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Boat and Boating Related Accidents in Massachusetts

Boat and Boating Accidents in MassachusettsIf you were injured in a Massachusetts Boat Accident then you need to contact a Boating Crash attorney. You need a MA 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 Boston Boat Accident Personal injury Lawyer or Wrongful Death attorney in MA as soon as possible.

Any 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 causing Personal Injury or wrongful death 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 causing serious personal Injury
  • Drunk Driving (DUI) 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, Inc. 1984 Mass. App. Div. 197 (1984)
see (please note that this is not a decision from the highest Court in Massachusetts, the MA Supreme Judicial court!)

In the Westort case, according to the Appellate Court, the Injured Plaintiff drove from Hadley MA to Quincy near Boston 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.

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.

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.”

Editors note: the law of Slip and Fall related to snow storms and slip and fall

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 Personal Injury / Slip and Fall 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 Slip and fall Decision

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.


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