Pedal boats are small recreational floating vessels that use foot pedals to power them rather than sails or engines. A boat usually seats 2-4 people who operate the pedals while seated in the boat. Their small size, slow speeds, and limited movement can expose them to various injury and accident risks.
A pedal boat’s greatest danger is if it capsizes, which can trap the boaters, submerging them and exposing them to drowning risks. Accidents can also include:
- Collisions with other pedal boats
- Being struck by other faster, larger boats or sea vessels
- Collisions with rocks, shore cliffs, or other stationary objects
- Injuries resulting from overexertion due to the pedaling
- Accidents involving weather conditions
- Accidents or mishaps due to pedal boat defects or failures
Who Can be Held Liable for Pedal Boat Accidents?
Most of the time, pedal boats are used in public areas where they can be rented for use in a limited area. Pedal boat users are often accompanied (but not always) by a guide or instructor when using the boats. Rental conditions often require boat renters to sign a liability waiver to release the rental company from liability in the event of an accident.
Under certain circumstances, the rental company can still be held liable. If a guide acts negligently and allows boaters to travel into dangerous situations, they might be responsible for any accidents or injuries. Additionally, the rental company could be held liable if it rented out boats that were dangerous to use or in need of repairs.
Lastly, manufacturers of pedal boats can be held liable if injuries occur to users due to a product defect. An example of this is if there is an issue with the boat’s design that makes it prone to sinking or capsizing.
Are There any Legal Remedies for Pedal Boat Accidents and Injuries?
Pedal boat accidents and liability issues can be complex matters. They often require legal action to resolve any disputes involved in the incidents fully. In such lawsuits, the legal remedy usually involves a monetary damages award to compensate the injured party for their losses. The damages award may cover medical/hospital bills, surgery or therapy costs, and lost wages.
When a faulty product is involved, the manufacturer will likely recall the product. If the defect injured many people, class action lawsuits might follow.
What Are Some Injuries That Result from Sports and Recreational Activity Accidents?
Personal injury refers to any physical damage caused by another person. Sports and recreational accidents can cause mild to severe injuries, depending on the nature and speed of the activity.
These injuries include:
- Cuts and bruises
- Simple to severe strains and sprains
- Broken bones
Multiple people can be injured simultaneously in some sports and recreational accidents. This can occur, for example, when equipment fails.
Are These Injuries Considered Sports Injuries?
Injuries are considered sports injuries if incurred by a person participating in a sporting event.
Sports injuries are divided into two categories:
A traumatic injury is a strike or blow. An overuse injury ensues from repeated use of a body part.
What Is the Assumption of Risk Doctrine?
The assumption of risk doctrine asserts that participants who willingly partake in a sporting activity cannot hold others liable for their injuries if those injuries happened during the game or while participating in the sport. When the injured party chose to participate, they willingly assumed the risk of potentially being injured by their co-participants.
Assumption of risk is commonly utilized as a defense in most personal injury and negligence lawsuits. The plaintiff cannot recover damages from the defendant if they have assumed such a risk. Injury to the plaintiff can occur even if the defendant was negligent or reckless.
To demonstrate the assumption of risk doctrine, the defendant must show that the plaintiff was aware of the danger involved in the conduct or activity. A defendant must demonstrate that the injured party was aware that the sport could cause injuries in a sports injury lawsuit.
Furthermore, the defendant must demonstrate that the plaintiff accepted the risk voluntarily. Through an agreement, such as a consent waiver, or implied by their actions and words.
Typically, it is also necessary to establish that the danger was obvious or that the conduct was innately unsafe.
Can I Sue for Injuries Sustained in a Boating Accident?
Each year, more people are injured or killed in boating accidents. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that there were 5,265 boating accidents last year, causing property damage of approximately 62.5 million dollars. Boating accidents associated with recreational boating activities are included in these statistics, but not accidents that may not have been reported.
Various water vessels can be involved in boating accidents, including yachts, houseboats, cruise ships, and duck boats. Boating accidents will increase as more consumers own boats. The number of lawsuits involving boating accident claims will also likely increase as a result.
There are generally four conditions that lead to a boating accident:
- An individual is hurt, disappears, or dies during a boat outing or while onboard a boat: This means that a boat does not necessarily need to be moving to be part of a boating accident.
- Alternatively, a boating accident may also happen if a boat is damaged or causes damage to other property during an incident: In this case, the boating accident may or may not involve injuries.
Some typical examples of injuries that you may sustain in a boating accident include:
- Loss of limb;
- Broken bones;
- Scrapes or lacerations on your arms, legs, or other body parts;
- Spine, neck, and head injuries;
- Tissue and muscle damage; and
- Water in your lungs or drowning.
It is important to note that the above list is not all-inclusive of the types of damages that can result from a boating accident. As well as the size of the boat, the speed it was traveling before the accident, the weather conditions, how many people were on board, and so on, many other factors can affect these kinds of injuries.
For further information about boating accidents and whether you may be able to recover for property damage or injuries you sustained in a boating accident, you should speak to a local personal injury lawyer immediately.
What Are Some Other Common Boat Rental Accidents and Injuries?
The most common boating accident is a collision with another boat or sea vessel. Other types of boating accidents include:
- Collisions with a dock or pier.
- Collisions with rocks or cliffs.
- Running aground on a sandbar.
Muscle and joint injuries, head traumas, and drownings are also common boat rental injuries. Legal action may be available if any of these occur during a boat rental excursion.
Who Is Responsible for Injuries Sustained from a Boat Rental?
Usually, the rental company will be held responsible for injuries sustained from boat rentals. If they have hired an independent instructor or guide, you may wish to inquire about their liability under vicarious liability rules.
Almost all boat rental organizations require their patrons to sign a waiver or a release clause. The rental company is released from liability for injuries sustained while operating a rented boat. Patrons assume all risks associated with boating trips, including injuries.
It may be difficult to recover damages if you have signed such a release clause. In spite of this, damages can sometimes be recovered for a variety of reasons, including:
- Negligence: The injured party must demonstrate that they had a duty to ensure their safety and that this breach of duty directly caused injury to the plaintiff. This often involves establishing that the rental company knew of unsafe conditions but failed to address them
- Improper licensing of staff: The rental company may be responsible if they have hired unlicensed persons to perform tasks that require a special certification
- Failure to warn or advise: The boat rental company should thoroughly recommend the risks involved in boating to patrons. These are usually stated in the waiver or release clause. If no waiver is signed, the patron should still be informed of such risks.
In some cases, recovery from physical injuries is reduced or completely restricted if the injured party contributed to their injury in any way. A court may reduce monetary relief if the patron fails to comply with instructions regarding boat operation and safety.
Be sure to observe instructions and take steps to minimize risks to your safety and those around you.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Pedal Boat Accident Lawsuit?
Pedal boat accidents and injuries can be serious. You may need to hire a personal injury lawyer in your area if you need help with a pedal boat accident claim. A lawyer can provide legal advice and guide you through the court process.