Boat owners have to take precautionary measures and know how to handle a wide variety of situations to avoid a boat collision.
These include using a proper lookout, using radar if present, and following navigational regulations. Boats move quickly, stop slowly, and can meet unexpectedly, so it is important to understand your responsibilities and those of other boat owners.
Click here for the federal COLREGs.
When to give way
Before leaving dry land, boat owners must know when to give way to each other. Depending on the situation and type of vessel, boats may either be the give-way vessel or the stand-on vessel. Give-way vessels must steer around while the stand-on vessel has the right of way. When meeting head-on, both boats are generally give-way vessels and should steer to the right. Generally, sailboats, rowboats, and canoes are less maneuverable and are considered stand-on vessels.
There are additional rules for overtaking, crossing, and meeting at angles that boaters should familiarize themselves with before hitting the water. Not knowing these rules or failing to follow them could result in a boating accident that leaves someone gravely injured.
Click here a short printout that you can keep on your boat.
Just like automobiles, boaters have to follow the “Rules of the Road” in order to avoid collisions. Failure to follow these rules can result in catastrophic injuries.
Click here for the “Rules of the Road.”
Presumption of fault
It can be difficult to prove that another boat operator was negligent in a collision. To prove negligence, you have to show that the other boat operator violated the standard of care—that he or she failed to act in a reasonably prudent manner as a reasonable person would in a similar situation.
When a collision occurs, maritime law has a number of presumptions about who is at fault. When two ships collide, there is a presumption called the “Pennsylvania Rule.” Under the Pennsylvania Rule, when a boat operator is in violation of a navigation regulation at the time of a collision, he is presumed to be at fault. Similarly, under the “Oregon Rule,” a boat operator is presumed to be at fault if his vessel is moving and strikes a stationary vessel. Under the “Louisiana Rule,” a boat operator is presumed to be at fault if his moving vessel strikes a stationary object.
These presumptions can be very helpful for people injured as a result of boating collisions, and we are very familiar with using them to get justice for boat accident victims.Back to Boating Accidents