Unfortunately, boating accidents often result in serious injury or fatalities. Most states, including California, do not require that boaters hold accident insurance. Banks, on the other hand, will require that boaters hold insurance before providing financing for a boat. Many marinas also require that a boat is insured before allowing docking or mooring. Although accident insurance is not a requirement for boaters, most laws surrounding boating are very strict.
Federal Maritime vs State Law
The main complications from boating accidents arise around which law applies in any given case. The two types of laws that come into play are federal maritime law and state tort law. The distinction is important, which is why it is wise to hire a lawyer who understands where the lines cross.
Maritime law is generally believed to only apply to commercial vessels or those that are considered ocean-going. Many watercraft may also meet the requirements to fall under maritime law, which means the type of vessel is not the only potential element that must be met. There are two conditions that determine when maritime law applies – the locality tests and nexus test. These tests deal with a number of factors about the location of the vessel and types of activities in which it was engaged at the time of the accident.
If the conditions required to satisfy maritime law are not met, boating accidents are typically considered under state tort law, barring any other complications.
Liability in Boating Accidents
Boaters are not free from liability when it comes to accidents, regardless of whether maritime or state law applies. The owner or operator of a watercraft has an obligation to provide a reasonably safe environment to guests on the vessel.
There are a number of scenarios that provide good examples of when there is a breach of care on the part of the operator. Violations of rules of water may occur when the operator fails to exercise good judgment. Such failures may include excessive speeding, consuming alcohol, overloading the vessel or conducting excessive maneuvers without warning.
In other cases, liability may lie with the party or parties responsible for the design, manufacture, upkeep or maintenance of the vessel. Determining who, if anyone, is liable for a boating accident is often as complex as determining whether the accident comes under maritime laws or state laws.
California Boating Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a boating accident and aren’t sure how to pursue compensation for your injuries, call Maison Law in California today. We have extensive understanding of the laws surrounding boating accidents at both federal and state levels. Our legal team will put together a case aimed toward maximizing any potential compensation you are entitled to as a result of your accident.
Reach out to Maison Law if you would like to take advantage of a free, no-obligation consultation. We don’t mind traveling, so you can even provide the details of the accident from a hospital bed or the comfort of your own home, if it makes life a little bit easier.