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  • Boat Operator

Managing Risk While on the Water

Boat owners and operators take on implied responsibility because watercraft can be dangerous. While some of the liabilities they face are shared, others strictly apply to operators and not owners, unless of course they are the same person. Managing risk is a matter of understanding both the best practices for safety on the boat and the boat operator’s own obligations to passengers and others on the water.

A Duty to Provide Reasonable Care

Boat operator liability is based in maritime tradition that goes back to ancient traders operating at sea without the protection of well-defined international borders. Since the time of the ancient Greeks, hospitality customs have dictated that the owner or captain of a vessel is responsible for the safety and well-being of those he welcomes onto the vessel. Modern admiralty law reflects this principle in updated language.

Communicating Hazards and Safety Precautions

A boat operator’s duties and obligations include making hazards known, along with instructions for proper safety mitigation. From securing loose belongings to seeking emergency quarters or even evacuation, people look to the one in charge to tell them how to best handle any hazardous situation when they are aboard his or her boat. When a personal injury attorney takes a case based on boat owner liability, this is one of the key areas that is scrutinized in the process of building the case.

Boat Maintenance and Repair

Another major area of liability for boat operators and owners is the condition of the vessel itself. Lax maintenance can lead to liability through negligence, especially if major safety features or systems that passengers depend on are affected. Electrical, heating, and even the conditions of the passenger areas all come into play, so it’s critical that a proper maintenance plan is comprehensive and carried out on a regular basis.

Practicing Sound Boat Safety Policies

Putting all the proper practices for maritime safety into place is the best way for boat operators to protect themselves and their passengers. Diligently policing those procedures might involve a lot of effort, but it is worth it to keep everyone on board, and other boat operators nearby safe at the same time.