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  1. #1

    Default What Type of Lawyer Covers Small Personal Property Boating Accidents

    Hi All,

    I'm having a hard time finding a lawyer to consult with about a small civil mater regarding a boat bumping into another boat and causing damages. Do you have any recommendations on the type of lawyer I should be seeking out? All Maritime lawyers seem to cover injury and wont take this case.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What Type of Lawyer Covers Small Personal Property Boating Accidents

    Quote Quoting b0chatma
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    Hi All,

    I'm having a hard time finding a lawyer to consult with about a small civil mater regarding a boat bumping into another boat and causing damages. Do you have any recommendations on the type of lawyer I should be seeking out? All Maritime lawyers seem to cover injury and wont take this case.

    Thanks
    It would likely be a small claims case. Lawyers in your state might not do small claims cases.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: What Type of Lawyer Covers Small Personal Property Boating Accidents

    Were you bumped into or did you do the bumping? And what state are you in?

  4. #4

    Default Re: What Type of Lawyer Covers Small Personal Property Boating Accidents

    I bumped a parked boat attached to a dock in Michigan when trying to turn around at the end of a channel. The owner is going hog wild with demands. The boat is from 1985 and isn't worth more than 5k. He's claiming $2300 in damages on something that is cosmetic and when the prior part was in complete shambles to begin with. Basically a 2 inch scratch on the outside of his boat that was weathered and cracked.

    His dock and two neighboring docks are pertinent structures that come out into a channel at the very end making it extremely difficult to turn around "hazard to navigation" and he never got approval for the docks or permits and neither did the other two neighbors. Most owners in the channel have docks that run parallel to the channel giving boaters more room to avoid these issues.

    This guy put his boat perpendicular in the channel so that he could squeeze 3 boats and a wave runner onto his waterfront.
    He's turned off by the idea of going to court but his demands seem outlandish. He's saying I'm liable but it seems he is liable because his docks were installed without a permit and they clearly are causing a hazard to navigation since I wasn't able to turn around without getting stuck and bumping one.

    Any thoughts?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: What Type of Lawyer Covers Small Personal Property Boating Accidents

    Do you have boater's liability insurance? If so, turn the matter over to your insurer and let it do its job. The insurer will retain an attorney to defend you if it becomes necessary. If you don't have appropriate insurance coverage, then you just handle this yourself and try to negotiate a settlement. If you can't do that, then it's up to the other guy to sue you, at which point pretty much any lawyer who handles civil litigation will be able to handle the case. Note that this is NOT a maritime law matter.

  6. #6

    Default Re: What Type of Lawyer Covers Small Personal Property Boating Accidents

    Any opinion on the potential liability being on him for having docks that don't have permits and are causing a hazard to navigation? He can sue me but doesn't he also have liability? I don't have boater's insurance. We rented the boat and didn't take out additional insurance.

    Also any opinion the limitation of what is reasonable in regards to damages? Would he really be able to sue me for 2300 on a 5000 boat for a scratch that is on a piece of the boat that is already beaten up? Seems unreasonable.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: What Type of Lawyer Covers Small Personal Property Boating Accidents

    Quote Quoting b0chatma
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    Any opinion on the potential liability being on him for having docks that don't have permits and are causing a hazard to navigation?
    Nope. You hit a stationary boat. Your fault. We get similar questions from people who hit parked cars and want to know if there is a defensed because the car was parked illegally. There isn't.

    Quote Quoting b0chatma
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    He can sue me but doesn't he also have liability?
    Yes.

    Quote Quoting b0chatma
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    I don't have boater's insurance. We rented the boat and didn't take out additional insurance.

    Also any opinion the limitation of what is reasonable in regards to damages? Would he really be able to sue me for 2300
    Too bad.

