Boat and Boating Related Accidents in Massachusetts

Boat and Boating Accidents in Massachusetts

Boat accident lawyer

If you were injured in a Massachusetts Boat Accident then you need to contact an attorney. You need a lawyer who has expertise in the special considerations and intricacies of boat injury claims. If a loved one was killed in a fatal boating accident you need to contact a wrongful death attorney in MA as soon as possible.

Any Massachusetts boat accident involving personal watercraft such as jet skis, paddleboats, motorboats, fishing vessels, canoes, sailboats or other boats constitutes a boating accident. A boating accident claim could also include a slip and fall on a ramp or any mishap related to boarding a vessel. These types of accidents could lead to a serious injury, traumatic head injury or even death

What are the primary causes of boat crashes in MA?

  • A boat colliding with another boat, rock, dock, land mass or lighthouse
  • Slip and fall or premises liability claim while on a boat
  • Reckless, inexperienced or negligent boat operation
  • Drunk Driving  and inexperienced boat operators
  • Speeding in violation of speed limits

Consider the 1984 Massachusetts Appellate Division Court case: Joseph Westort vs. Hurley’s Boat Rental, Inc1984 Mass. App. Div. 197 (1984) (please note that this is not a decision from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court!)

In the Westort case, according to the Appellate Court, the Injured Plaintiff drove from Hadley MA to Quincy for a planned deep sea fishing expedition. In advance of the trip, they rented a boat owned by the defendant. After paying the required fee and obtaining a receipt they left the boat yard office and went to the dock to get the boat. While walking to the dock they were carrying “fishing tackle and bait” Id.

Slip and fall off the edge of the ramp

The Mass. Court set forth further the pertinent facts as follows: “the employee pointed out the party’s boat and Senecal proceeded to bend down to hold the boat in place so that another companion might get in. At this point, he suddenly observed the plaintiff, (again the last in line coming down the plank) “throw up his arms, slip and fall off the edge of the ramp” to the ground which was then about four feet below the edge of the ramp.” Id.

Early morning air would often be damp and hazy

The Massachusetts Court in Westort, found the defendant negligent and reasoned that “Under the ‘reasonable man’ standard of ordinary care, the defendant should have known of the slippery condition of the ramp. This was certainly not a one time occurrence. A reasonable man would expect and anticipate that early morning air would often be damp and hazy and would saturate the canvas on the ramp causing it to become a “slippery slope” indeed. It could reasonably be anticipated that the dragging of the briny fish bags would exacerbate this condition, as it obviously did here. The evidence showed that defendant was well aware of the fish cleaning entrepreneurs located at the top of the ramp.”

In July 2010, the MA Supreme Judicial Court issued a landmark ruling in the case of Papadopoulos v Target Corporation. As a result of the ruling, an owner of real estate can no longer duck responsibility by asserting that they are not responsible to protect visitors from natural snow and ice accumulations.

Massachusetts boat accident lawyer

In Westort the Court went on to rule “Again, it strains credulity to believe that defendant was not aware of the water saturated early morning air and its impact on a precipitously pitched canvass covered plank. A reasonable man would well conclude that these factors would produce a slippery ramp, dangerous to the welfare of its customers. In our view, clearly there was some positive duty owed this plaintiff. However, defendant did nothing. It did not warn its customers of the dangerous condition nor did it take reasonable steps to mitigate the danger — such as the placing of guardrails, etc. We find this to be a breach of the duty owed the plaintiff and we further find this breach to be the proximate and legal cause of the plaintiffs injury.” Id.

The Court further pointed out that “there were no hand or guardrails in place on the ramp, nor, from all that appears from the record, any warning or cautionary signs directed at those who would be traversing it in order to get to the boats which the defendant was in the business of renting to them.” Id.

