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Is it Possible to Sue the Captain of Another Vessel for Injuries Sustained in a Maryland Boating Accident?

Yes. When it comes to boating-related personal injury lawsuits, victims who have been seriously hurt in a maritime mishap on Maryland waterways are allowed by law to file a claim for damages. It may come as a surprise that the state of Maryland ranks ninth in the nation in the frequency of recreational boating accidents. And while there are far fewer sailing-related accidents than, say highway crashes or pedestrian traffic accidents, a person who is seriously injured in a watercraft collision or other on-the-water accident does have legal recourse.

The first step on the journey toward a successful boating accident lawsuit is to establish negligence on the part of the other boater. If you have been hurt in a watercraft accident, seeking compensation from the responsible party(s) begins with proving that the defendant acted negligently. And just like other kinds of personal injury cases, showing negligence entails four elements:

  1. The victim must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a “duty of care.” This duty requires from each of us that we exercise the same ordinary care that any other “reasonably prudent” individual would use under similar circumstances. When it comes to boating accidents, this duty of care includes complying with state boating laws, as well as operating one’s watercraft in a safe manner in accordance with the water and weather conditions at the time of the incident.
  2. The plaintiff and his attorney need to show that the defendant failed to meet the aforementioned duty of care, which as a result, precipitated a breach of said duty. In some instances, this may include a failure to adhere to one or more specific boating laws, such as Maryland’s prohibition against operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  3. The defendant’s breach must be shown to be the “direct cause” of the plaintiff’s injuries. This is to say, the Plaintiff needs to prove that he or she would not have sustained injury had it not been for the defendant’s failure in his or her duty of care to others on the water.
  4. Finally, the plaintiff must provide evidence of the damages that he or she suffered as a result of the defendant’s negligent actions. Such evidence is often proof in the form of hospital, doctor or nursing home invoices. Among the other types of compensation that an injured person can possibly recover, the court may be shown evidence of lost income due to the victim’s inability to return to work for a period of time following the accident. In cases involving a fatal sailing accident, the victim’s family may be able to bring a wrongful death claim against the responsible party(s) seeking compensation for loss of their loved one’s love, companionship and/or financial support.

With nearly 2,700 square miles of beautiful lakes, rivers and inland waterways, Maryland ranks fifth in the United States when it comes to the ratio of water-to-land area. As a result, Maryland residents surely benefit from a myriad of watercraft recreation opportunities. However, the flipside of this means that there are greater chances for potential injury or death on Maryland’s waterways.

The legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, understands that even the most conscientious Maryland boating enthusiast can find him or herself involved in an unexpected maritime injury accident. Simply operating your own speedboat, skiff, sailboat or cabin cruiser safely and following all the rules will not insulate you from the negligent actions of another careless boater.

Because it is sometimes impossible to avoid being involved in an accident due to another captain’s poor watercraft operation or faulty and unsafe navigation, the law provides for injured individuals to collect damages following a serious waterway accident. Here is a list of some of the common causes for Maryland boating mishaps:

  • Excessive Speedboat Wake
  • Passenger or Water Skier Error
  • Operator Error
  • Alcohol or Drug Use
  • Faulty or Inoperative Equipment
  • Speed Too High for Conditions
  • Operation in Hazardous Waters or Weather Conditions
  • Lack of Proper Lookout or Inattentive Observer
  • Erratic Jet Ski Operation

Please be aware that lawsuits arising from personal injury accidents on Maryland waterways will likely be governed — in whole or in part — by federal maritime statutes, which often dictate a different legal strategy than similar claims that occur on dry land. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we have helped guide many Maryland residents through what can often be a complex legal process following an injury-involved boating accident.

Our seasoned personal injury attorneys are ready, willing and able to assist you with your personal injury claim. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of a negligence-related boating accident, please don’t hesitate to contact our law offices to arrange a free, no-obligation legal consult with one of our Maryland sailing accident professionals.

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