Who is Liable in a Boating Accident?
Boating laws differ from laws regarding driving on land, which can make determining liability tricky because what is true in car collisions may now also hold true on the water. Here are a few situations where liability differs and how to navigate them:
Collision with Another Boat
As with many vehicle collisions, both drivers can be at least partially at fault. The accident could have been caused by operator error or machinery/equipment failure. However, there are plenty of factors that determine who is truly to blame, which include:
- Failure to pay attention to surroundings
- Failure to follow posted signs
- Failure to adjust for speed or movement of another vessel
- Drinking and boating
- Improper loading of cargo or passengers
If the operator of one of the boats is guilty of these, they could be more liable for the accident than a driver of a boat who did not display any of these negligent behaviors.
When encountering another boat in Georgia waters, operators must yield to any boat:
- Not under command
- Restricted due to what it is being used for (towing, etc.)
- Engaged in commercial fishing
- That qualifies as a sailboat and is under sail
- Whose movement is constrained by the water depth
Hitting Another Boat’s Wake
Hitting the wake created by another boat can send passengers flying. However, it can be difficult to determine if the fault of any resulting injuries rests on the operator who created the wake, or the operator who hit it. Federal and state boating laws outline safe boating practices that can come into play here.
It is important to abide by all posted speed regulations and respect No-Wake Zones. Boat operators who fail to do this will be at fault if an accident is caused by another boat hitting their wake. In Georgia, it is illegal to jump the wake of another boat, and drivers who do this can be at fault for any resulting injuries.
Hitting Other Objects
Hitting an object, whether it is in the water or on land, partially submerged or not, can cause serious damage to the boat and harm to the passengers. Operators of the boat that has struck the object will be at fault, but they will most likely not be found negligent if they were traveling at a safe speed and following all rules, such as giving a 100-foot berth to non-moving boats, docks, shorelines, swimmers, public areas, and other such obstacles.
Get Representation for Your Atlanta Boating Accident
Make sure you have expert legal representation on your side if you’ve been injured in or experienced property damage because of a boating accident. Contact the attorneys at Kaplan & Lukowski, LLP today by phone at 404-845-0012 or online for your free case consultation.