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Who Is Liable for Boating Malfunctions?

October 13, 2023
Boat Accident

Your Rights If You Are Injured Due to a Defective Boat Part

If you are injured in a boating accident, you may wonder who can be held liable. Liability, or legal responsibility, depends on who or what caused the accident. When a boating malfunction causes the accident, there may be multiple parties that can be held liable. It is important to discuss your case directly with an attorney to determine all of your legal options.

Parties That May Be Held Liable for a Boating Malfunction

Liability is not always straightforward after a boating malfunction. In some cases, it may be multiple parties that have some degree of responsibility. 

Potentially liable parties in a boating accident caused by a malfunction:

  • The boat operator - If the operator of the boat was negligent while operating the vessel, causing it to malfunction, they may be liable for resulting damages. Typical negligent acts of a boating operator include:
    • Operating the vessel under the influence of alcohol or other drugs;
    • Failure to have proper safety equipment on board;
    • Operator inattention;

The boat operator may also be held accountable for failing to provide the required safety equipment, such as Coast Guard-approved life jackets for every passenger and crew member.

  • The boat owner - In some instances, the owner of the boat may be held liable. If the owner failed to properly maintain the vessel, causing it to malfunction, they may be held legally responsible for any resulting injuries. A lawyer can help determine if the owner, operator, or both share responsibility for the accident.
  • A passenger on the boat - If a passenger on the boat intentionally did something to make the boat malfunction, they may be legally responsible for your injuries. A passenger may also be liable in the event that they intentionally or negligently injured another passenger.
  • The boat or part manufacturer - If the malfunction was caused by a dangerous or defective part, the manufacturer may be liable for resulting injuries. It may take an in-depth investigation to determine what part caused the boat to malfunction and which manufacturer can be held responsible.
  • A negligent mechanic - If a mechanic failed to properly repair a part or caused a part to become defective, they may be liable for resulting damages.

The most important thing you can do after a boating accident is to seek legal advice. An attorney can help you determine whether you have a valid claim for damages.

Boating Accidents and Partial Responsibility

One of the most common questions people ask if they are involved in a boating accident is whether they can still obtain compensation if they were partially at fault for their injuries. The State of Florida recognizes that injured parties should still be able to obtain compensation even if they were partially to blame for the accident. 

As long as your percentage of the negligence did not exceed 50% as determined by a jury, you may still be able to file a claim for damages against a liable party. Your recovery, however, may be reduced in proportion to your percentage of the fault. 

Contact Our Office to Learn More

At Mase Seitz Briggs, we have over 100 years of collective legal experience. We are unafraid to take cases to trial to get our clients the results they deserve. If you are injured in an accident, you need legal representation you can trust. Contact our office at (844) 627-3529 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Our firm is here to help you and your family after a boating accident. Call now to speak directly with a member of our legal team.

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