Legal Edge: Local attorney explains liability laws surrounding boats


With our Great Lakes, Michigan is one of the states with the most boat owners, and with summer in full swing, Local attorney Bryan Waldman thought it was the perfect time to talk about the risks that come with boat ownership.

“Just like operating a car. If you hit another boat, you can be liable not only for the property damage, but to any injuries for the people on either vessel. If you just hit waves too hard, or you hit the wave too hard or going too fast, that you’ve probably seen some funny YouTube videos, but people can get HURT When that type of stuff happens,” said Waldman.

“And one of the things we commonly see are injuries that occur when someone’s pulling a water skier or tubing, and maybe they don’t have enough people. They’ve cut corners, don’t have a spotter aren’t careful enough. And in those types of claims are relatively common during this short voting season that we have.”

Waldman suggests thinking about boats in the same way one would think about cars.

“There’s something called ownership liability, which means if someone is operating your boat, and they act negligently or recklessly and injure of someone cause property damage, you’re responsible just because you’re the owner.”

Boats, like any automobile, have to be registered.

“There are some exceptions,” said Waldman.

“If you have a boat that say something like a kayak or a canoe or a paddleboard, some boats that are below a certain length and don’t have a motor don’t need to be registered, but your typical motor boat is going to need to be registered.”

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