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Handling personal injury claims for Carlsbad, Oceanside, San Marcos and beyond.
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Attorney Jared Pursley
Carlsbad Personal Injury LawyerBlogBoat AccidentBreaking Down a Boat Accident Claim

Breaking Down a Boat Accident Claim


The Emerald State has one of the lowest boat operator licensing requirements in the country. A 12-year-old can operate a powered watercraft in Washington State. Frequently, novice boaters assume that driving a boat is like driving a car. But cars have brakes and tires, so they can stop quickly and turn sharply. Boats float, so they cannot do these things.

Many boaters are unprepared to operate watercraft, and they’re also unprepared to supervise passengers. Rolling, pitching, and wet decks are serious fall hazards. Fall victims on boats could seriously hurt themselves, even if they don’t go in the water, and the nearest doctor is usually many miles away.

When boat operators or passengers are injured in collisions or other incidents, a Carlsbad boat accident lawyer obtains the compensation these victims, and their families, need and deserve. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

First Party Liability

In terms of collisions, inexperience doesn’t excuse negligence. All boaters have the same duty of care, no matter how much experience they have. In California, boaters breach their duty of care when they operate watercraft:

  • Aggressively: As mentioned, boats don’t stop on a dime or turn quickly. So, a little excessive speed makes watercraft almost impossible to control. Speed multiplies the risk of a crash, and it also multiplies the force in a collision, according to Newton’s Second Law.
  • While Impaired: Boating and drinking is a way of life for many people. The impairing effects of alcohol, which begin with the first drink, include slow motor skills and clouded judgment. Boaters must be at 100 percent, physically, mentally, and otherwise, in order to safely operate powered watercraft.

Multitasking boat operators often neglect their operational duty of care. They also often neglect their responsibilities to oversee passengers. In California, the duty of care in this area varies, according to several factors, such as the risk of harm, the ease of preventing that harm, and the owner’s knowledge of a safety hazard.

Collisions, falls, and other such incidents often cause catastrophic (life-threatening) injuries. The average injury-related medical bill in such situations exceeds $100,000.

Victims badly need financial compensation to pay these bills. They deserve this money because they must pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward after an injury.

Third Party Liability

Boat owners often lease their vehicles to boat operators who, as mentioned, usually have little experience. So, the negligent entrustment rule almost always applies in these cases. Owners are liable for damages if they allow incompetent people to use their vehicles, and these incompetent people cause injury.

Because of the low licensing standards, an Oceanside personal injury lawyer usually argues that non-owners are inherently incompetent. That’s especially true if they haven’t operated watercraft previously, or if they have only operated a different type of watercraft.

Vicarious liability is very important for boat crash victims. Usually, tortfeasors (negligent boaters) have limited, if any, insurance. Third-party liability gives victims easy access to an additional source of recovery.

California is one of the only states with a vicarious liability law. Under Vehicle Code Section 17150, every owner of a motor vehicle is liable for injury or damage caused by negligent operation of vehicle by any person using a vehicle with permission, express or implied, of the owner.

Count on a Detail-Oriented San Diego County Lawyer

Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Oceanside, contact the Pursley Law Firm. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.



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