Am I Legally Allowed to Let Someone Borrow my Boat?

The most common type of boating accident in Florida usually involves a collision with another vessel. Whether you are planning on going for a boat ride or thinking about loaning your vessel to someone outside of your household, it is crucial to understand the maritime laws in Florida. The repercussions from a serious boating crash could put you in a difficult financial situation. Speaking with a knowledgeable boat accident attorney may be essential to pursue compensation for damages and protect you from being sued in a personal injury lawsuit.

At the law firm of Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, our attorneys take boating accident cases seriously. If you have any questions regarding a maritime injury, call our firm today to schedule a complimentary initial evaluation. Our licensed lawyers have in-depth knowledge and experience working with the boating laws in the state of Florida.    

Read on to learn some of the laws and requirements boat owners must abide by in the Sunshine State, including whether you are legally allowed to loan your boat out to another individual. 

Florida Boating Laws

Victims who suffer damages from a serious boat crash are often left with debilitating injuries and hefty medical expenses that may accumulate during the recovery process. Depending on the details of the accident, boat owners may be held liable for a maritime injury in the event of a crash. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is responsible for enforcing boating safety laws throughout the state. Although boat owners in Florida are not required by law to carry insurance for their vessel, it is definitely a good idea to have enough coverage. Standard liability coverage provides protection against physical damage to your boat, passengers, and certain items on board. In addition, this type of coverage will also protect you if another boat is damaged in a crash or you cause damage to a dock or pier. 

Standard policies can range from $100,000 in $1,000,000 in coverage, depending on how much you choose to purchase. Having this coverage also means you are protected in cases involving theft, fire, or storm damage.  

However, similar to auto insurance, standard liability coverage does not provide these protections if you let someone borrow your boat. In other words, if you loan your boat out to someone and they are involved in a collision, you could be held liable for the damages in court. If this is the case, you will want to discuss your situation with a trusted attorney who has experience handling maritime accident cases. 

The Importance of Having Additional Coverage

Sometimes having standard liability coverage may not be enough in the event of a serious boat crash. A severe maritime injury could result in expensive medical costs and lost wages if the victim cannot return to work. To make the situation worse, costly boat repairs or replacing your vessel entirely, may leave you having to pay the difference out-of-pocket. This is why our lawyers recommend purchasing as much additional coverage as you can reasonably afford.

Although umbrella coverage is optional, we suggest adding it to your policy, especially if you plan to let other people borrow the vessel. This type of coverage will provide protection for yourself and others, should you choose to lend your boat to someone who may not be included in your policy. Another added benefit to owning an umbrella policy is the fact that some policies may include coverage for other recreational vehicles, such as boat trailers and ATV’s. Even though purchasing this coverage may significantly increase your monthly insurance payment, the benefits far outweigh the risks. 

Boaters Who Sign Liability Waivers

Boating is one of the biggest attractions in Palm Beach Gardens and throughout the Sunshine State. Therefore, the boat rental business can be lucrative for many vessel owners. However, many owners often require renters to sign a waiver of liability before handing over the keys.

This means the boat owner may not be liable for any damages sustained by the renter and his or her party, should an accident occur. However, for the waiver to be enforceable, it must meet two important requirements: 

  1. The waiver must unquestionably state the rights that are being waived.
  2. The waiver must be written clearly enough for an ordinary person to understand the rights that are being waived.  

However, simply having someone sign a waiver does not mean the boat owner is clear from all liability. If it is determined by the court that the waiver includes language that is questionable or confusing, it may be unenforceable, depending on the details.

Some liability waivers may include a stipulation that protects owners against negligent activities. However, if the specific activity is not listed on the waiver, it may not be enforceable in a court of law. If you have any questions about a boating waiver, contact a lawyer from our firm to discuss your legal options.

Learn Your Legal Options From a Lawyer You Can Trust

Although there are no laws that can prevent you from letting someone borrow your boat, it is critical to understand your legal options in the event of a crash. Even if you have standard liability insurance coverage, it may not be enough to pay for serious damages and you could be on the wrong side of a substantial lawsuit. Discussing your legal options with a licensed attorney may be crucial to keep you afloat in more ways than one. 

At the law office of Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, our attorneys know what it takes to win a maritime injury case. Our firm has more than four decades of legal experience while recovering over $100,000,000 in successful verdicts and settlements, combined. Our trusted attorneys are active members in serving the community in Palm Beach County and throughout the state of Florida (by appointment only). 

Contact our firm today to set up a no-cost initial review of your situation. There is no obligation needed and your information is kept completely confidential, so there is no risk involved. We aim to protect the rights of boat owners and maritime injury victims so that they can pursue the compensation they legally deserve.  

Let the attorneys at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers guide you through the legal process. Ph: (561) 800-8000.

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