulations aren’t always updated. Old laws aren’t always stripped from the books. Some of these work in the favor of the boat owner, allowing him or her to avoid paying out accident claims when it would otherwise become necessary. In order for such cases to move forward, negligence must still be proved.

If you were in an accident and someone was injured or killed, you must require the appropriate paperwork or risk prosecution under federal and state laws.

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