Who is Liable in a Boating Accident That Occurs in a Marina?

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Boating can be a great way to have fun. There is nothing quite like spending a sunny day on the water with friends. However, boats are not just toys to play with on the water. They are complicated and sophisticated vehicles that require pilots who know what they are doing. Unfortunately, many boat operators are not as careful as they should be on the water and they may cause boating accidents. The kind of law that governs a personal injury lawsuit from a boating accident will depend on where the accident occurred. Determining who is liable will depend on the circumstances of your individual case. Read on to learn more about figuring out liability for boating accidents that occur in marinas from our Florida boating accident attorneys at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A.

Who Should I Sue for a Boating Accident in a Marina?

As with any personal injury lawsuit, determining who you should sue and who is liable will depend on various factors. Things like who owned the boat, who was driving the boat, and the nature of your accident must all be considered. If you are a passenger on a boat that crashes into a dock at the marina, you can obviously sue the driver of the boat for your injuries. However, you might also want to consider including the owner of the marina in your lawsuit. It may not be obvious at the time of the accident, but the driver of the boat may not be liable if the marina is designed or constructed in a way that makes it dangerous to navigate. Waterways that are too narrow to drive a boat through safely might make the marina owner liable rather than the driver.

If the boat accident involved another boat, you have even more people to think about when determining liability. Liability may fall on the driver of the boat you were on, but it could also fall on the owner of the marina, or the driver of the other boat. Also, if the drivers of the boats did not, in fact, own those boats, you can sue the owners for negligent entrustment, according to our Florida Yacht accident attorney.

Determining liability is not always straightforward. In many cases, liability falls on the shoulder of multiple people. The driver of the boat may be liable for negligently operating the boat.  The owner of the boat, however, if they are a different person, may also bear some liability if they entrusted the boat to a driver they knew was not skilled enough to operate it properly. Your first step in determining liability should be to call our Miami Yacht accident attorney.

What if More Than One Person is Liable for a Boating Accident in a Marina?

You may sue more than one defendant for a boat accident in a marina if you believe multiple people are responsible. For maritime tort lawsuits, including personal injury cases sustained in a boating accident in a marina, joint and several liability principles will apply. Generally, joint and several liability refers to when multiple parties may be liable for your injuries, but you can choose to sue only one party for the full extent of your damages.

For example, if you are injured in a boating accident in a marina, perhaps the driver of the boast is 50% liable and the owner of the marina is 50% liable. If you cannot locate the marina owner to serve them notice, you may choose to sue only the driver. The driver then must track down the marina owner and sue them for their share of the damages with the help of a Tampa Boat accident lawyer.

This is important in cases where liability may be spread out over multiple parties and each party’s proportion of liability may not be clear. You can sue only one party, preferably the party most capable of paying, and let them deal with collecting payment from other liable parties.

The Laws Governing Boating Accidents in a Marina

Believe it or not, the law of a coastal state extends some distance across the ocean. Once the state’s authority ends, something called maritime or admiralty law takes over.

Maritime law does not just exist on the high seas, however. It also may govern when a boating accident happens on “navigable water.” A waterway is considered navigable if used in trade, travel, and other commerce using customary water travel methods or trade. To put it more simply, if boats can be used on a waterway for travel or business purposes, it is a navigable waterway. For a boat accident to fall under maritime law, the incident must have a close relationship to maritime commerce or navigation.

If a court deems a waterway not navigable for maritime law purposes, the law of the relevant state will preside over the case. In addition, incidents that occur around boats but not on the waterway may not be covered by maritime law. For example, a slip-and-fall on the dock of the marina would probably not fall under maritime law. It is essential to discuss your case with a Miami maritime injury attorney because different courts have reached different conclusions as to what exactly constitutes a navigable waterway.

Contact Our Maritime Attorney for Boating Accidents that Occur in Marinas for a Consultation

If you have been injured in a boating accident in Florida, please reach out to our Miami boat injury attorney for boating accidents at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. We can help you file a maritime lawsuit for any injuries sustained in a boating accident in a marina. Contact us online or call our office at (305) 204-5369 to schedule a free consultation.


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