Who’s Liable After A Boating Accident In Tennessee?

Some of the most picturesque bodies of water in the US are located in East Tennessee, so residents and visitors alike enjoy a relatively long boating season touring Douglas Lake, the Cherokee Reservoir, Norman Lake, the Tennessee River, and many others. Surrounded by beauty and fun onboard activities, you might not pay too much attention to the risks of boating accidents. However, statistics reported by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) reveal that on-the-water incidents are far too common. On average, there are just under 160 water vessel accidents reported every year. Around 30 people are killed, while over 80 individuals suffer injuries.

If you were hurt or lost a loved one in an accident involving watercraft, it may be some comfort to know that Tennessee law provides you with legal remedies. You may be eligible to recover compensation, but one of the most important initial questions relates to liability. Because the concept encompasses multiple considerations and challenges, it is wise to rely on the team at Barnes Law to guide you through the process. Please contact our firm to schedule a free consultation with a Knoxville boating accident attorney who can provide details. An overview of liability for boat collisions may also be useful.

How Liability Works After A Boating Accident In Tennessee

Negligence is the theory of liability for most personal injury cases, including those involving casualties on water-based vessels. However, the term has a very specific meaning in the practice of law, so there are certain essential elements you must prove.

  1. You must establish that the at-fault boater had a duty to operate the watercraft safely, so as to not create a risk of harm to others;
  2. You need evidence showing that this individual breached the duty of care;
  3. It is necessary to prove that the breach of duty was a direct cause of the boating accident, such that it would not have occurred but for the misconduct; and
  4. You must show that you suffered losses as a result of being hurt.

Examples Demonstrating Liability For Boat Collisions

The concept of negligence after a boating accident will generally center on elements #2 and #3, so some examples may help you better understand the role of liability. A boat operator may be negligent – and therefore liable – through the following:

  • Operating a water vessel that is not seaworthy;
  • Failure to understand aids to navigation;
  • Not knowing the rules of boating operation;
  • Boating without having proper personal flotation devices onboard;
  • Failing to keep a proper lookout to avoid obstacles;
  • Drinking alcohol and/or using drugs while operating a boat;
  • Not taking proper precautions for wind, water, and weather conditions; and,
  • Operating the boat at excessive speed.

Victims can sustain serious head injuries, broken bones, and spinal cord trauma in boat accidents, as well as cuts, lacerations, and abrasions. However, there are two key factors to note with these incidents. First, vessels are surrounded by water; any impact that sends a victim overboard could lead to primary injuries as well as complications from drowning. Second, falling in the water also puts a victim at risk of coming into contact with the propeller. Catastrophic injuries and amputation are common, and many fatalities are the result of this scenario. 

Legal Remedies For Seeking Monetary Damages

Boat owners typically carry insurance coverage to protect against risk of loss, so filing an insurance claim is usually the first step after an accident. If the insurer refuses to settle for a fair amount, you may need to sue in court to recover fair compensation. Our Knoxville boating accident lawyers at Barnes Law are aggressive in dealing with insurance companies, but we are equally prepared to apply our litigation skills in court. We will aim to obtain the full amount of monetary damages allowed by Tennessee law, including:

  • Costs of medical care, such as surgery, emergency treatment, hospitalization, and physical therapy;
  • Lost income if your injuries prevent you from working;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Scarring and disfigurement;
  • Diminished quality of life;
  • Emotional anguish; and,
  • Losses based upon how your injuries affect your personal relationships.

Set Up A Free Consultation With A Knoxville Boating Accident Lawyer

For more information on liability under Tennessee boat accident laws, please contact Barnes Law to speak to a member of our team. Individuals in counties across East Tennessee can call (865) 805-5703 or visit our website to schedule a no-cost case review at our offices in Knoxville. Once we assess your unique circumstances, we can advise you on liability, potential compensation, and next steps in the legal process.