When the summer days get hot, thousands of Albertans take to local lakes and rivers to enjoy the sun with friends and family. A watercraft can add a lot of fun and excitement to a day on the water. From speedboats to Sea-Doos or even Flyboards, there’s something for everyone. While driving or riding a motorized watercraft on the water can be exhilarating, it also adds the elements of speed and risk. The National Marine Manufacturers Association Canada (NMMA) reports that about 12.4 million adult Canadians go boating every year and the recreational marine industry generates approximately $2.3 billion annually.  Those are pretty significant numbers. According to a recent CTV report, Transport Canada estimates that “100 people die each year in boating accidents, and many more suffer serious injuries” and goes on to say that “the majority of these fatalities can be avoided.” More often than not, when an accident happens on water, it is the result of recklessness or negligence. If you or someone you love has been involved in a watercraft accident that resulted in injury, we can help. At Litwiniuk & Company, we have represented many Albertans who have been injured in watercraft accidents, and we’ve been in business since 1976. We understand the ins-and-outs of these complex cases and we’ll ensure you get access to the benefits and compensation you deserve.
- Common types of watercraft accidents include:
- Collisions with other watercrafts, floating debris, or rocks;
- Injuries during watersports such as waterskiing or tubing behind a speedboat;
- Being struck by a watercraft while swimming;
- Boats or watercrafts sinking;
- Slip and fall accidents on boats or watercrafts; and
Watercraft accidents may be the fault of a person who was…
- Speeding or operating the craft recklessly;
- Lacking experience operating watercraft;
- Under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Driving or operating the watercraft recklessly;
- Allowing an unqualified, underaged, or unlicensed person to operate their watercraft; or
- Failing to observe other people or watercrafts on the water.
Other factors that might contribute include…
- A defect in the watercraft;
- Unexpected bad weather conditions;
- Various mechanical malfunctions;
- Lack of safety warnings on the watercraft; and
- Carbon monoxide poisoning.
Transport Canada offers a free online Safe Boating Guide that provides helpful safety tips and an easy-to-understand list of requirements for drivers and operators.
A Personal Injury Lawyer’s guide to watercraft accidents…
The first and most important step is to ensure your own safety and the safety of anyone else involved. After calling authorities and medical personnel, it’s a good idea to collect as much information and evidence as possible. A picture is worth a thousand words. If you have a camera, take as many photographs as you can of the scene, including any damages or injuries sustained. If you or another witness was wearing a body camera or GoPro, make sure you keep the footage. If you have a cellphone, make a note of the time of day, weather conditions, and any information you can think of while your memory is still fresh. If a speedboat, Sea-Doo, Jet Ski, or other motorized watercraft was involved in the accident, find out if the driver has a boating licence, also known as a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. Sea-Doos and other small watercrafts should have a VIN number, and boats will have a hull identification number (HIN). Don’t know where to find the HIN number? Click here . Do your best to get the names of other people involved or witnesses. If the accident involved a boat, collect any insurance or policy information you can. The more details you are able to piece together, the easier it will be to create a complete picture of what happened – and make a solid claim. What if you were unable to gather any evidence at the time? Are you still able to make a claim? Not everyone thinks to gather information at the time of an accident – or they may be unable to do so due to their injuries or being a state of shock. Our Personal Injury Lawyers are experts at gathering evidence after the fact. The sooner you contact a Calgary watercraft accident lawyer, the easier it will be to prevent important evidence from being lost and get accurate eyewitness accounts. Have questions? Give us a call today – it won’t cost you a thing to get free legal answers.
What are the legal responsibilities of watercraft owners and operators?
The laws surrounding boating are regulated by Transport Canada under the Canada Shipping Act . According to the Act, all owners and operators of a motorized watercraft must follow Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations. These include restrictions surrounding age of operation, speed limits, licensing and registration, and various safety requirements. While you don’t need a license to operate a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard, you must be licensed to operate a watercraft with a motor. Note: there are some exceptions for special circumstances, such as visitors to Canada, persons renting a boat, or those who can provide alternative proof of competency through specific certifications or checklists. In Canada, minors are permitted to operate certain types of boats in some circumstances, but with additional restrictions. Owners and operators of any watercraft have a legal responsibility to follow the laws and exercise care to ensure the safety of others on the water. When a watercraft accident is the result of a mechanical defect or inadequate safety warnings, the manufacturer may be held legally responsible. If you have questions about liability or making a claim, call or email us to get free answers to all your legal questions.
Am I entitled to make claim?
If you have been injured in a watercraft accident that was not your fault, there’s a good chance you are legally entitled to receive compensation for your injuries. As well, family members of a victim who succumbed to their injuries also have a right to make a claim. Canada’s Marine Liability Act is an important piece of legislation for watercraft-related claims. While you may be familiar with the process of making a claim for a Motor Vehicle Accident, watercraft accident claims work very differently. When an accident takes place on water, the compensation amount is based on the tonnage of the watercraft involved in the accident. For boaters, the operator of the craft is expected to be familiar with boating safety regulations . Navigating the waters of liability for accidents that happen on water can be complicated. Watch out for insurance companies pressuring you or offering you a settlement right away; their first offer is virtually always considerably lower than what a claim is actually worth. At Litwiniuk & Company, our Personal Injury Lawyers will take care of the legal work and ensure you get fair compensation. To find out if you are eligible to make a claim, or what your claim might be worth, give us a call today.
In Alberta, you generally have up to two years from the date of a boating accident to make a claim in court or your right to do so is lost forever. But it’s important not to wait as there may be other important deadlines, or other circumstances that may affect the deadline or your claim. If you have any questions about the limitation period for your claim, call or email us for a free consultation with one of our Calgary watercraft accident lawyers today.
Our Calgary Watercraft Accident Lawyers Are Here to Help
We hope we’ve been able to provide answers to some of the questions you might have about the laws surrounding watercraft accidents. No article is ever a substitute for personalized legal advice; we always recommended speaking to an experienced Personal Injury Lawyer to learn what your options are. It won’t cost you a thing to get free legal advice from our best lawyers. At Litwiniuk & Company we’ve represented those injured, and their families, in Calgary and throughout Alberta for over 44 years. We can help with every type of accident that can happen on water including:
- Swimming accidents;
- Tubing accidents;
- Canoeing accidents;
- Kayaking accidents;
- Paddle boarding accidents;
- Wakeboarding accidents;
- Waterskiing accidents
- Sailing accidents;
- Parasailing accidents;
- Kite surfing accidents;
- Surfing accidents;
- Sea-Doo accidents; and
- Boating accidents.
Let our firm work to get you the maximum compensation for your claim and the treatment you’re entitled to. We’ll deal with the insurance companies and the law, while you focus on getting your life back to normal. If you are looking for a Calgary watercraft accident lawyer contact Litwiniuk & Company today for a free consultation. It won’t cost you anything to get an experienced Personal Injury lawyer on your side, because we don’t get paid until you get paid .