Can You Sue after a California Dive Boat Accident?
Recently, a dive boat off the coast of Santa Cruz island suffered a devastating fire. CNN reports that all thirty-three passengers are presumed dead. This tragedy is a stark reminder of the dangers associated with boating in Southern California. Victims who are injured on a dive boat in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence have the legal right to be compensated for their losses.
Call (844) 335-3271 to schedule your free consultation with a Los Angeles boat accident attorney. At Deldar Legal, we have helped many injured Californians protect their legal rights after a boat accident. We fight for the compensation to which you are legally entitled.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Dive Boat Accident?
There are many individuals and companies that could be legally responsible (liable) for causing a dive boat accident. A California boat accident lawyer can determine whether you have a claim against any of the following:
A commercial company that arranges boat rides.
Any company offering recreational services must take reasonable steps to ensure its patrons’ safety. This includes water sports such as boating, surfing, paddleboarding, and other ocean activities. These companies must ensure that their equipment is in safe working order. They must ensure that patrons have proper instruction and supervision from hired instructors. They must take reasonable steps to prevent any dangerous condition that is likely to arise.
A commercial company that offers transportation (such as boat rides) also has an added legal duty. Common carriers are companies that carry customers for a fee. This definition includes ridesharing services, municipal and private buses, subways, railways, and airlines. Section 2100 of the California Civil Code requires these companies to use “the utmost care and diligence” for their customers’ safe passage. They must also “provide everything necessary for that purpose” and exercise “a reasonable degree of skill.” This is a higher legal burden than simply using reasonable care. Common carriers – like those that operate paid boat rides – are expected to use an even greater degree of care to ensure their customers are transported safely. This makes it easier for injury victims to prove that the boat operator was liable, and thus has a duty of compensation.
The captain of a private vessel.
Though private boat owners do not have the same legal obligations as a common carrier, they are still expected to use reasonable care in the operation of their vessels. There are many ways in which a boat owner can fail in this duty. This is known as legal “negligence,” and it leads to a finding of fault (“liability”). The person who is liable for causing a boat accident also has a legal obligation to compensate injury victims for all the losses they have suffered.
So how can a boat owner be liable? It is negligent to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription medication, or any other substance that impairs the operator’s ability to boat safely. It is also negligent to operate a boat without proper training or knowledge. These and other dangerous behaviors could lead to a finding that the captain was negligent in the operation of his or her boat.
The owner of a boat that has not been properly maintained.
A boat owner can also be liable for injuries that occur as a result of improper maintenance or upkeep. Slip and fall injuries are common on boats. Though a boat operator might not necessarily be liable for surfaces that are wet due to ocean water, he or she could be liable for spills that are not addressed in a timely manner. If a boat fails because the owner failed to inspect it regularly or address regular maintenance issues, this too could lead to liability. It is important to consult with a boat accident attorney to determine whether the boat you were injured on was properly maintained.
The manufacturer of a defective boat or safety equipment.
All companies that manufacture consumer goods are subject to strict products liability. This is a legal rule that holds manufacturers accountable for injuries caused by consumer goods. The consumer does not have to prove that the manufacturer was unreasonable or argue about the validity of its safety precautions. Manufacturers are simply presumed to be liable for injuries that are caused by their products. There are some limited defenses that apply. For example, a manufacturer can avoid liability if it proves that the consumer was not using its product as intended. But the burden is on the manufacturer to prove that one of these limited exceptions applies.
So how does this rule apply in boating accidents? A boat is a consumer good. This means that the manufacturer is liable for injuries that occur due to defects in the design or manufacture of its boat. The makers of individual parts (for example, the engine) can also be held liable. Even the manufacturers of safety equipment (such as life vests) can be held accountable for defective products. The injured user need only prove that he or she has injuries that were caused by the defective product. Perhaps the engine caught fire and caused burn injuries. Maybe the life vests were not buoyant, and a boater tragically drowned as a result. These are just some of the many ways in which boaters can be injured by consumer goods in and around the boat. You don’t have to be the purchaser of the product in order to sustain a products liability claim – you need only be a “foreseeable user” of the product. The boat accident attorneys at Deldar Legal can help you determine whether you have a viable products liability claim.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a California Boat Accident Attorney
It is important to protect your legal rights after any type of boating accident. Injuries sustained in a dive boat accident can cause permanent damage and permanently affect your daily life. Call Deldar Legal at (844) 335-3271 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation. Our experienced San Jose personal injury lawyers serve accident victims in Los Angeles and Riverside, as the surrounding areas.
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