Boating accidents can result in serious injuries and even death

Boating accidents can result in serious injuries and even death, and they can occur for a variety of reasons. Some common types of boating accidents that can lead to serious injury or fatalities include:

  1. Collision: Collisions with other boats, watercraft, or fixed objects like docks and bridges are a leading cause of boating accidents. High-speed collisions can be particularly deadly.
  2. Capsizing: When a boat overturns or flips, it can lead to passengers falling into the water, potentially causing drowning or injury.
  3. Grounding: Boats can run aground on sandbars, rocks, or other underwater obstacles, leading to injury or damage to the vessel.
  4. Falls Overboard: Passengers or crew members can fall overboard, leading to drowning if they are unable to get back on the boat or are not wearing life jackets.
  5. Sinking: Sinking incidents can occur due to various reasons, including hull damage, equipment failure, or improper maintenance.
  6. Fire or Explosion: Fires and explosions on boats can cause severe burns, injuries, and fatalities.
  7. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) from engine exhaust or other sources on the boat can lead to poisoning, which can be fatal if not detected in time.
  8. Propeller Strikes: Contact with a boat’s propeller can result in serious injuries or fatalities, particularly if someone is in the water near the running engine.
  9. Drowning: Many boating accidents result in passengers falling overboard and drowning due to a lack of life jackets, poor swimming skills, or harsh weather conditions.
  10. Alcohol and Drug-Related Incidents: The use of alcohol or drugs while operating a boat can impair judgment and coordination, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.
  11. Weather-Related Incidents: Adverse weather conditions, such as strong winds, lightning, and rough seas, can contribute to accidents and pose significant dangers to boaters.
  12. Equipment Failure: Malfunctions or failures of essential boat components, such as steering systems, engines, or navigational equipment, can lead to accidents.
  13. Inexperienced Operators: Inexperienced or untrained boat operators are more likely to make mistakes that result in accidents.
  14. Reckless or Negligent Behavior: Speeding, not following navigation rules, and other reckless or negligent behaviors can lead to accidents.
  15. Lack of Safety Equipment: Not having proper safety equipment on board, including life jackets, fire extinguishers, and distress signals, can exacerbate the consequences of an accident.

Prevent boating accidents

To prevent boating accidents and their potentially tragic outcomes, it’s crucial for boaters to adhere to safety guidelines, undergo proper training, use safety equipment, and avoid alcohol or drug use while operating watercraft. Additionally, being aware of weather conditions and practicing responsible and courteous boating behaviors can significantly reduce the risk of accidents.

Boating accidents can result in serious injuries or fatalities, and they can occur for various reasons. Here are some types of boat accidents that can cause significant harm:

  1. Collisions:
    • Vessel Collisions: When two or more boats collide, it can lead to severe injuries or fatalities. This can happen on open water or in confined spaces like harbors or channels.
    • Fixed Object Collisions: Boats may collide with fixed objects such as rocks, piers, or buoys, causing serious injuries or even fatalities.
  2. Capsizing:
    • Boats can overturn or capsize due to various factors, such as rough weather, high waves, overloading, or sudden shifts in weight distribution.
  3. Falls Overboard:
    • Passengers or crew members may fall overboard, leading to drowning or injury. This can happen due to lack of railings, slippery surfaces, or sudden movements of the boat.
  4. Grounding:
    • Boats may run aground on shoals, sandbars, or other underwater obstacles, causing damage to the vessel and potential injuries to occupants.
  5. Propeller Accidents:
    • Injuries can occur when individuals come into contact with the boat’s propeller. This can happen during swimming, water sports, or even while boarding or disembarking.
  6. Fire and Explosions:
    • Fires and explosions on boats can result from fuel leaks, electrical issues, or other malfunctions. These incidents can cause serious injuries, burns, or fatalities.
  7. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
    • Boats with enclosed spaces, like cabins, can be at risk for carbon monoxide buildup. Inhaling high levels of carbon monoxide can lead to serious illness or death.
  8. Drowning:
    • Accidents that lead to individuals being submerged in the water for extended periods can result in drowning. This can happen after falls overboard, capsizing, or other incidents.
  9. Alcohol-Related Incidents:
    • Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs can impair judgment and coordination, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.
  10. Weather-Related Incidents:
    • Adverse weather conditions, such as storms, high winds, and rough seas, can contribute to accidents and pose serious risks to boaters.
  11. Navigation Errors:
    • Mistakes in navigation, such as misjudging distances, misunderstanding navigation markers, or failing to follow proper waterway rules, can lead to collisions and accidents.

To prevent these accidents, it’s crucial for boaters to follow safety guidelines, be aware of their surroundings, and adhere to boating regulations and best practices. Boating safety courses, proper equipment, and responsible behavior on the water can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.