Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C.

Some boating accidents may be prevented by mandatory inspections

Automobiles must pass through periodic inspections to assure their basic functional safety. Trucks, trains and planes must be certified as fit through similar checkups. Recreational boats, which are proportionally involved in just as many reported accidents as those other vehicles, are surprisingly not generally subject to mandatory inspections. Because boating accidents and associated personal injuries occur with frequency in Tennessee and surrounding states, the lack of regularly mandated safety inspections represents an important gap in accident prevention regulations that are generally provided by state and federal agencies.

Safety equipment on boats is not generally subject to governmental inspections. They include life vests, anchors, flares, signaling devices, fire extinguishers and several other tools that are necessary to assure basic minimal boating safety. Inspections are also not generally required with respect to the boat's engine, navigational systems, electrical and other major structural and mechanical systems. Unfortunately, a malfunction in one or more of these critical functions may be responsible, directly or indirectly, for many boating accidents and personal injuries.

When someone is injured in a boating accident that is caused by the negligence of one or more boat operators, the general rules of negligence apply to give the injured person a right to collect damages. In general, the rules of the road that govern liability in an auto accident in Tennessee and each state are applicable also to boating accidents. In boating accidents, however, there are also particular negligence principles that apply to navigational issues and other maritime related subject matter.

If a passenger on a boat is injured or killed in a boating accident, the injured passenger or the estate of the decedent can make a claim against one or more operators just as may be done regarding auto accidents. The claim made by a decedent's estate pertaining to boating accidents is similarly called a wrongful death action. The best way to handle injury or death claims from boating accidents in Tennessee or surrounding localities is to consult with an attorney who is experienced in maritime law and boating accident claims.

Source: valleymorningstar.com, "At the Helm: Should There Be Mandatory Boat Safety Inspections?", W.D. "DOC" Gagan, Dec. 3, 2015

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