Things to Know If Involved in a Boating Accident

If you’ve never been in a boating accident, consider yourself lucky. Imagine the stress of a road accident, and combine it with the unfamiliarity and complexity of being on the water. Even if you’re lucky enough that no one gets hurt in the collision, you might still have to pay for expensive repairs. Whether you get hurt or end up damaging your boat, you should know your legal rights.

Here we’ve enlisted some basic things you must know to minimize the risks. We will also discuss how to navigate an insurance and negligence claim in these situations.

What to Know When Involved in a Boating Accident

Prove Negligence

Whether you get injured on a sailboat or motorboat, to recover damages, you need to prove that the injury was the result of someone’s negligence. Note that getting hurt doesn’t mean that the opposing party was negligent or inattentive.

Negligence, on the other hand, can be a display of an irresponsible act. Put simply, in such incidents, your legal team must prove that your injuries were the result of someone else’s actions.

Can a Negligence Claim Work?

To understand negligence claims, learn the main boating accidents types. Most pleasure boating accidents include a boat;

  • hitting another boat or watercraft
  • striking a submerged object under the water
  • hitting the wake of another boat or jet ski
  •  striking a wave

Accident with Another Boat

When two boats collide with each other, the operators are partly at fault. That means if passengers get hurt in the collision, they can file a legal claim against the boat operators, like a vehicle accident case.

If one operator gets injured, he/she can claim a case against the other one. Note that if a sailboat and motorboat collide, the motorboat is usually at the fault. This is because a motorboat requires keeping a distance from the sailboat according to the “Rules of the Road.”

Hitting the Wake of Another Boat

If a boat hits a wake, the jolt could potentially throw the passengers off the watercraft. As legal liability for this kind of accident isn’t clear, the safety boat practices or boating laws require operators to lookout for things that may cause risk to themselves or passengers.

However, the liability in the wake accident generally depends on the following circumstances;

  • size and intensity of the wake
  • speed of the boat
  • traffic in the boat area
  • visibility
  • whether passengers know that the boat was hitting a big wake

Hitting a Huge Wave

A wave accident is almost similar to that of a wake. The only difference is that no other boat is there to hold liable. The mentioned circumstances, in this regard, describe whether it was the operator’s negligence or not.

Striking an Object Below the Water’s Surface

In the majority of cases, shallow water or objects breaching the surface of the water are marked for boaters to see. It’s the operator’s responsibility to keep an eye out for these and assess the area around them. Avoid these marked stakes when possible.

Does Insurance Coverage Affect Your Case?

If a person who was at fault doesn’t have assets or boater’s insurance, he/she might not be able to pay for the repairs and damages you suffer. Plus, motor vehicle insurance doesn’t cover boat injuries. However, your homeowners policy may provide some coverage, but this depends on whether you have boating insurance through your home insurance policy. 

Your best bet is purchasing boat insurance which typically covers injuries, property damage, liability, medical bills, and theft. It’s always better to have proper coverage because accidents happen.

Summing Up

Thus, boat accidents may result in physical damages and cost you a hefty amount if you’re at fault. Be aware of the types of negligence claims you can file and insure yourself with boater’s insurance.


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