Who is liable after an injury on a boat?

People in Florida love their boats, but they need to keep a watchful eye on any passengers who get on board to prevent injuries. According to data from the United States Coast Guard, over 4,000 boat accidents occurred in 2016, resulting in over 2,900 injuries. 

When people suffer an injury on a recreational boat, perhaps a friend's or co-worker's, they may not want to mention anything because they do not want to ruin the relationship. However, an array of serious injuries can occur, from whiplash to lacerations. Anyone injured on a boat should seek damages to pay for medical expenses. Under most circumstances, the person liable will be the operator of the boat.

The boat owner

The person driving the boat needs to exercise the greatest amount of care to ensure everyone remains safe. The driver needs to stay vigilant to avoid colliding with another boat, crashing into a rock or hitting a wave. It is also the boat owner's responsibility to ensure there are enough safety provisions on board in case anything does happen. This includes life vests and first aid kits. In a majority of circumstances, the owner of the boat will at least be partially liable if anyone suffers an injury. 

Another boat owner

Boat collisions are more common than many people realize. In this case, both boat operators will be partially negligent. However, there are circumstances where one will be more liable than the other. For example, if a crash involved a motorboat and a sailboat, then it is the responsibility of the motorboat to give slower sailboats the right of way. 

Other passengers

Occasionally, another passenger on the boat will hold some liability for another's injury. If a passenger acts too recklessly or has become too inebriated to behave maturely, then he or she may end up hurting someone else or pushing someone overboard. Dual liability may be on the table because it is the responsibility of the boat owner to ensure no one becomes too drunk or reckless. However, the individual who caused harm will still hold some liability.

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