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Wake damage law, claims, and liability-gctid388510

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    Wake damage law, claims, and liability-gctid388510

    Sarah's thread regarding her being waked and the injuries has caused allot of discussion as to a boaters liability for damage caused by their boats wake.

    Because of this I decided to do some research on the subject and am opening a fresh thread to discuss this very important issue.

    There is an almost universal premise that we, as boaters are responsible for damage caused by our own wake. The problem is that this is always in reference to damage to moored boats, or damage to shorelines.

    I could find no reference indicating that we as boaters are liable for damage caused by our own wake to other vessles that are underway. (If someone finds such a reference, please post it.)

    For waters that are under the jurisdiction of the US Coast Guard the Navigation Rules apply. Here's a link to the USCG navrules site:

    http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=navRulesContent

    They have a "frequently asked questions" section that specifically adresses the issue of wake damage. Here's a copy of the text:

    10. What are the regulations concerning wake effects, wake damage, and responsibility? Regarding one's wake, vessels over 1600 Gross Tons are specifically required by Title 33 CFR 164.11 to set the vessel's speed with consideration for...the damage that might be caused by the vessel's wake. Further, there may be State or local laws which specifically address "wake" for the waters in question.

    While vessels under 1600 GT are not specifically required to manage their speed in regards to wake, they are still required to operate in a prudent matter which does not endanger life, limb, or property (
    46 USC 2302). Nor do the Navigation Rules exonerate any vessel from the consequences of neglect (Rule 2), which, among other things, could be unsafe speeds (Rule 6), improper lookout (Rule 5), or completely ignoring your responsibilities as prescribed by the Navigation Rules.

    As to whether or not a particular vessel is responsible for the damage it creates is a question of law and fact that is best left to the Courts. For more information, contact your local Marine Patrol or
    State Boating Law Administrator.

    Here's a link to the USCG Navrules FAQ :

    http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=navRulesFAQ#0.3_9

    Has anybody found any other specific information regarding this issue? This is very interesting.

    Please post anything you find, and PLEASE indicate wether the rule you find is in regards to inland waterways, state specific rules, etc...


    KEVIN SANDERS
    4788 LISAS WAY - SEWARD ALASKA
    www.transferswitch4less.com

    where are we right now?

    https://maps.findmespot.com/s/36S4

    #2
    The Washington state "laws" read similar to the CFRs. They admonish the skipper to be careful but there's no specific law outside of actual no-wake zones. There's mention of wake in the "negligent operation" section but it looks like they spend most of the wake discussion on shoreline erosion and stuff the EPA might get after you for.

    If you listen to VTS traffic on the radio you'll hear wake advisories. This is usually for fueling operations. Making waves and rocking a lighter barge while he's fueling a ship would not actually be breaking the law but if you caused a spill you'd be apportioned some of the blame in Admiralty court. The barge operator and possibly the ship operator would get some of the blame for not adequately securing their apparatus against the possibility of spilling.

    This is similar to a situation where your wake caused harm to someone in a nearby boat. You would get some of the blame and the other boat's operator would get some as well.

    Comment


      #3
      I witnessed a boat with a crane working on a commercial dock doing some welding and supporting with a crew of three. I also saw this guy speed into the no wake zone around the dock and upset a long piece of iron these guys were trying to affix on the dock. The iron fell barly missing one of the crew. The crew immediately stopped work, went over to where the fellow moored and threw him into the water and asked him to make another wake like he just did to them.

      I guess if one of the crew were injured there would have been potential for a law suit.

      Comment


        #4
        In Canada, it's simple:

        Operating a vessel in a careless manner, without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons

        fine = $350
        ________________
        1989 Bayliner 3270

        Comment


          #5
          I don't see how someone could prove that the damage was caused by a specific boater.

          There would be too many people out there with crappy boats sueing every nice boat cruising by blaming all the damage on them.

          Years ago, 2 weeks after my truck was painted, a comercial truck in front of me launched a chunk of wood that dented my hood. I was pissed. I called the number on the truck and they said they were not responsible unless it was something that fell off their truck. Not the same, but sort of.

          If you moor your boat, tie it up well so it can't bounce off the docks. If youre out where people cause wakes, pay attention and deal with it.

