In Boston and throughout Massachusetts, commercial and recreational boating is a way of life. Not surprisingly, boating accidents are too. Lawsuits involving injuries suffered in boating accidents, often referred to as “admiralty” cases, involve various aspects of state and federal law depending on who the injured parties are and where and in what manner the boating accident occurs. Admiralty is the body of law which regulates the carrying of passengers and cargo over water and provides remedies to individuals injured while boating.
Generally, when vessels collide causing injuries, a claim can be brought for negligence in the navigation and operation of the vessel. The test of fault for causing a collision or other harm-inducing event is whether the operator of the vessel acted as a reasonably prudent mariner at the time of the incident, under the totality of the circumstances.
Under boating or admiralty law, workers injured at sea may be entitled to benefits and compensation under the Jones Act and other federal statutes. In some circumstances, these workers have greater rights than injured workers in other areas. For instance, under traditional negligence law, an employee typically cannot bring a personal injury lawsuit against his/her employer or a co-employee. The remedy is limited to Workers’ Compensation benefits. A “seaman” (a member of a ship’s crew), however, can bring certain types of injury claims against his employer.