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Boat Liability

By May 17, 2018Advice
Baot Liability

Boat Liability

A Boat Injury Lawyers’ explanation of boat liability.

I got hurt on a boat, what do I do now?  A Boat Injury Lawyers’ explanation of boat liability.


Although boat insurance is not required in Washington State, it is HIGHLY recommended if you are a boat owner.  Boat liability insurance covers individuals who are injured in a boat accident and as a boat owner provides liability coverage if you commit a negligent act.

Washington law states that the owner or operator of a pleasure boat owes to his guest passenger(s)

  • the duty to exercise ordinary or reasonable care to protect him or her from injury;
  • and is answerable for any injury suffered by such passenger on account of the breach of that duty. Zukowsky v. Brown, 79 Wash 2d 586, 488 P.2d 269 (1971).

The Washington State Parks handbook titled, “Adventures in Boating Washington” identifies acts that can be viewed as breaches of reasonable care that apply to vessel operators.

  • Negligent Operation is operating a vessel in a manner that causes danger to the life, limb, property, or rights of any person. This includes:
    • Not paying attention to the operation of the vessel
    • Operating a boat while intoxicated
    • Failing to keep a proper lookout
    • Failing to follow the navigation rules
    • Causing danger from the effects of the vessel’s wake
    • Allowing passengers to ride on the bow, gunwales, or transom of a vessel not equipped with adequate railings to prevent falls overboard

Other considerations that have been found as negligent acts in maritime cases are as follows:

  • The boat operators’ failure to properly steer or control the boat;
  • Operating a boat at an excessive or unsafe speed;
  • Permitting guests to sit or ride in a position of danger;
  • Failure to warn guests of intended maneuver(s); and
  • Failure to warn guests of dangerous conditions (namely an upcoming wake or wave).

If you have been injured in a boating accident call Altman Law Offices at (360) 377-7100 or (253) 761-1000 for a free consultation.  We have handled many boat liability cases and these cases typically involve serious bodily injury and require aggressive representation.

Michael Altman

Author Michael Altman

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