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Who is Liable for Your Boating Accident Injury in Michigan

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Michigan is a great place to own a boat. It is surrounded by the Great Lakes and is an ideal spot for recreational or commercial boating. Unfortunately, operating any kind of watercraft presents potential safety risks. Boating accidents can result in serious and life-altering injuries.

The increase in the popularity of personal watercraft, like jet skis, has resulted in a rising number of collisions. Figures from the US Coast Guard (USCG) for 2019 show around 4,168 boating accidents in the United States. These recreational boating accidents caused 613 deaths and over 2,559 injuries. These accidents also caused over $55 million worth of damage to property.

It is often difficult to determine who’s at fault for these types of accidents. Evidence can be quickly lost or swept away by water. To understand what evidence you need and who is liable for any injuries or damage sustained, you need an experienced boating accident attorney.

At Cochran Kroll & Associates P.C., our boat accident attorneys have many years of experience dealing with boating accidents in Michigan. They can give you legal guidance on how to proceed with your claim.

How Do Insurance Companies Deal With Boating Claims?

Claims for injuries from boating collisions are treated differently from auto accidents. Michigan’s no-fault insurance does not cover boating crashes. The people injured in a boating accident must rely on their health insurance or recover damages from the person responsible.

Many boat owners do take out boat insurance. Usually, this would cover risks like damage to the boat, damage to a third party’s boat, medical expenses resulting from an accident, and liability coverage for you, your crew, and anyone injured by your boat.

Who May be Liable for My Injuries?

Liability can be established against several parties involved in an accident:

The Boat Operator

The boat operator owes you a duty of care. So, if you can prove that they did not exercise reasonable care in controlling their boat and this caused your injury, they will be liable for your lost wages, medical bills, damage to property together with your pain and suffering.

The Boat Owner

If a boat is involved in an accident, the boat owner may be held liable whether they were in control of it or not. This applies if an immediate family member operated the boat; it’s implied the owner has given them consent to operate the vessel. So, if a member of the owner’s family caused the collision in which you were injured, the owner may be liable for damages sustained in the accident.

Owners or Operators of Commercial Vessels

The owners or operators of commercial vessels may be held liable for the consequences of any accident on their boat. They have a responsibility to maintain the boat in good condition and piloted safely. If they fail to maintain boating safety standards, they may be held liable for an injury or death on their boat.

What Proof Do I Need?

If you were injured as a result of a private boating accident, various pieces of evidence can help prove your case. To receive damages, you may need to demonstrate that:

  • The operator was drunk or using drugs
  • The boat was not fitted with proper safety equipment such as life preservers
  • The owner did not maintain the boat properly
  • The operator was recklessly piloting the boat or was blatantly breaking boating laws
  • A passenger was interfering with the boat operator and stopping piloting the boat properly
  • The boat owner lent the vessel to someone they knew was unqualified or unable to pilot the boat safely.

In the case of an accident involving a commercial vessel, you may need to provide evidence showing:

  • The boat was not properly manned
  • The staff were inadequately trained
  • The boat was not maintained to the appropriate standard
  • The boat was not operated per the standard protocols

Proving these elements will help establish the owner/operator’s liability in the accident that caused your injuries.

Any death on the water, be it at sea, a lake, or a river, must be reported to the Coast Guard (USCG). The USCG will then investigate and prepare an accident report. This report is vital evidence when proving who was responsible for the accident.

Injury Caused By Defective Boats

If your injuries were caused by a defect in the design or the way the boat was manufactured, you might be able to sue the manufacturer. If, for example, the manufacturer designed or installed the rigging of your sailboat negligently. The boom might collapse and hit you in the head and cause brain damage. Your claim for damages would be based on their negligence when building the boat.

Companies Deal With Boating Claims

Consult a Lawyer for a Free Consultation

If you sustain injuries in a boating accident, you will need an experienced boating accident attorney. The law relating to boating accidents is complex, and gathering the right evidence can be challenging.

The boating accident lawyers at Cochran Kroll Associates, P.C. have extensive knowledge of boating and boating accidents. This gives them the expertise to guide you through this challenging process.

Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Thomas has a law degree from the University of Nottingham. He practiced law for 20 years before working in Dubai in the financial sector for 3 years. He now writes on financial and legal topics.



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