Water skiing is an enjoyable activity that offers plenty of opportunity to feel free under the sun. Of course, water skiing is a sport conducted at high speed, behind a boat and inevitably involving a big splash in the water when the ride is over.
When something goes wrong during water skiing and injuries occur, who is responsible? A qualified personal injury attorney can help you find the right answers in your case.
Determining responsibility in these types of sports and recreation injury cases can be difficult. But it is very important to know where liability falls, when things go awry. Regardless of whether sustained injuries are from hitting the water too hard, colliding with an object, lack of swimming ability or other causes, calling an experienced law firm is the right decision.
— Water Skiing Safety Is Critical —
Lawsuits from water skiing injuries can be avoided through proper operation of equipment and safety measures. Water skiers should always wear a safety vest, know how to swim, and have good understanding of rules put in place for their own protection. When operating a boat that pulls skiers, it is important that a driver is trained in how to perform behind the wheel, knows where lifesaving equipment is located on the boat, and knows how to render lifesaving aid. Preparedness is key, but safe operation of the boat and properly pulling the skier are critical.
When accidents do occur, quick response is essential. When auto accidents happen, drivers are instructed to call EMTs and wait for their arrival for professional evaluation of injuries. But in an accident on or near the water, it may be necessary to proceed with emergency aid before the professionals arrive. Around water, accidents often involve open wounds, broken bones and possible drowning. So it is very important that the victim is stabilized, transported to land and readied for pickup by emergency teams.
One important thing to remember when providing first aid is that spinal injuries may be involved. Ensure their neck and back are supported and slowly return them to shore while avoiding choppy water, high speed, or extreme jarring from boat movement. Prevention of additional injuries is critical.
— Negligence in Water Skiing Accidents —
Determining who is responsible in water skiing accidents can be as difficult as it is for other types of injuries. There is risk in water skiing, even when everything is properly executed and safety precautions are taken. Because of this risk, many states consider water skiers responsible for their own risk. That means that others may not be held liable when an accident occurs, unless gross negligence is discovered or the accident was found to be due to intentional actions.
In other states, liability is determined in a manner similar to a car accident case. Considerations include:
- Who caused the injury
- Was the injury avoidable
- What was the proportionate level of fault for the boat driver
- How much was the skier to blame
- Were third parties at fault in some manner
- Were alcohol or drugs involved
- Did the boat operator drive into a dangerous area
- Was the skier being reckless or engaging in dangerous behavior
- Was the accident avoidable with reasonable care
— Legal Considerations of a Water Skiing Accident —
When a water skiing accident occurs, all of the aforementioned factors are included in legal consideration. A negligence standard will most often be how the case is determined. The plaintiff is responsible for showing that a duty of care was owed by the defendant, that the duty of care was not met, and injuries to the plaintiff resulted from that failure to provide a duty of care.
When negligence is determined, the defendant will often try to show how the plaintiff was responsible for his or her own injuries. An argument based on assumption of risk may arise. This argument is that the activity holds inherent danger known to those who engage in water skiing. It also will be used to show how that means that the water skier knew about the risk and accepted responsibility for the potential injury when participating in the activity.
Those assumption of risk arguments will not be effective against gross negligence or intentional misconduct, of course. But if the plaintiff is shown to have acted inappropriately in a manner that caused their own injury, the defendant’s liability may be reduced.
Things can get fairly complex at this point, when plaintiff behavior and assumption of risk are called into question. This is why it is so important to work with an experienced lawyer who has handled water skiing and other accident claims successfully in the past. An experienced, licensed attorney from a reputable law firm can help you navigate the maze of complicated laws to determine potential liability and damages for your injuries.