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How is liability determined in a boating accident? 

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Boating is a popular recreational activity in Miami, thanks to its beautiful coastline and numerous waterways. However, with the increased number of boats on the water, the risk of boating accidents also rises. These accidents can result in property damage, physical injury or death.  

By June 10, 2024, Florida was leading in having the highest number of the nation’s boating accidents, with alcohol and drug use increasing fatalities by 23% from 10% in 2022. Determining liability in these accidents is not always straightforward. Some of the ways authorities use to determine liability include: 

The boat operator

The boat operator is the first person to be checked during a boating accident. Negligence can include behaviors such as: 

  • Reckless operations such as speeding  
  • Distracted boating, including any activity that diverts the operator’s attention, like texting or eating 
  • Boating under the influence (BUI) of alcohol or drugs 

If the operator is found to be negligent, they can be held responsible for the accident. 

The boat manufacturer

In some cases, the boat may have defects or issues that contributed to the accident. Common scenarios include: 

  • Mechanical failures that cause the loss of control, such as faulty engines or steering systems  
  • Poor design that makes the boat unstable or prone to capsizing 

The manufacturer can be held liable if there’s a manufacturing defect or design flaw. 

Other parties

Liability can also extend to other parties involved. They include: 

  • Rental companies: If it was a rental boat, the rental company might be liable if they didn’t properly maintain the vessel or failed to give adequate safety instructions. 
  • Passenger negligence: Passengers who engage in reckless behavior that leads to an accident can also be held partially responsible. 
  • Other boaters: In cases where another vessel’s operator caused or contributed to the accident, they might share liability. 

Because of the complex nature of the boating accident cases, seeking legal support is essential. Victims of boating accidents can find it easier to focus on their recovery if they receive the right legal guidance.


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