Riding on a jet ski is one of those unique vacation experiences. You may look forward to it for months or spot the rental place and decide to try it on impulse. You may decide to jet-ski alone just to feel the wind on your face or with friends to share the experience. But what happens when a high-speed frolic turns into a tragic accident? A few hundred jet ski accidents and a small number of deaths happen every year. And it’s an unfortunate truth that because jet skis are high-speed recreation that the injured drivers are often blamed even when the accident was not their fault.
To discover who is responsible, you’ll need to consider all the factors at play. Jet ski accident liability isn’t as clear-cut as someone, say, getting injured on a theme park ride. Because there are so many contributors to the situation. Let’s take a look at a selection of other players who might be the root cause of this terrible accident.
Another Boat Driver
Courtesy in the marina and along tourist-covered coasts is incredibly important. The more people in the water, the more careful each boat and personal watercraft driver has to be. It is vital that boats not only give each other space, but also respect each other’s trajectories. You may be thinking that if another boat didn’t hit the jet ski to cause the accident, then a boat driver isn’t responsible. But that’s not necessarily true. If another boat cut across the water in front of your jet ski and left a wake wave, for example, they may be directly responsible for the accident.
The Jet Ski Rental Company
Rental businesses don’t always fulfill their full responsibilities. Whether this was an accidental oversight or purposeful corner-cutting negligence, the rental company is still liable for failing to complete their duties in providing safe watercraft rental.
Rental companies are responsible for keeping their jet skis in top condition, well-tuned to perform well with inexperienced drivers. If a malfunction occurs or something breaks while you are out on the water, this is the rental company’s failure.
The company is also responsible for giving you at least a quick summary of safety procedures. How to ride, how not to ride, and any local dangers. If, for example, there are sharks in the area your rental company is obligated to tell you before letting you go out on the water.
If the rental company is at fault, you may be worried about the liability waiver you signed to rent the jet ski. What you signed essentially says you won’t be coming back claiming to have a crick in the neck because the handles were at the wrong height.
However, if the rental company really did fail to maintain the vehicle and rented you a defective high-speed personal watercraft, that is not included in most liability waivers. Make sure your lawyer takes a look at the waiver so you have a real idea of what the limitations are.
The Marina or Waterfront Management Company
Most people don’t realize this, but there’s also a possibility that the marina or beachfront where you were riding might be at fault for the accident. Any stretch of water and beach that are designated for recreational activity, the organization that opens the area is also responsible for making sure the area is safe. Patrolling the water for dangers, marking shallow rocks, and monitoring safe recreational activities.
The marina or waterfront are also responsible for any buoys, lines, piers, and floating docks that are part of their recreational area infrastructure. If your jet ski hits a buoy that is out of place, or shallow rocks that should have been marked, then these are examples of the marina or waterfront management company being at fault.
The Jet Ski Manufacturer
If your jetski malfunctioned but you can’t figure out anything that you or the rental company did wrong, then the true responsible party might go all the way back to the manufacturer. Manufacturer errors do occasionally happen and personal injury suits are often the first time these risks are identified. In fact, if you successfully bring suit to a faulty manufacturer, you may save other lives by forcing them to do a recall on other units that may be defective as well.
A Tourist Guide Company
Finally, there is your tourist activity planning company or jet ski tour guide. Many people join a group or take a tour to enjoy their jet skis, meaning they are following the instructions and movements of someone who is supposed to be an expert with their safety in mind. If you were involved in an organized jet ski activity that resulted in an injury, there’s an unusually high chance that your injury was ultimately the fault of the tourist guide or their company.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a jet ski accident, the situation has so many layers that liability will take some investigating to discover. Was the marina a dangerous place to jet ski, or did your tour guide take you on a route too tough for beginners? Did your rental company fail to maintain the jet ski or warn you about local dangers, or did the manufacturer create a defective product that eventually failed under your use?
For more details on jet ski liability, to look over your rental liability waiver, or to consult on your case please contact us today. Our legal team is ready to help in any way we can.