Can I make a boat accident claim?

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As we head into summer, it’s the perfect time to take to the water and enjoy many types of recreational boating activities, from sailing and motor boating to kayaking, paddleboarding and rowing. Many people will also be taking a ferry trip or a cruise as part of their holiday plans.

But what happens if something goes wrong?

Figures from the Maritime Accident Investigation Branch reported 1,530 marine accidents and incidents in 2021, including 49 incidents involving recreational crafts. There were also sadly 11 fatal accidents involving leisure vessels, including kayaks, motorboats and dinghies.

If you are injured while out on a boat in an accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to claim injury compensation.

Causes of boating accidents

Common causes of boating accidents include:

  • Boats colliding with one another
  • Boats colliding with stationary objects while travelling at speed
  • Being hit by a boat or dragged underwater while swimming
  • Slipping, tripping, or falling due to a wet surface or other unsafe objects
  • Boat accidents due to operators being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning from main engines, generators, heaters, and cooking appliances in enclosed spaces
  • Poor maintenance of boats
  • Failing to become accustomed to the boat before sailing
  • Being hit by objects within the boat such as the boom
  • Falling overboard
  • Failing to use a kill cord correctly

How does the law protect you from boating accidents?

Boat operators and skippers have a duty of care to passengers and staff, and they must make sure their vessel is operated safely. If an accident happens and someone is injured because of their negligence, they are liable to pay compensation.

The law can become complicated, depending on where the accident occurred. If it happened in British waters, then British maritime laws apply. However, incidents that take place in another country’s waters could be governed by the law of that country subject to where the vessel is registered.

Accidents that happen on-board vessels that are abroad can be complicated due to jurisdictional issues, and different limitation periods can apply according to where the accident occurs.

If the accident happens on a cruise or similar arranged passage, then the Package Tour Regulations will apply.

How Novum Law can help

Tim Blackwell, a specialist personal injury solicitor from our Southampton office, says:

“As a keen water sports enthusiast, I understand how much fun it is to get out onto the water during the summer months. Boating is sociable, great exercise and a brilliant way to enjoy the waters around our country and the warmer weather.

“I also appreciate the many dangers that can be lurking in these situations. While you can never prevent all possible accidents, it’s worth taking some basic safety precautions.”

“Always book tours and excursions with reputable companies to ensure staff are properly trained.”

“Keep your own equipment well maintained and always wear an appropriate lifejacket or buoyancy aid and suitable clothing. Try to go out with someone else or in a group and always tell someone where you are going and when you are expected to return.  Keep an eye on the weather and tides for your area and become familiar with the area in which you are sailing to be aware of sand bars or particularly tricky tidal phenomenon. Take a mobile phone and ideally a VHF radio with you in a waterproof case.”

“If the worst happens and you have a boating accident resulting in injury that wasn’t your fault, then you could be able to make a claim for compensation.”

If you or a loved one has been involved in a boating accident, Novum Law’s team of specialist personal injury solicitors is here to help.

There is a time limit for making any personal injury claims for boating accidents. Depending on where the accident occurred, this is usually 3 years from the date of the accident, but some may need to be made within 2 years or possibly less if the accident occurs abroad.

For this reason, it is a good idea to talk to a personal injury expert at soon as possible after the accident took place. This means they have time to gather all the evidence needed to ensure your claim will be successful.

To find out if you can make a boating accident compensation claim, contact us on Freephone 0800 884 0777, email or complete our online form for a free, no-obligation chat.

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