INSIGHTS On Massachusetts Personal Injury Law

Welcome to the SUGARMAN blog. We'll be sharing our perspectives on the state of the law and current legal issues in Massachusetts personal injury law. Issues relating to medical malpractice, construction site injuries, premises liability, product liability, motor vehicle accidents, insurance, and more will all be reviewed here by our team of lawyers who have prosecuted some of the most complex cases in Massachusetts personal injury law.

Articles Posted in Boat Liability

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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.

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As summer winds down, Massachusetts boat owners are flocking to the water to fit in a few final boat trips with friends and family. It is important as a boat owner to take precautions and understand your responsibilities before leaving the dock to ensure a safe enjoyable day for you and your passengers!

Before You Get Underway
Every boat should have all Coast Guard required safety equipment, including life jackets for every passenger, on board at all times. Frequent checks of this equipment and pre and post-trip inspections of your boat should be made to ensure everything is in good working order. A boat operator should know the weather report and understand the boat’s limitations before setting off. It is always a good idea to tell a family member, friend or dock master your float plan, which describes your planned day on the water, before heading out. Some of the things that should be included in a float plan are vessel information, including registration number and boat description, planned route, departure and return times and your emergency contact information.

While On The Water
Always operate with caution. A boat operator should never drink or use drugs while boating. Not only is it incredibly dangerous, but the penalties for operating a boat under the influence are the same as for motor vehicles. Although there are no posted speed limits on open water, a boat owner is liable for damage caused by his or her boat and for damage caused by the boat’s wake.
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