With easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and beautiful lakes, it is only natural for residents of New Jersey to take part in recreational boating. However, whether using boats, jet skis, or alternative watercraft, these activities carry unique risks and considerations to operators and riders. In 2019 alone, over one hundred boating accidents occurred in the state according to the United States Coast Guard, with four individuals dying and another sixty-five suffering serious injury.
Fortunately, if you are injured in a boating accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. At first, you may think that you only need your health insurance policy and a personal boat insurance policy to cover your expenses. However, if your expenses exceed what is covered by your insurance, you have the legal right to pursue a liable party for just compensation after an accident.
WHO SHOULD YOU SUE?
It is important that you understand who you are suing and why they are responsible for your injuries. Before proceeding with legal action, go over the facts of your case with an attorney to determine who might be held responsible for your injuries. The following six questions serve as an excellent starting point for pinpointing who might be liable:
- Was the operator irresponsible in handling their vessel?
- Was the operator boating under the influence?
- Was the accident caused by someone’s human error?
- Was the boat seaworthy and properly equipped with safety gear?
- Was the boat defective in some manner?
- Was the operator trained and licensed?
Any of these details can be invaluable for proving the liability of another party, whether that be an operator, an owner, a manufacturer, or even a public entity. While you might not recall all of these facts from memory, our experienced attorneys can assist you in acquiring police reports and insurance records to understand your case.
DOES A HOMEOWNER’S POLICY REPLACE BOAT INSURANCE?
We have often seen homeowner’s policies which include coverage for boating accident expenses. As such, many boat owners think that they do not need a separate boat liability policy to cover personal injury expenses in an accident. However, homeowner’s policies are not required to cover liability for personal injuries, and this can often affect whether a homeowner’s policy or a boat liability policy will provide compensation in a case.
Such a dispute arose in Farmers’ v. Allstate, in which a liable party for a drowning death that occurred while their boat was grounded had both a homeowner’s policy and a boat liability policy. The homeowner’s policy specifically excluded liability coverage for bodily injury caused by use of the owner’s boat. This exclusion was applied to the accident because the liable party reasonably understood that their boat liability policy would cover an accident and because the death only occurred as a result of the boat’s use for swimming.
In our experience, it is best that you collect any and all relevant insurance information from liable parties due to situations like Farmers’ v. Allstate. We can help figure out what insurance policies a boat owner holds and which might apply to your case as a result of the accident.
If you or a loved one was injured by a boating accident, contact Rosenblum Law for a free, no-obligation consultation.