Any boating accident that results in loss of life is a tragedy, but recently cases of alleged negligence show how badly things can go when crews are not skilled and prepared to deal with emergency situations.
Consider the accident last July in New York that took three young lives after a celebration went wrong aboard an overcrowded boat with 27 passengers and far too few life jackets. Another example is the tourist fatalities aboard a duckboat on the Delaware River, when a crew member was believed to be texting moments before the vessel hit a barge. The wrongful death suit filed by parents of the deceased asserted that crew members were not prepared to deal with a maritime emergency and didn’t react quickly.
There is a difference between an accident like the one recently caused by heavy rains in Guyana and these others where the crews didn’t observe maritime law or safety protocols. And the difference can impact insurance coverage.
According to the United States Coast Guard (USCG), a boating accident occurs any time that someone disappears, is hurt or is killed while boating. The USCG says that over thirty percent of all accidents include a boat driver that has been drinking alcohol. Just as with drivers of automobiles, anyone caught BUI will also face heavy fines or jail time if convicted. They also encounter many situations when accidents occur because boaters lack adequate experience for the situations. To help prevent and reduce boating accidents, the USCG has safety guidelines for boaters and offers courses to improve boating safety and understanding of maritime laws and regulations.
Boating and liability
If you are in control of a boat when an accident occurs, you will most likely be found at fault if you are believed to have acted with negligence. In other words, if you have not acted reasonably, have failed to take adequate precautions, and have failed to follow maritime laws and regulations, you will be found at fault for a boating accident.
If you have caused an accident on the water you may face both civil and criminal litigation. Victims are fully within their rights to sue you just as they could for a car accident. This could include damages to property, medical expenses and more. The state could also make a case against your for being a reckless boat driver, driving under the influence of alcohol, or being grossly negligent. Most boat insurance companies will not cover loss or damages for a boater who is guilty of negligence, driving while intoxicated or operating the boat in an unsafe manner.
Protect yourself and others
To ensure that you are adequately covered in the event of an accident, be certain that you meet the safety standards and regulations where you are boating and understand the terms of your boat insurance policy so that you never take unnecessary risks. Take boating safety courses to learn how to manage in times of disaster or emergency and give yourself – and your passengers – peace of mind.