Boating Accidents: Who is Liable?

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Boating Accidents: Who is Liable?

If you are hurt in a truck accident with a commercial vehicle, you can often sue not just the driver, but also the truck owner, the shipping company, the truck maintenance company, the loading company, the cargo owner, and many other individuals whose negligence may have contributed to either the occurrence of the severity of the accident through negligent maintenance or hiring practices. The same should be true if you are involved in a boating accident, right?

Not in Florida. In Florida, the statutes state that “liability for reckless or careless operation of a vessel shall be confined to the operator in immediate charge of the vessel and not imposed upon the owner of the vessel, unless the owner is the operator or is present in the vessel when any injury or damage is occasioned by the reckless or careless operation of such vessel.” This is more extreme than international law, which limits liability of owners whose vessels cause personal injury, but still holds owners responsible.

A Statute Favoring Corporations

Those most often protected by this liability limit are corporate boat owners, who are less likely to be on their vessel at the time of any accident. Owner-operators and recreational boat owners are more likely to be held fully liable for any boating accident, because they are more likely to be either operating their vessel or onboard the vessel at the time an operator makes a violation that is termed “reckless or careless operation.” This not only skews the competitive environment against owner-operators in terms of any form of commercial boating operation, but also creates a dangerous environment where a corporation can perform nominal checks in hiring a boat operator, then wash its hands of any consequences that occur as a result of the operators less-than-superb performance.

Pursuing Those Responsible

If you’re injured in a boating accident and try to receive compensation for the full extent of your injuries, you may find yourself stymied by this law. You find that the only person you can sue has little insurance and even less income, leaving you with huge bills and losses from the accident and no possible recourse.

This may be the time to seek out a boating accident lawyer. Although the law protects owners from direct liability, there are a number of ways in which a lawyer can make those truly responsible pay for their actions and your injury. Negligent hiring, negligent entrustment, negligent training are just a few of the practices that your lawyer can expose. In addition, your lawyer can show how the accident was caused or worsened by defective equipment on the boat due to negligent maintenance.

Source by Patricia Woloch

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