Summer is the perfect time to be out on the water. The weather is great for swimming, skiing, fishing, or just cruising around. But the weather doesn't always stay great, some of those activities can be dangerous, and a few adult beverages can ruin everyone's day. So, how do you stay safe on the water this summer, and what do you do if there's an accident?
Here are three posts from our archives to help you learn about maritime law, prevent boating accidents, and figure out legal liability.
You've probably heard that maritime law can be a little different than normal state or federal statutes. (Hopefully you didn't learn everything you know about maritime law from The Simpsons.)The operation of a watercraft is often regulated under federal admiralty or maritime law, meaning an injury suffered on board a boat or personal watercraft could potentially be governed by different statutes than the typical state laws that apply to most personal injury cases. Maritime law applies to almost all activities that take place on "navigable waters," which encompasses ocean waters, and lakes and rivers that cross state lines or are used for commerce/trade.
As you can probably guess, this list includes not drinking and driving on the water (yes, boating under the influence is a crime), obeying speed and right-of-way directions, and keeping an eye on Mother Nature. But there are also ways to keep a bad situation from getting worse -- so always have plenty of lifejackets on hand, and an emergency plan ready to go.
And if the worst happens, who's responsible? Everyone driving a boat is responsible for operating it in a reasonable way, according to local boating regulations, as well as adhering to the norms on the water. But boat manufacturers and repair shops must also design, build, and maintain boats in order to maximize safety and reduce risk.
If you've been involved in a boating accident, contact an experienced injury attorney in your area to discuss your legal options.