What are the responsibilities of a boat driver?

Last updated on: June 15, 2021

CALL (800) 863-5312 TO speak with boater injury lawyers for free

Boating is an excellent way for people to enjoy some recreational time together out on the water. This outdoor sport can be fun, providing an opportunity to sit down and relax with others while also potentially allowing for other activities such as water skiing or kneeboarding. However, these outings only remain enjoyable so long as everyone is able to return to shore and home safely.

Drivers of boats carry a lot of responsibility for the safety of others both inside and outside of their water transportation vehicle; if they fail to learn what their boating responsibilities are, accidents can happen. If you or your loved one has been injured in a boating accident, you should contact one of the experienced personal injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group by calling (800) 863-5312 to schedule a free consultation. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.

boating accident statistics

Boating accidents can be one of the most dangerous consequences of someone neglecting their boating responsibilities. According to the United States Coast Guard, in 2018 alone, there were about 4,145 boating accidents across the United States. These accidents resulted in about 633 deaths, 2,511 injuries, and approximately $46 million in property damage.

About 77 percent of boating accident victims suffered fatal injuries; that is, they drowned. About 84 percent of these victims drowned in a body or simulated body of water and did so because they were not wearing their life jackets. Further, only about 18 percent of all boating accident deaths were caused on boats where the operator of the vessel operated with a nationally approved boating safety education certificate, whereas about 74 percent of boating accident deaths took place where the owner had not received proper boating safety instructions.

Meanwhile, alcohol continued to be one of the leading causes of boating accidents. Specifically, in 2018, alcohol was considered the leading cause of death as it was responsible for about 19 percent of all boating-related deceased victims. According to the Coast Guard report, the following list of accident types were responsible for the most 2018 boating accidents:

  • Objects falling overboard were responsible for about 159 deaths
  • Capsizing, folding or warming up the proposed front
  • Colliding with fixed objects

With the large scale of federal law or regulations concerning boating accidents, boaters should work together to stay abreast of every new change in this arena of recreational sport. What may never change is the fact that the most common types of vessels involved in boating accidents are open motorboats, cabin motorboats, and personal watercraft.

what are boaters’ responsibilities?

Considering that millions of people each year will visit bodies of water and explore them, most states continue to encourage their boaters to take every necessary precaution to protect themselves and any others out on and enjoying the water. Like drivers of automotive vehicles out on the road today, some boaters may choose to ignore their long list of required protections and get on the water without making sure that their responsibilities are being met to prevent potential injuries. The responsibilities of boaters in many states vary depending on what kind of boat the person is operating:

Leisure Boat Operators

The operator of a boat is responsible for exercising reasonable care to facilitate the safest possible environment for his or her passenger(s) on the boat. Maritime law requires boat owners to remember that their primary responsibility is owed to the well-being of any guests who are present. The owner or driver of the boat should have a thorough knowledge of how to operate the boat, and he or she should also properly maintain the boat to ensure that it safe for operation.

In some states, a boater must have a life jacket available for each passenger on the boat including himself or herself. The boater should possess a thorough knowledge of boating laws in the state where the boat is being operated.

If the owner or operator of the boat is aware of any potential dangers on the boat, he or she should inform any other passengers. This includes explaining how passengers should conduct themselves while on the boat in order to have the safest experience possible.

If the boater is driving his or her boat in an area where swimmers or other water sportsmen are present, he or she is also responsible for operating the boat in a manner that does not endanger them. For example, if the propeller of the boat injures a nearby swimmer, the boater could be liable for the swimmer’s injuries. Ultimately, boaters are responsible for safely and properly operating the vessel in adherence to state laws where the boat is being used.

Finally, some specific examples of daily tasks that a boat owner is responsible for taking include:

  • Clearing any potential hazards off of the slippery surfaces
  • Helping any guests who may need assistance getting their bearings so they can maneuver safely about the boat
  • Always make sure that every employee or staff member knows about the boat’s dangerous propeller

Commercial Boat Operators

Commercial and leisure boat owners are subject to many of the same expectations in regard to avoiding dangerous accidents. Some of the most common responsibilities of boaters of commercial vehicles include:

  • Make sure the vessel is kept safe and free of any potential dangers.
  • Comply with the Jones Act, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  • Provide necessary and adequate training, supervision, and oversight of all employees who will be operating the boat.
  • Provide all necessary maintenance to support a safe environment for all employees and passengers.

Ultimately, the standard of care for boaters requires most boat operators or owners, whether for commercial or personal reasons, to provide a boating experience that is reasonably safe for all employees and any invited guests, even if it may not be absolutely safe and accident proof. Additionally, boat owners are generally required to warn guests about any risks that the boater is aware of.

If you or a loved one were injured on a boat and you believe that irresponsible boating led to your injury, you should contact an experienced boater injury lawyer to handle your personal injury claim. Your attorney may be able to help you determine if the driver of the boat is liable for your injuries and help you seek the maximum amount of compensation that you may be entitled to.

common types of boating Accidents

Whether done commercially or recreationally, operating a boat poses a variety of risks and hazards; similar to vehicle accidents on the road, boating accidents can result in severe injuries or even death. The nature of the accident may be affected by multiple factors such as the type of boat(s) involved, weather conditions during the time of the accident, and any negligent behavior by the operator of the boat. If a boater fails to operate safely and properly his or her boat, resulting in someone else sustaining an injury, the boater may be held liable for those injuries.

Commercial Boating Accidents

Commercial boating may also lead to a victim being injured on a boat. As with any other work environment, there can be a number of hazards that could cause serious injuries or even death. Some of the potential hazards that commercial boaters must respect and work to avoid, include:

  • Equipment failures
  • Careless operations
  • Deck fires
  • Intoxication-related incidents
  • Overboard accidents
  • Propeller accidents

types of common boating injuries

Depending on the nature of the accident, boating accidents can be particularly dangerous or result in fatal outcomes. Some of the most common types of boating injuries include:

  • Drowning accidents: where a lack of life jackets or knowing how to swim caused victims to drown, especially if the victim already suffered injuries which interfered with their ability to stay afloat
  • Slip and falls: when employees failed to make sure that decks or other surfaces were kept free from potential, slippery dangers

What you should do after a boating accident

Similar to car accidents, if you are involved in a boating accident, you should contact a boater injury lawyer to make sure that your injuries will be covered as much as possible. To that point, some recommended steps that you should consider following after a boating accident include:

  • Make sure all of your remaining passengers are safe, including by conducting a quick inspection to ensure that all life jackets are worn and secured properly.
  • Make sure that all boat operators onboard and witnesses have provided their contact and insurance information.
  • Contact law enforcement as soon as possible after the accident.
  • Contact the skilled team at Zinda Law Group to help you pursue any potential claim.

CONTACT A boater injury attorney TODAY

Boat injuries do not always receive the same attention as car accident injuries, unfortunately. Your attorney will conduct an investigation and gather as much evidence as possible so that he or she is better prepared for presenting your case to the insurance company. They will begin by determining whether the boat operator took reasonable precautions to reduce the risks of an accident while on the water; if they did not, they may be held liable for your injury.

If you have been injured in a boating accident, you should call an experienced boating injury attorney from Zinda Law Group as soon as possible to set up your free consultation and to discuss your potential legal options regarding the lawsuit. Once you have retained a lawyer from Zinda Law Group, he or she will be able to take the lead on handling your case, allowing you to focus on recovering from any injuries you may have suffered in the accident.

Call (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation with a boater injury lawyer from Zinda Law Group. You will not pay anything unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.

Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.