Pleasure Boat and Ferry Accidents
Boating is one of the most popular recreational water activities in the country. With the increasing popularity of boating, it has become very crucial for all boaters to exercise caution when taking their boats on the open water. Sadly, numerous pleasure boat and ferry accidents happen around the country each year, with a relaxing excursion on the water quickly resulting in personal injury or even wrongful death.
Pleasure boat and ferry accidents often transpire because people tend to underestimate the dangers of boats compared to motor vehicles. Among the more common watercraft involved in such accidents are jet skis, cabin cruisers, runabouts, and other powerboats. Cruise ships, yachts, bow riders, deep-sea fishing boats, and sailboats are also often involved in accidents.
There are many reasons for boating injuries and fatalities to occur. Some of the more common causes of pleasure boat and ferry accident injuries include:
- Operator inattention
- Operator inexperience
- Operator negligence, careless, or recklessness
- Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Operating a boat at a high speed
- Defective equipment
- Improper seating or safety equipment
- Mechanical malfunctions
- Contact with propellers
- Causing a large wake at an unsafe angle or speed
- Inappropriate passenger behavior
- Overloading or overcrowding
- Inclement weather or water conditions
- Failure to adhere to nautical safety laws and regulations
Of course, there are many other causes of boating accidents. Operators may not be familiar with water depths, or may collide with other watercraft or even a fixed object. The boat design may be defective, or there may be a defect in the boat repair or construction. In some instances, there may not be enough personal floatation devices or safety vests for the amount of people onboard.
People injured while aboard a pleasure boat are often confused about which laws apply and where to seek compensation. Maritime and admiralty laws apply to all boating accidents that occur on lakes, rivers, or at sea. Maritime law differs greatly from laws that apply to motor vehicle accidents and other personal injury accidents that transpire on land.
One of the first steps in any boating accident is to determine the entity or entities at fault. Under general maritime law, all owners and operators of a vessel on navigable waters owe a duty of care to all people onboard. They must operate their boats safely and properly, and appropriately warn their passengers of any dangerous or hazardous conditions. This law applies regardless of where the incident occurs.
Depending on the unique circumstances, one or more pleasure boat operators or owners may be responsible for the injury or death of an onboard occupant or guest of another vessel. Persons injured due to the boat owner or operator’s negligence may be entitled to receive compensation in the form of payment for medical expenses, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, pain and suffering, disability, and other related damages.
Seeking Legal Representation
An individual may qualify for benefits under the Jones Act—depending on his or her purpose on the boat. A crewmember or cook on a yacht or cruise ship, for instance, may potentially qualify for compensation under the Jones Act. A passenger injured in a recreational boating accident, however, would not qualify. Instead, the injured passenger’s case would be governed under the same laws that govern passenger injuries on a cruise ship and other pleasure vessels.
Pleasure boat owners and operators often contest injury claims aggressively, even when it was their negligence that caused the accident. It is essential, therefore, for victims injured in a boating accident to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable maritime attorney as soon as possible.
If you have suffered injury due to a pleasure boat or ferry accident, call Corpus Christi Tx personal injury attorney Sheadyn R Rogers of Rogers Law Firm at (361) 356-6057 or fill out the law firm's online consultation request form for a free consultation concerning your case.