Is the Owner of a Boat Responsible for a Passenger’s Injury in Texas?
Boat injury cases often involve injuries to passengers. Some of these cases can involve boating accidents and wrecks where passengers need treatment for traumatic injuries. Other boating injury cases involve accidents aboard a boat, such as slip and falls or overboard accidents. In either case, the question of who is at fault will be important to the victim, especially if they need compensation for their injuries.
In many cases involving dangerous conditions of “unseaworthiness,” a passenger can sue the owner of the boat for injuries. However, if the boat is owned by one company and operated by someone else, that person might be responsible in their place. Lastly, passengers injured in boating accidents can sue whoever caused the injuries, which may actually mean suing a different boat owner or operator.
For help with a boating injury case, call The Queenan Law Firm today. Our Houston boat accident attorneys help injured passengers get compensation for their medical care, lost income, pain, and emotional distress after an accident. For a free consultation and help determining who is at fault in your case, call us today at (817) 476-1797.
Is the Owner of a Boat Responsible for Injuries During a Boat Accident?
The owner of a boat is responsible for upkeep and maintenance on a boat or ship. However, they may be relieved of this duty if they loan the boat to someone else or the boat is operated by a different company. This comes up a lot in cases of rental boats or borrowed speed boats as well as in cases involving commercial shipping accidents.
Boat owners and operators owe their passengers a duty to keep the vessel safe. This means that dangerous conditions on the boat could be the owner’s responsibility. That means that injuries to passengers involving broken railings, floorboards, stairs, or other features on the boat could be the owner’s fault. If other dangerous conditions lead to an injury, that could also be the owner’s fault. This includes conditions such as faulty wiring, sharp fixtures, or even unsafe galley or kitchen appliances that cause injuries.
Operators and Renters
If a different company or individual is responsible for the boat, they could be at fault instead of the owner. For example, many commercial shipping vessels are owned by one company but leased or loaned to another. Speed boats may also be borrowed by other pilots or operators. Sometimes, there will be a legal question as to whether this party was also put at risk by the owner’s dangerous conditions or whether this party essentially takes over the owner’s duty. This is a legal question an experienced Arlington personal injury lawyer can help with.
In cases of boat rentals, the owner often retains responsibility for any unsafe conditions or equipment they failed to repair. There is an expectation that boat rental companies will not hand out dangerous vessels to potentially inexperienced pilots. In these cases, the rental agreement will often dictate which party is responsible, and your attorney can help argue for the boat rental company to take responsibility.
Responsibility for Passenger Injuries in Texas Boating Accidents
Boat owners are typically responsible for injuries that happen aboard a boat, but injuries sustained in a boat crash might be a different party’s fault. In general, only parties who made mistakes that helped contribute to the injuries can be held liable for those injuries. This means that a boat owner could be responsible if they cause the crash or if faulty safety features made the injuries worse, but the pilot of the boat that caused the crash will typically bear the brunt of the fault after a boat accident.
Operators and Pilots
If a boating accident involved only one vessel, that accident can often be pinned on the captain or pilot of that boat. If the pilot crashed into a pier or ran the boat aground through their own negligence, they will typically be held responsible for the passengers’ injuries. If the accident involved two or more vessels, then whichever operator caused the crash will be held liable. Courts often need to hear facts about what happened in the crash to determine who is at fault, just like in any other accident case.
If a boat crash was made worse because of unsafe conditions on the boat, then the owner might share some responsibility for the injuries. For example, if a crash starts a fire on a boat, but the owner did not keep the vessel stocked with a functional fire extinguisher, the owner might be partly responsible for passengers’ burn injuries. While the missing fire extinguisher would not have caused the crash in the first place, it did exacerbate the injuries.
Faulty equipment or damage to a boat could also be part of the cause of a crash. For example, let’s suppose that a boat owner knew the boat’s steering mechanism was damaged. If they did not warn the pilot or get the damage repaired, that faulty steering could have contributed to the crash. Courts could hold the owner responsible for their share of the fault and place the rest of the blame on the pilot’s mistakes if there were any.
Assigning Partial Blame
In many cases, courts will assign partial blame to multiple parties. This means that passengers might obtain partial compensation from the pilot of their boat, the pilot of the other boat, and the owner of either or both vessels. Your Dallas personal injury lawyer can help decide which parties to sue and how much to claim from each party – and then the court can make the final decision.
Call Our Texas Boating Injury Lawyers
If you were injured as a passenger on a boat or ship, call The Queenan Law Firm for help. Our attorneys represent passengers in all types of boating accidents and injuries, whether commercial or private. For help, call us at (817) 476-1797 and set up a free consultation.