          If you don't want to deal with wakes, go to the lakes that only allow electric boats and cruise around with the old farts.

          Comment


            #6
            I prefer the Finnish version: fine is a percentage of the yearly income.

            $350 may be a lot for Joe Doe but nothing to someone owning a $5M yacht.

            Comment


              #7
              Sorry Green 650, but I disagree with your suggestion to go to a lake of electric boats or tie up secure in a marina. First of all you need to see the boat, see the wake from that boat do damage and get the boats registration number. You don't get to pick a random boat. Second , any blankity blank boater who does not observe and respect other boaters safety whether they are cruising slow or tied up in a marina, should not be on the water and in my opinion should be torpedoed by a submarine. Thats just my opinion, but Idon't like criminal acts that are avoidable. Gary
              GARCHAR
              1988 2655
              2009 Volvo Penta 5.7 300 hp DP F3s
              Twice Past Commodore
              Northwest Outboard Trailer Sailors, Eugene,OR

              Comment


                #8
                Nikko wrote:
                In Canada, it's simple:

                Operating a vessel in a careless manner, without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons

                fine = $350
                Not so simple. A lawyer could have a field day. Define "careless" and what is considered "reasonable care"

                I think these laws are purposefully vague.

                Comment


                  #9
                  don't confuse US law with real law! Yes, here in the US you just need enough money to hire the best lawyer and you get around a lot of things. It's not so easy if not impossible in most other countries I know.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Okay, let's run through a couple of scenarios.

                    First, I'm in a channel that's about 2 miles wide. I'm pulling up my shrimp pots so my boat is stopped. Another boat comes by, a larger boat throwing a big waves and he circles me waving, and checking out what I'm doing. His big waves cause my boat to rock. The rocking of my boat causes me to slip, and I am injured. Has he committed a crime? Is he liable for my damages?

                    Next scenario. I'm cruising slowly down the same two mile wide channel. I'm just going nice and slow enjoying a nice conversation with my friends. The same large boat comes by, going nice and fast, throwing a big wave. He continues to drive by. His large waves cause my boat to rock, I slip and fall, and am injured. Has he committed a crime? Is he liable for my damages?

                    Third scenario. I am in the same wide channel, driving along slowly, and the same large boat starts circling me, crossing my wake and Generally impeding my way. His large waves cause me to slip and fall and get injured. Has he committed a crime? Is he liable for my damages?

                    KEVIN SANDERS
                    4788 LISAS WAY - SEWARD ALASKA
                    www.transferswitch4less.com

                    where are we right now?

                    https://maps.findmespot.com/s/36S4

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Nikko wrote:
                      In Canada, it's simple:

                      Operating a vessel in a careless manner, without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons

                      fine = $350
                      Wow, as if half a tank of gas worth in fines is going to teach someone a lesson? :right The law may exist but in all my years of boating I never heard of it being used. I do not think it is applicable in a no wake zone channel as this is like a road.
                      Cheers, Hans
                      2007 Carver 41 CMY
                      Twin Volvo D6-370
                      Montreal, Canada
                      Midnight Sun I Photos

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Navrules:

                        General rule 2, responsibility

                        (a) Nothing in these rules shall exhonerate any vessel or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these rules or the [B]neglect of any precaution[Bwhich may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by special circumstances of teh case.

                        There were cases in the past where a wake from a vessel caused injury to personnel in another vessel, and lawsuits were sucessful.

                        I remember a case where a boat anchored out side of a channel, the ocupants were making breakfest. The wake hi the boat and a woman spilled hot coffee on her arm and suffered second degree burns.

                        They sued sucessfully. There were others where a wake slammed boats inot docks and the operator was held liable.

                        I'll see what Fl state law says and amend this.

                        EDIT: Florida law:

                        2) Any person operating a vessel upon the waters of this state shall operate the vessel in a reasonable and prudent manner, having regard for other waterborne traffic, posted speed and wake restrictions, and all other attendant circumstances so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person. The failure to operate a vessel in a manner described in this subsection constitutes careless operation. However, vessel wake and shoreline wash resulting from the reasonable and prudent operation of a vessel shall, absent negligence, not constitute damage or endangerment to property. Any person who violates the provisions of this subsection commits a noncriminal violation as defined in s. 775.08

                        Kida lawyer double talk.
                        Captharv 2001 2452
                        "When the draft of your boat exceeds the depth of water, you are aground"

                        Comment


                          #13
                          In general, I believe the way any wake laws would be adjudicated would be two-tiered:

                          1. No wake Zones - If you operate your vessel in such a manner that you create a wake, you may be liable for any damage or injury your wake causes.

