Who May Be Liable to Pay for Your Injuries in a Boating Accident?

New Jersey is fortunate to have excellent venues for boating, from the Delaware Water Gap to the Jersey Shore. But with the enjoyment and excitement of this form of recreation comes significant risks. During the five-year period from 2018 through 2022, New Jersey saw an average of 77 boating accidents per year, according to a U.S. Coast Guard study. For accident victims and their families, the question is who to look to for compensation for injuries suffered.

Boating accidents can lead to numerous injuries ranging from relatively minor all the way to fatal. Depending on the nature of the accident, fault could be attributed to one party or might be shared. Here are some of the parties who could bear legal liability following a mishap on the water:

  • Boat owner — An owner or lessor could be liable if they failed to provide for reasonable safety of passengers and/or did not fully comply with state and federal regulations. The owner might also be responsible if they loaned their boat to someone inexperienced and that person caused a crash.
  • Boat operator — The pilot is responsible for driving the boat properly and for seeing to the safety of all aboard. A commercial boat owner or operator that employs the pilot can be vicariously liable for his or her negligence, such as driving while intoxicated.
  • Boat manufacturer — Liability may lie with the manufacturer of the boat or any defective parts or systems that contributed to an accident or injuries. For example, a passenger falls off a jet ski due to a lack of back support and is severely injured in the fall.
  • Boat rental company — These companies have a duty to maintain their vessels and to have enough life jackets on board for all passengers. They must also take care not to rent out their boats to minors.
  • Boat passengers — A passenger may have been drunk or may have behaved recklessly, interfering with the pilot’s ability to drive safely. The misconduct of one passenger may directly injure another.

Compensation from insurance may or may not be available to those injured in boating accidents. New Jersey does not require private boat owners to carry insurance, so an accident victim may have to get compensation directly from the owner. On the other hand, businesses that operate or rent watercraft routinely carry insurance. The insurers for various parties will generally decide how to apportion provable losses between them.

If insurance is nonexistent or inadequate, the injured party or the family of a fatal accident victim can file a personal injury lawsuit against one or more of the parties involved. A qualified New Jersey boating accident lawyer can help you pursue a claim with the goal of maximizing recovery from all possible sources.

At Seigel Law in Ridgewood, we have wide experience obtaining financial compensation for New Jersey watercraft accident victims. Call our office at 201-444-4000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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