Boating Accidents & Liability: Who's Responsible?

Boating is a popular pastime in Ohio and throughout the region, and especially so during the summer months. Whether local residents or tourists take the time to enjoy local lakes and waterways to fish, enjoy water sports, or simply enjoy the great outdoors, they face substantial risks when doing so by boat. Often, these risks are created by individuals and other entities who fail to take reasonable steps in ensuring safety.

At Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP, our Cleveland trial lawyers have focused their professional careers on fighting for the injured and the wronged. This includes victims and families who suffer harm and losses in accidents that could and should have been prevented. Like any personal injury case we handle, those involving boating accidents require meticulous investigation and a great deal of work to determine an underlying cause and who should be held responsible for accidents and injuries.

While victims injured as a result of negligence generally have the right to seek justice and financial compensation for their damages through the filing of a personal injury lawsuit, who that lawsuit is filed against will vary depending on the unique facts and circumstances involved. Because there are many different causes of boating accidents, and many different parties that can be held liable, we discuss a few parties commonly held responsible in these cases below:

  • Another Boat Operator – Statistics show that operator error is the leading cause of boating accidents in the U.S. This includes errors and negligence on the part of other boaters. For example, boat operators who speed, navigate waters recklessly, or fail to pay attention to other boaters or individuals in the water pose significant risks of accidents and injuries. When another boater is to blame for your injuries, they may be held liable through the personal injury case process.
  • Your Boat Operator – Whether you are boating with a friend, family member, or a commercial company, the operator of that boat has a legal obligation to take steps that ensure your safety. Should they fail to uphold this obligations, they can potentially be held liable for your damages.
  • Rental Companies – There are many commercial businesses that stake their claim in recreational boating by renting out vessels (motorized or non-motorized), water sports equipment, and other products used by boaters. By law, these companies also have legal obligations when it comes to ensuring the safety of the products they rent, and the safety of their customers. For example, rental companies may be held liable for injuries that stem from rental vessels that were improperly maintained or which had hazards they knew or should have known about.
  • Product Manufacturers – Under product liability laws, manufacturers of consumer products are obligated to ensure their products function as intended. As such, they can be held liable for injuries that result from defectively designed or manufactured products, or when they fail to warn customers about potential defects or issues associated with their products. Product liability lawsuits may stem from defective boats, boat parts, or recreational boating equipment (such as defective skis or safety gear).

Because every case is unique, our legal team focuses on devoting the personal attention needed to investigate accidents, determine fault and liability, and hold the appropriate at-fault party responsible. Because we focus our practice on representing victims in the civil justice system, we have the depth of experience to help boating accident victims who assert their rights in personal injury cases involving negligence, product liability, and other complex legal issues.

If you would like to learn more about your rights after a boating accident, contact our award-winning legal team at Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP for a FREE and confidential consultation.

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