Who Is Liable in a Boating Accident?

In a boating accident, one of the following parties can be held liable: the operator of the boat, the owner, the manufacturer, the rental company, or even a passenger. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are cases when, due to unforeseen circumstances, liability can be difficult or even impossible to determine.


There are more than 12,000,000 boats registered in the US and each year more than 4,700 recreational boating accidents take place, causing the death of more than 700 individuals. Even if boating accidents are not fatal in most cases, passengers can still suffer severe, debilitating injuries ranging from fractures to spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries and lost limbs. There are many factors that can cause a boating accident, from operator negligence to malfunctioning equipment and harsh weather conditions. When boating accidents happen, injured victims have the right to file financial claims against responsible parties. However, determining liability in boating accidents is often difficult and requires the investigation of experts, as water tends to ruin the traces of the accident, making the accident reconstruction quite challenging.

Some examples of parties that might be held responsible for boating accidents include:

  • The operator of the boat: he/she failed to provide reasonable safety for the passengers, he/she was intoxicated while operating the vessel, he/she engaged in reckless operations or disregarded boating laws;
  • A passenger of the boat who acted in a reckless manner, or prevented the operator from fulfilling his or her duty;
  • The operator of the boat who failed to interfere with the passengers' reckless behavior, although he knew about it;
  • The owner of the boat, if he/she knowingly loaned the boat to someone who was not qualified to operate it;
  • The manufacturer of the boat, in case the accident resulted from a manufacturing defect;
  • The rental company, in case they failed to fix maintenance problems.

Another issue boating accident victims should consider is that boating injury cases are subject to the maritime law rather than state personal injury laws. That means they will be handled differently and settled according to other laws than terrestrial personal injury cases.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boat accident due to someone’s negligence, you should seek an experienced attorney right away. If a boat operator is at fault and does not have insurance, or adequate liquefiable assets, you could face challenges securing your claim to damages. An attorney has the necessary skills to help get the compensation you deserve.

If you suffered a boating accident on Florida waters, call our Miami based office at 305.416.9805, we can help you file a claim.

For questions and free legal advice to help individuals please call us

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.