When you rent a boat in California, you’re expecting to have a great time out on one of California’s many waterways. Whether it be a party boat or you’re taking a fishing trip, there’s no shortage of opportunities to get out on the water. But like any scenario where a motor vehicle is involved, there’s always the possibility of being involved in an accident.
A key to any accident involving a rental boat is figuring out who’s responsible. Depending on the specific circumstances, a number of different parties could be involved. Then, you have to deal with insurance companies that aim to pay as little as possible.
Knowledgeable California Boat Accident Lawyers
At Maison Law, our team of dedicated and knowledgeable California boat accident lawyers can help. We understand how difficult a boat accident can be, especially when the boat itself was rented. Regardless of the circumstances, we can make sure you get the legal support you need.
Handling cases with rental boats can be challenging, but we’re proud to stand up for our clients. If you or someone you know is hurt in a rental boat accident, contact us for a free consultation.
Why Do People Rent Boats in California?
Normally,when you think about renting a vehicle in California, you probably think about renting a car, truck, or van. But renting a boat is an increasingly popular option for many people throughout the state, especially in areas of California where there are expansive beaches or lakes. Geographically, California is unique in that it offers a number of different opportunities for boating activities. Here are some of the more common reasons people rent boats in California:
- Recreation – California’s picturesque coastline and numerous lakes offer opportunities for leisure activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, and engaging in water sports like tubing, wakeboarding, and jet skiing.
- Scenic views – Boating affords individuals a distinctive vantage point to appreciate California’s coastlines, iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, and scenery.
- Family gatherings – Renting a boat provides an excellent venue for families to convene, particularly for significant occasions like weddings or reunions.
- Wildlife – The waters of California are inhabited by diverse marine life, including whales, dolphins, seals, and other species. Renting a boat facilitates the observation of these creatures in their natural habitat.
- Outdoor sports – For those with an inclination for fishing, boat rentals grant access to exceptional locations in the ocean or lakes, ideal for catching a variety of fish species.
- Exploration – Boats offer the means to explore coastal islands such as Catalina Island, and allow people to explore these areas a bit closer.
- Relaxation – The gentle rocking of a boat and the soothing sounds of water offer a peaceful break from a busy life for many in California.
- Water sports and activities – Enthusiasts of water sports opt to rent boats for activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, and the exploration of concealed coves and caves.
- Sailing – Some individuals choose to rent boats for the purpose of learning sailing through instruction provided by educational institutions or private lessons.
Obviously, there’s many different reasons why people rent boats in California. However, renting a boat offers another advantage: versatility. Not only can you rent a boat, but depending on what you want to do, you can rent many different kinds of boats, like:
- Pontoon boats
- Duck boats
- Speed boats
- Fishing boats
No matter what type of boat that gets rented, when it’s out on the water, it could encounter any number of factors that would lead to an accident. And unfortunately, that could leave you or a loved one severely injured.
Rental Boat Accidents and Injuries in California
Just like no two car accidents are alike, every boating accident that happens in California is unique. 2021 Data from the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways found that there were 593 boating accidents resulting in 256 injuries statewide that year.
Unfortunately, a boating accident can happen anywhere at any time. However, there are certain types of boating accidents that are more common in California:
- Collisions with other vessels – Accidents involving boats colliding with each other due to factors like navigation errors, inattentiveness, or improper passing.
- Groundings – Boats running aground on shallow waters, sandbars, or submerged objects.
- Capsizing – Overturning of boats, often due to rough waters, high waves, or improper loading.
- Drownings – Accidents where individuals fall overboard and face difficulties returning to the boat or staying afloat.
- Propeller accidents – Injuries caused by boat propellers, especially in cases of people being struck while swimming or near the boat.
- Alcohol-related accidents – Boating under the influence of alcohol, leading to impaired judgment and increased risk of accidents.
- Flooding and Sinking – Water entering the boat leading to flooding or sinking, often due to mechanical failures or improper maintenance.
- Fires and explosions – Accidents caused by fuel leaks, electrical issues, or improper storage of flammable materials.
