A speedboat is a motorized boat that has been outfitted with a motor for high speed and racing purposes. There are some speedboats, or motorboats, that can reach speeds of up to 150 mph or higher.
Because of this, speedboats are typically reserved for private use or competition on special courses. Speedboat accidents, however, may occur and may lead to serious injuries or property damage.
Common examples of speedboat accidents include:
- Collisions with other boats or water vehicles;
- Collisions with swimmers and other persons in the water; and
- Accidents involving property on the shore.
A speedboat accident can be very dangerous because of the high speeds that are involved. It is common for a flip to occur if the speedboat lifts above the water and loses contact with it.
In addition, explosions and fires may also occur. Similar to other types of racing accidents, injuries may include:
- Injuries to the:
- Injuries to other areas of the body;
- Broken bones;
- Burns; and
- Other serious conditions.
Who Can be Held Liable for a Speedboat or Motorboat Accident?
There are several different parties that may be held liable for injuries that are sustained in a boating accident. Similar to car accident lawsuits, the facts of each particular case will be used to determine which parties may be held liable for the boating accident.
Common examples of parties that may be held liable when a boating accident occurs include the following:
- The captains or drivers of the other boats that were involved in the boating accident;
- The manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of the boat if the accident was potentially caused by a flawed boat design or a defective part that was used to assemble the boat;
- Any boat crew members or passengers whose conduct may have caused the boating accident;
- The owner of the other boat if they lent or permitted another individual to captain the boat who they knew or should have known was not qualified to operate it;
- The individual or entity who is in charge of maintaining the other boat; and/or
- The rental or recreational company that allowed the individuals in the other boat to temporarily use it.
As noted above, the facts of each individual case will determine the categories of parties who can be held accountable for the damages that result from a boating accident. Common examples of ways in which a boating accident may occur include, but are not limited to:
- Colliding with another water vessel;
- Crashing into a boat dock;
- Operating a watercraft in a negligent manner;
- Disregarding boat maintenance duties;
- Distracting the driver or captain while the boat is in motion;
- Operating the boat while impaired by alcohol or an illegal substance; and
- Renting a boat that contains defective boat parts, for example, if the boat engine dies or its gas tank leaks.
In the majority of cases, a competitive speedboat event will require the participants to sign liability waivers. In these waivers, the participants agree not to hold certain parties liable for accidents that occur during the normal course of the competition.
Liability for speedboat accidents, however, may still be found based upon several different legal theories. For example, the manufacturer or distributor of a speedboat may be held liable for an injury or accident if it was caused by a product defect, such as a design defect or a manufacturing defect.
The driver of a speedboat may be held liable for an injury or accident if it was caused by negligence. This may include operating the boat recklessly in an area where there were many swimmers or slower vessels.
Liability for a violation may also occur if a boat was found to be speeding above the accepted water speed limits or if a driving under the influence, or DUI, issue was involved. In certain cases, a boat rental company may be held liable for an incident if they were negligent in the care or upkeep of their boating vessels.
Even if they are participating in a race or other type of competitive event, crew members and other personnel may be held liable for an accident if there was an issue with the boat that they knew or should have known needed repairing but they failed to do so.
Are You Required to Report a Boating Accident?
There are several situations in which the law may require individuals who are involved in a boating accident to report the incident to the proper authorities. For example, a boating accident will likely have to be reported if any of the following occur:
- The boating accident results in the death of one or more individuals;
- A driver, passenger, or crew member of either boat sustains serious bodily injuries that require immediate medical attention that goes beyond first aid treatment;
- One or more of the boats in the incident completely sink, vanish, or float away;
- A crew member, driver, or passenger a boat involved in an accident disappears in a manner that suggests foul play, serious injury, or death; or
- The damage that occurs to other property or a boat involved in the accident exceeds $2,000.
It is important to note that if reporting a boating accident is required by law, the individual who is filing the report is required to do so within 48 hours of the incident. In addition, if the boating accident is not reported within the required 48 hour period, the individual involved is required to file a report within 10 days from the incident if any of the individuals involved pass away.
In the majority of cases, the forms required to file a boating accident report may be located and downloaded on the United States Coast Guard website. There may also be situations where the local authorities need to be notified as well.
An individual may need to consider reporting a boating accident to their insurance company if:
- They were injured in a boating incident;
- They were responsible for causing a boating incident;
- They caused damage to property or a boat that did not belong to them; or
- Their boat or property was damaged in a boating accident.
Are There any Legal Remedies for a Speedboat Accident?
A speed boating accident and the resulting injuries may be serious and require legal action to fully resolve. In these types of injury cases, a monetary damages award, or a compensatory damages award, is the typical legal remedy.
This compensatory damages award may cover costs and expenses related to the incident, including:
- Hospital bills;
- Medical costs;
- Damaged property expenses;
- Scarring, disfigurement, and other conditions;
- Loss of earning capacity; and
- Various other losses.
In addition, in a case that involves a product defect, there are other remedies that may apply. This may include a product recall or filing a class action lawsuit.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Assistance with a Speedboat Accident Claim?
Because of the high speeds that are involved, a speedboat accident may be highly dangerous and may lead to serious injuries. If you or a loved one has been involved in a speedboat accident, it may be in your best interests to consult with a personal injury lawyer in your area.
Your attorney can review your case, advise you regarding any remedies that may be available to you, and guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit in court. In addition, if you have to appear in the courtroom, your lawyer will provide you with representation during those appearances.