With numerous lakes and beaches, boating is a popular form of transportation and recreation in New Jersey. Unfortunately, many people don’t take safety as seriously as they should when on a boat. Boating carries unique risks and liabilities. When boat captains and passengers aren’t careful, tragic injuries can happen due to negligence.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported 135 boating accidents with nine deaths across New Jersey in one recent year. Negligence is often the cause of injuries in New Jersey boating accidents. If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, the New Jersey legal team at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. can help you hold any potentially liable parties accountable for their negligence.
We have over 40 years of experience handling a wide variety of personal injury cases and are known throughout New Jersey for our aggressive representation on behalf of our clients. Our legal team has recovered more than $800 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients. Contact our office for a free initial consultation to learn more about how our New Jersey boating accident lawyers can help you.
Who’s Liable in an NJ Boat Accident?
Several parties could be liable for a boating accident, depending on how it happened.
Some potentially liable parties in boat accidents are:
The boat’s operator — If the operator was impaired, distracted, or otherwise negligent, they could be held liable for an accident.
The boat’s owner — The boat owner can be held liable for an accident if they were negligent, such as by allowing someone who is impaired to operate the boat or not making sure the boat was equipped with the required safety gear.
Other passengers — If you were injured due to a negligent passenger, they could be held partly liable for your boating accident injuries.
The boat’s manufacturer — Manufacturers can be held liable for a boating accident if a mechanical defect with the vessel caused the accident.
Dockworkers — If the accident was caused by a lack of proper maintenance on the vessel, the dockworkers responsible for maintaining the boat could be found partly liable for the accident.
Compensation Available in New Jersey Boating Accident Cases
Between physical injuries, psychological effects, and medical expenses, a boating accident can cost you in many ways. By filing a boat accident lawsuit, you may be able to recoup compensation for the following:
Lost wages and reduced future earning potential
Pain and suffering
Damaged personal property, such as your vessel
A boating accident attorney can review the details of your case, collect evidence, and determine who is responsible. They will also be able to argue your case in court and help you seek compensation for your boating accident injuries.
New Jersey has laws governing what people can and cannot do while boating. These laws are similar to traffic regulations for cars. Here are some of the state’s key boating regulations, according to the New Jersey State Police Boating Safety Manual:
Operating ages — You must be at least 13 years old to operate a boat in New Jersey. After completing an approved boating safety course, anyone ages 13 to 15 may operate a vessel that is powered by an electric motor or measures 12 feet or longer with less than 10 HP. If you’re 16 or older, you can operate a power vessel if you have completed a boating safety course and have a boating safety certificate. If you were born before 1979, you can operate any power vessel, but you’ll need to complete the boating safety course and have a boating safety certificate to operate a personal watercraft, such as a jet ski.
Safety devices — All boats in New Jersey must have an approved personal flotation device (PFD) for everyone on the boat. All children under age 12 must wear a PFD. The manual also outlines which vessels are required to have certain types of safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers.
Accidents — If you’re in a boating accident, you must help anyone else involved if it won’t cause further injuries or property damage. You must exchange names and information for the vessel of everyone involved. It’s required to report any boating accidents that result in disappearance, injury, death, or more than $500 in property damage to the closest New Jersey State Police, Marine Law Enforcement station.
Speed limits — You must maintain a safe speed and avoid putting anyone else in danger. You must slow down when passing certain hazards and tight spots.
Boating under the influence — You are not allowed to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. The owner or operator of a vessel also is not allowed to let anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs operate the vessel. The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for operating a boat is 0.08 percent, the same as the legal limit for drivers.
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Some of the most common causes of boating accidents in New Jersey include the following:
Operating a boat while impaired is just as dangerous as driving a car while impaired. Operators who are drunk or under the influence of drugs will have a harder time recognizing oncoming hazards. They are also more prone to speed and may misjudge the distance between their boat and other objects around them.
Passengers on a boat can injure themselves or others if they don’t take proper precautions. They can slip and fall if they’ve been drinking or not paying attention when interacting with other passengers. A rowdy passenger could also cause an accident by distracting the boat’s operator at the wrong time.
Boat operators can’t afford to be distracted on the water. They need to watch for other vessels, underwater objects, and other hazards. If they let themselves become distracted, an accident is much more likely.
Water and other liquids on the floor of a boat make it more likely that someone will lose their footing, causing them to fall overboard or land hard on the deck.
Lack of proper safety gear
Boat operators need to be prepared for sudden accidents. Someone could drown after a collision if the vessel doesn’t have enough life jackets. Boats should also be equipped with an emergency radio or another way to call for help in the event of an accident.
Operating a boat is much different from driving a car. Boats are longer, heavier, and take much longer to turn. Boat operators who speed, make unsafe turns, or are otherwise reckless can lose control of the vessel and cause an accident.
Hitting another boat or underwater object
An operator who’s distracted, behaving recklessly or operating a vessel while impaired might hit an object underwater because they couldn’t see it in time. Negligent operators sometimes cause accidents by passing too close to another vessel, leading to a collision.
Lack of proper maintenance
Boats need regular maintenance to keep everyone on board as safe as possible. If the vessel isn’t well maintained, critical components could break or fail in an emergency situation.
Talk to a Knowledgeable Boating Accident Lawyer in New Jersey Today
Were you injured on a boat in New Jersey? If so, your first call should be to a New Jersey personal injury law firm with experience handling these types of cases. At Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., we have a team of over 25 personal injury lawyers ready to help you seek fair boating accident compensation if someone else’s negligence has harmed you. Contact our New Jersey boating accident attorneys today for a free initial consultation.
The Consumer's Guide to New Jersey Personal Injury Claims
What do you do next after you have been hurt by another? Could you make mistakes that end up costing you a full and fair recovery for all of your losses? You can find these rules and more in attorney Garry R. Salomon’s The Consumer’s Guide to New Jersey Personal Injury Claims.
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