Frequently Asked Questions about Boat Accidents and Injuries
Q: Who is liable if a crewmember is injured while working?
A: A person injured while employed as a maritime worker over navigable waters will be covered by federal law. The employer is generally liable for injuries or the wrongful death of an employee.
Q: What are “navigable waters”?
A: “Navigable waters” are all waters which are capable of transporting people or cargo between the states and other countries.
Q: What are the common causes of boating injuries and fatalities?
A: Some common causes of boating injuries and fatalities are: capsizing of the vessel, falls overboard, running aground, sinking, striking an object in the water (like a buoy or personal watercraft) and a collision with another vessel.
Q: What are some safety measures that can help prevent injuries and deaths from boating accidents?
A: Some safety measures that can help prevent injuries and deaths are: wearing a life jacket, not consuming alcoholic beverages while boating, taking a boating education course, obeying speed limits and no-wake restrictions and participating in the Vessel Safety Check (VSC) program.
Q: Can anyone have a personal injury claim if injured while aboard a watercraft?
A: People who may have a personal injury claim may be a: seaman, social guest, business visitor, bystander, swimmer, water skier or fellow boater. The individuals’ category classification determines whether state or federal law will apply to their claim.
Q: Does maritime law only apply to large commercial ships?
A: No. Maritime law applies to most types of vessels. A vessel may be a large commercial cargo ship, a cruise ship, a fishing boat, a jet ski, hovercraft or another type of personal watercraft.
Q: I suffered an injury while aboard a cruise ship; do I have a claim?
A: Personal injuries aboard a cruise ship are covered by maritime law, but there are often limitations included in cruise ship contracts. You should contact an attorney knowledgeable in maritime law to discuss your situation and what your legal options may be.
Q: What are some common boating accident contributing factors?
A: While no two accidents are exactly alike, some common factors that cause boating accidents include: operator inattention or distraction, inexperience, excessive speed, careless/reckless operation, alcohol/”boating while intoxicated”, passenger/skier behaviors, not having a proper lookout, restricted vision, hazardous waters or weather, equipment failure and engine failure.
Q: When must a boating accident report be filed?
A: A causality or accident report must be submitted to the reporting authority if any of the following occurs: a person dies, a person disappears under circumstances that indicate death or injury, a person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid, damage to the vessel and property is greater than $500, or there is the complete loss of a vessel.
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