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Who is Liable in a Boating Accident?

July 8, 2021 By John Torgenson

Boat Accident Liability in Arizona

Boat accidents often result in significant injuries for those involved, and it is critical to determine liability so that injury victims can recover compensation. However, determining liability in the aftermath of a boat crash can be challenging. This process can be hampered by investigations that are more difficult to complete due to the simple nature that these incidents occur in the water. Here, our Phoenix boat accident lawyers want to discuss who may be liable in the aftermath of the boat accident in Arizona as well as some of the steps that can be taken to determine liability.

Who Could be Liable in These Incidents?

Data available from the US Coast Guard shows us that there were 4,168 total boat accidents during the latest reporting year. Out of these incidents, there were 2,559 injuries and 613 fatalities. Across the country, there was a fatality rate of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational water vessels. 

In the aftermath of a boating accident, there may be various parties who can be held liable for the injuries or fatalities that occur. This can include the operator of the boat, the owner of the boat, the manufacturer of the vessel, a rental company, or even a passenger onboard the vessel.

  • The operator of the boat. Boat operators have a tremendous responsibility on the water. They have a duty to ensure that the boat is operated safely and that passengers on board do not behave in a reckless manner. Boat operators must also have an understanding of all boating laws as well as how to maneuver out of potentially dangerous situations. Additionally, all boat operators must ensure that there are lifejackets on board for every passenger.
  • The boat owner. Boat owners are often not the ones operating the vessels, but this does not prevent them from being held liable in the event an accident occurs. If a boat owner knowingly loans about to somebody who is not qualified to operate it, or if they fail to ensure that their employees are properly trained, they could be held liable. Additionally, if owners fail to regularly inspect and maintain their vessel, they could be held liable in the event an accident occurs.
  • A boat passenger. There are times when boat passengers act in a reckless manner that prevents the boat owner or operator from fulfilling their duty of care. In these cases, the boat passenger may be held liable in the event they cause an accident.
  • The boat manufacturer. If a boat company or manufacturer supplied a vessel that was defective or faulty in some way, they could be held liable if the defect causes a crash and injuries.
  • A rental company. In some cases, rental companies are the ones responsible for being the middleman in between a boat owner and those who want to use the boat on a regular basis. Rental companies may have a duty to ensure that the vessels are properly inspected and maintained and that they are operated by those who are trained to do so.

Additional Boat Information: Arizona Boating Safety Tips

How is Liability Determined After a Boat Crash in Arizona?

Liability after a boat accident can be difficult to determine. These incidents must be investigated by law enforcement officials, insurance carriers, and attorneys in order for liability to be properly determined. These investigations can include gathering various types of evidence, including photo or video surveillance, statements from eyewitnesses, boat owner or operator training and safety logs, weather condition reports from the time the incident occurred, and more.

A skilled Arizona boat accident lawyer will have the resources necessary to handle all of this on behalf of an injury victim. They will also ensure that injury victims are evaluated by trusted medical professionals who can help calculate the total expected losses.

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John Torgenson

After high school, John attended the University of Utah, graduating in 2001. John then attended his dream school, Notre Dame Law School, where he graduated, with honors, in 2004. John is licensed to fight in court for real people in the State of Arizona, the United States Federal District Court of Arizona, and the 9th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

Before establishing what is now Torgenson Law, John practiced in the litigation group at Fennemore Craig, the oldest law firm in Arizona, and one of the largest firms in the Southwest. Having practiced at Fennemore Craig in both the defense and plaintiff’s practice areas gives John a complete perspective of the litigation process, and valuable insight into how to efficiently and effectively advance his clients’ interests. His unique and balanced background enhances his credibility with defense lawyers, insurers, and defendants as well as with judges and arbitrators.