Motor Vehicle Accidents Aren’t Limited to the Road. Know Your Rights in the Water
Pop quiz: what comes to mind when you hear the phrase “motor vehicle accident”? That’s simple enough to answer: accidents involving cars, trucks, jeeps, vans, SUVs, motorcycles, and… boats? Yes, experienced Ottawa injury lawyers want you to know that when considering the potential risks or legal complications of motor vehicle accidents, it’s absolutely essential to factor in boating and pleasure craft accidents, too.
Like other vehicle-related accidents, the Highway Traffic Act comes into play in boating accidents, but they can be somewhat more complex because there are also the Marine Liability Act and jurisdiction issues. These issues can arise from a clashing of Federal and Provincial governing bodies, or if an accident happened in a body of water that rests on a border, such as the Great Lakes, which sit on the border between Canada and the United States.
In the Event of an Accident
If you are injured as the result of any boating accident, the first thing you should do is notify emergency services. If necessary, seek immediate medical attention. It may also be beneficial at this stage to file a police report, and let a police officer gather available evidence and witness reports which you may need later if you choose to make a legal case. This isn’t mandatory-however, this evidence may be difficult or even impossible to gather later, and unlike road accidents, there are typically fewer witnesses, and traffic cameras are non-existent.
If your injuries happened as a result of negligent or reckless driving on the part of the boat operator, you may choose to take legal action to ensure compensation for your injuries, as well as income, enjoyment of life, or any losses you may have incurred as a result. Speak to a personal injury lawyer in Ottawa about pursuing legal action.
Duty of Care
Like with cars, every owner and operator of a boat most have a licence, called a Pleasure Craft Operator card, and must have their craft registered. If you are a passenger on the boat where the accident occurred, the operator is responsible to your safety. If your injury was foreseeable and preventable under a reasonable standard of care, and this standard was not applied, then they will be liable for your injuries. However, you are also responsible to a certain extent for your own safety-this is called a duty to mitigate. If you are found to be partially responsible for your injury (e.g. you refused to wear a life jacket when asked to) then the damages awarded to you will be reduced relative to the degree at which you share fault.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a boating accident as a result of negligence, contact an Ottawa injury lawyer today to help ensure you receive any and all compensation you may be entitled to under law.