Who is Liable for a Boating Accident?

Boating on Lake Ontario and in the Fingers Lakes region is a popular recreational activity for residents of Rochester, but boating can also be dangerous. Whenever you spend time on a boat, it is important to understand the risks of boat accident injuries and to know who may be liable in the event of a serious injury or death. Liability for boating accidents in New York State can vary depending upon the specific circumstances under which the accident and injury occurs. An experienced Rochester boating accident lawyer can evaluate your case for you today and help you to seek compensation for your losses. In the meantime, the following information can help to clarify different types of liability in boating accidents in Upstate New York.

Negligent Vessel Operator

In most boating accident cases, a negligent vessel operator is liable for the accident and resulting injuries. According to data from the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol use and intoxicated boating is the leading cause of boating accident fatalities in the U.S., and boating accident injuries result most frequently from the following factors:

  • Operator inattention;
  • Operator inexperience;
  • Improper lookout; and
  • Excessive speed.

In other words, operator negligence is among the leading causes of boat accidents and injuries. You might be wondering how operator negligence will affect your claim if the boat operator you sue alleges that you were also partially at fault for the accident. Under New York’s contributory negligence law, a plaintiff can recover damages even if that plaintiff was partially at fault (and even if a jury ultimately determines that the plaintiff was more at fault than the defendant). However, the plaintiff’s damages award will be reduced by their percentage of fault.

Defective Boat Components

The U.S. Coast Guard identifies machinery failure as another leading cause of boating accidents, which can result from defects in the boat’s machine or one of the machine components. In circumstances where a defect caused a boating accident, it may be possible to hold the designer, manufacturer, or retailer accountable.

Negligent Boat Mechanic

Sometimes machinery failures on boats can result from a negligent mechanic’s work. When a boat mechanic fails to repair or maintain a vessel, that mechanic, or the mechanic business that employs the specific mechanic, may be liable for any injuries that occur.

Owner of the Boat

If you are renting or borrowing a boat and a mechanical issue results in a crash, the owner of the boat may be liable if the accident happened because of a failure to properly maintain the vessel. In these types of circumstances, you could be eligible to file a claim against the owner of the boat. The owner may be a boating rental company on Lake Ontario or one of the Finger Lakes, or an individual owner of the vessel.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Rochester

As warm weather arrives and more people are enjoying boating, it is important to remember the risks involved. In addition, it is essential to understand how boating accident liability works and to know that one of our experienced Rochester boating accident attorneys can assist you with a claim for financial compensation. Contact King Law to learn more about how we can assist you.


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