One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to boating is what does negligence on the water entail? These questions are warranted because it feels like the rules of the water are a lot less clear and the rules of the road but the importance of the knowing the rules of the water cannot be overstated.
Negligence is defined by Washington State law in RCW 46.61.5249 as "the failure to exercise ordinary care, and is the doing of some act that a reasonably careful person would not do under the same or similar circumstances or the failure to do something that a reasonably careful person would do under the same or similar circumstances." It is important to note that this definition does not change if someone is driving a boat instead of car. Negligence is negligence no matter what you are operating.
Some of examples of boat drivers exhibiting negligence are:
- Not paying attention to the operation of the vessel
- Failing to keep a proper lookout
- Failing to follow the navigation rules
- Causing danger from the effects of the vessel's wake
- Allowing passengers to ride on the bow, gunwales, or transom of a vessel not equipped with adequate railings to prevent falls overboard
These examples are not the only acts of negligence that one can do but they are the most common from the perspective that you they are easier to do. You do not need to be blatantly intoxicated or acting recklessly to be acting in a way that is negligent. Failing to properly look out or failing to follow the navigation rules are examples of negligence, which at some point or another we are all guilty of.
This summer, if you are out on the water, whether you are operating a boat, make sure that you are keeping your friends and family safe by making a conscious effort to avoid being negligence. Everyone here at Davis Law Group encourages you to have a good time but make sure that you stay safe.