                          2. Unrestricted Areas - If you are operating your vessel in a normal manner you are not responsible for your wake. If you are operating your vessel in a manner whereby you are intentionally trying to harass, intimidate or damage another vessel or its passengers then you are open to liability. Negligent operation such as passing too close, would also expose you to liability.

                          On San Francisco Bay and its tributaries, commercial traffic and pleasure boats often mix. Ferries, tugs, ships and commercial fishermen go about their business within their operational necessities. Pleasure boats, regardless of whether they're underway or stationary, are expected to conform to that reality and do whatever it takes to keep themselves from harm.

                          The situation is completely different when some jackass on a jet ski decides to wake you.

                          So to summarize: No Wake Zone - you may be liable. Unrestricted Areas, Normal Operation - No problem. Intentional harrassment - you are liable.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            ksanders wrote:
                            Okay, let's run through a couple of scenarios.

                            First, I'm in a channel that's about 2 miles wide. I'm pulling up my shrimp pots so my boat is stopped. Another boat comes by, a larger boat throwing a big waves and he circles me waving, and checking out what I'm doing. His big waves cause my boat to rock. The rocking of my boat causes me to slip, and I am injured. Has he committed a crime? Is he liable for my damages?

                            Next scenario. I'm cruising slowly down the same two mile wide channel. I'm just going nice and slow enjoying a nice conversation with my friends. The same large boat comes by, going nice and fast, throwing a big wave. He continues to drive by. His large waves cause my boat to rock, I slip and fall, and am injured. Has he committed a crime? Is he liable for my damages?

                            Third scenario. I am in the same wide channel, driving along slowly, and the same large boat starts circling me, crossing my wake and Generally impeding my way. His large waves cause me to slip and fall and get injured. Has he committed a crime? Is he liable for my damages?
                            It all depends on where this happens. State laws are different so it could be clear or it could result in a civil suit.

                            In federal waters, if it goes to Admiralty court, you will both get some blame. The harasser for the wake and you for operating your vessel in such a manner as to allow harm to come from the wake.

                            This isn't legal advice. This is how "the law of the sea" is supposed to work.

                            "Navrules", also known as ColRegs (collision regulations), do not mention wake damage. They are concerned with how to behave around other boats so you don't run into each other. The inland rules do mention, and prescribe fines for, operation in a negligent manner that causes injury.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              So who is going to report the 1000 foot freighter doing 25 kts and throwing out a 15 foot wake that is 3 miles from you and you never saw. Fact is you need to watch and have eyes in the back of your head at times. Being hit by a wake and proving that the wake came from that boat when it is your word against theirs is impossible.

                              Three summers ago a guy in a large boat that puts out stupid wakes (Doug's favorite) came through an anchorage where DMCB and my self were anchored. Dishes every where stuff all over the floor, Doug's 16' boat went up onto his swim platform. I got on the radio and blasted them and called the CG, we are over 60 miles from any boating authority. Doug jumped into his boat and had words with them, I won't tell you what he said but it was enough for the two boats to decide to make their way to Killarney and not anchor for the night any where near us. To go after the guy for the damages that he did would have been very hard, could we get money out of him on the spot for damages, maybe but we were not in the mood for talking after what they did. When they left, it was hull speed, gave me a chance to get their boat names and put it out on the radio that they were headed to Killarney and what they had done.

                              It's not like a car accident where you can sit and wait for the police and they can see where the vehicles came to rest, skid marks and do a reconstruction. I am on a lake that see thousand of boats each weekend and the wakes are going in all directions and building.

                              As for your 3 scenario's if there was no deliberate intent to damage your boat I think you are SOL.

                              I have a question for the insurance people how would the insurance claim be handled in a state that has no fault insurance, is it handled the same way as a vehicle claim? If it is then it is a moot point about the wake and who's fault.

                              Ken
                              300SD all options sold.

                              Comment

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