Boating Safety Issues
I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.
Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.
Today’s question comes from a caller who said “my daughter was on a boat on a smaller inland lake when another boat pulling a person on water skis ran into them and my daughter was seriously injured, what are our legal rights?”
Boating accidents are common in Indiana in the summer months.
Not long ago we settled a case for a gentleman who was seriously injured in a boating accident on lake Michigan when the boat operator took a small boat out into the lake instead of keeping the small boat in the harbor, and a large wave tossed the occupants out of their seats and onto the decking.
We have also provided legal counsel to persons whose family members were killed in boating accidents.
Just like there are rules of the road that govern land motor vehicle operation, there are safety rules that, when followed, will eliminate boating accidents of the type noted above, and save lives and prevent injury.
These rules of safe operation are set out in the statutes and regulations in Indiana covering boat operations. Most important are that:
-A person operating a boat shall operate the boat in a careful and prudent manner, having due regard for the following: (1) the rights, safety, and property of other persons. (2) The conditions and hazards, actual and potential, then existing, including weather and density of traffic. (3) Possible injury to the person or property of other persons. IC 14-15-3-3
-A person may not operate a boat at a rate of speed greater than: (1) is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the conditions and hazards, actual and potential, then existing, including weather and density of traffic; or (2) will permit the person, in the exercise of reasonable care, to bring the boat to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead. IC 14-15-3-7
In addition, boat operators must:
-Keep a proper lookout for and identify dangerous water conditions,
-Watch for signs of weather change to avoid being caught in foul weather and rough seas,
-Adjust course or slow speed to avoid injury to passengers posed by rough water conditions, and
-Warn occupants in advance of wave or wake dangers that cannot be avoided.
Under the circumstances described by the caller, her daughter suffered injury at a minimum because the ski boat operator did not keep a lookout, and was operating at a high rate of speed. Upon investigating further, the police confirmed that the ski boat operator was intoxicated. Operating a boat while intoxicated constitutes clear evidence of recklessness.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.