- Navigation hazards – Collisions with buoys, markers, piers, and other navigational aids.
- Weather-related accidents – Sudden storms, high winds, and rough waters contributing to accidents.
- Inexperienced operators – Accidents caused by individuals operating boats without proper training or experience.
- Equipment failures – Accidents resulting from mechanical failures of the boat’s systems or components.
Each one of these accidents can also lead to common injuries, like:
- Cuts and bruises
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Severe lacerations
- Internal injuries
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Sprains and strains
- Eye injuries
There’s no denying that renting a boat is exciting, but when it results in an accident that injures you or a loved one, the experience can quickly turn overwhelming. The more severe the injury, the more impact it’ll have on you and your family. That’s why it’s so important to understand how the law approaches rental boat accidents.
Who is Responsible For a Rental Boat Accident in California?
Determining who is responsible in a rental boat accident can be intricate, yet it follows the same principles as any other accident. It all starts with establishing negligence. Rental boats are held to the same legal standard as other motor vehicles regarding accountability for accidents. Essentially, similar to any other vehicle, if negligence on the part of the rental boat driver leads to an accident, both the driver and the company share the liability for resulting damages. To elaborate, there are four elements to consider in negligence:
- A legal responsibility owed to the injured party by the rental boat driver or company.
- Breach of this responsibility by the rental boat driver or company.
- Injury sustained by you or someone else.
- Demonstration that the rental boat driver or company’s breach of duty directly caused the injury (also known as “proximate cause”).
When addressing the element of negligence, there are various potential parties that could bear responsibility for your injuries in an accident:
- The rental company that owns or operates the boat
- The driver of the rental boat (whether employed by a company or renting the vehicle)
- The manufacturer of a defective part
The determination of liability heavily depends on the specific circumstances of the accident. If the boat’s driver was operating erratically or under the influence, leading to the accident, they would be held liable. In the event that the rental company inadequately screened the renter, and that driver caused the accident, the company would be held accountable. If the boat experiences brake failure or some other equipment malfunctions, the manufacturer could be deemed responsible. Regardless of the accident’s cause, a combination of these parties could share liability for damages, as a portion of fault might rest with each.
Furthermore, California operates under a “comparative negligence” rule, which says that your potential recovery is reduced by your percentage of fault in the accident.
Regardless, our team of experienced California boat accident lawyers can not only help you figure out all of the responsible parties, but also guide you through the claims process.
Claims Process in a California Rental Boat Accident
In the immediate aftermath of a rental boat accident, there are specific actions you should take to protect your health and legal rights. Your safety and that of your passengers take precedence, so ensure everyone is unharmed. Once that’s squared away, you should:
- Notify the authorities – Report the accident to law enforcement for an official record.
- Seek medical help – Call for medical help if needed by contacting an ambulance.
- Collect witness statements – Obtain statements from witnesses and request their contact details.
- Document the scene – Capture photos and videos of the accident site to document the extent of the damage.
- Exchange information – Share contact and insurance details with the other parties involved.
- Verify rental details – If necessary, obtain evidence confirming the rental boat driver’s employment with the rental company, or any other rental information that’s available.
After completing these initial steps following a rental boat accident, your next course of action should be reaching out to our team of experienced boat accident lawyers. We can provide comprehensive assistance, which includes tasks such as:
- Initiating an injury claim with your own insurance provider
- Filing a claim directly with the insurance carrier of the parties at fault
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties
Whatever option you choose, our team can help you put together the strongest possible case for your recovery. In a typical boat accident claim, you can recover the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages or income
- Property damage
- Loss of companionship or enjoyment of life
- Costs relating to scarring or disfigurement
- Punitive damages
- Wrongful death expenses, in the event of a fatal accident
California Boat Accident Lawyers You Can Trust
At Maison Law, our ultimate goal is client satisfaction. When you’ve been hurt in a rental boat accident, you can count on our expertise and legal guidance. Throughout our years of practice in California, our boat accident lawyers have developed a proven system that gets our clients the financial support and closure they need.
Don’t hesitate to contact us to set up your free consultation after you’ve been in a boat accident in California.