    Quote Quoting b0chatma
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    Also any opinion the limitation of what is reasonable in regards to damages? Would he really be able to sue me for 2300 on a 5000 boat for a scratch that is on a piece of the boat that is already beaten up? Seems unreasonable.
    You are welcome to have another boat repair person inspect the damage and write you an estimate that you can present to the other owner with your offer.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: What Type of Lawyer Covers Small Personal Property Boating Accidents

    Quote Quoting pg1067
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    Do you have boater's liability insurance? If so, turn the matter over to your insurer and let it do its job. The insurer will retain an attorney to defend you if it becomes necessary. If you don't have appropriate insurance coverage, then you just handle this yourself and try to negotiate a settlement. If you can't do that, then it's up to the other guy to sue you, at which point pretty much any lawyer who handles civil litigation will be able to handle the case. Note that this is NOT a maritime law matter.
    Michigan does not allow lawyers in small claims court, and this would definitely be a small claims court case.

  9. #9

    Default Re: What Type of Lawyer Covers Small Personal Property Boating Accidents

    This is what I read on docks and liability. Isn't this stating that if a dock creates a hazard to navigation that they are at risk of being liable for the damages? If not, I don't see why liability insurance would be available for docks. I would think that if he realized that he and his neighbors that don't have permits for their dock could be fined and have their docks removed which would also result in him having to get rid of or store his boat else where would be enough alone to drop this case. He's got a scratch on a 35 year old boat that is clearly aged. I would think if he would want to sue, both him, his neighbors, and I would all come out losing as a result. Anyway it all seems ridiculous to me. Like someone scratching the bumper of a 1985 chevy cavalier and threatening to sue while running the risk of losing their garage in the process due to them not having a building permit.

    Sources: https://mymlsa.org/docks-and-boat-ho...anted-to-know/
    Is there a limit on the length of a dock or how far out into the lake a swim raft can be anchored? At the common law, there is no definitive limit from the shore per se. However, such items cannot unduly interfere with navigability or the rights of other riparians to reasonably use their respective riparian properties. See Thompson v Enz, 379 Mich 667; 154 NW2d 472 (1967); Three Lakes Assn v Kessler, 91 Mich App 371; 285 NW2d 300 (1979); Pierce v Riley, 81 Mich App 39; 264 NW2d 110 (1978); West Michigan Dock & Market Corp v Lakeland Investments, 210 Mich App 505; 534 NW2d 212 (1995) and Square Lake Hills Condo Assn v Bloomfield Twp, 437 Mich 310; 471 NW2d 321 (1991).

    Pursuant to Michigan statute, a dock, boat hoist or swim raft cannot be a hazard to navigation. See MCL 324.80163. If it is, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) can require the riparian landowner to move or even remove such an item. And, if the property owner does not do so, the DNR might move or remove the item itself and bill the property owner for the cost. See MCL 324.80163.

    Given the potential for accidents on the waterfront, it very important for a riparian property owner to carry sufficient liability insurance regarding the riparian’s dock, boat hoist and swim raft. Keeping one’s dock and raft in a good and safe condition, as well as not placing them too far out into the water, can help minimize the potential for accidents, thus lowering the liability risk.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: What Type of Lawyer Covers Small Personal Property Boating Accidents

    Quote Quoting b0chatma
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    He can sue me but doesn't he also have liability?
    Neither you nor he has liability until a court says so. Until then, all he has is an argument that you ought to be found liable, and all you have is an argument that he ought to be found liable.


    Quote Quoting b0chatma
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    Also any opinion the limitation of what is reasonable in regards to damages?
    None whatsoever. Neither I nor anyone else here has ever seen the boat or a picture of it -- with or without damages. We don't even know what kind of boat it is and I have no expertise in boat repair. I have, however, owned automobiles for over 35 years, and I know that the amount to fix apparently cosmetic is often more than one might think just looking at it.


    Quote Quoting b0chatma
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    Would he really be able to sue me for 2300 on a 5000 boat for a scratch that is on a piece of the boat that is already beaten up?
    He "would be able to sue" you for $2,300 or $23 million. Anyone is able to sue anyone for anything. It sounds like this is basically the same question based on your incredulity about the claimed amount of damages.

    If he sues, he'll have to provide credible evidence of the damages. The best way to do that would be to have the repair done and present a bill to the court. If he doesn't do that, then he'll need a boat repair person to testify or to present a written repair estimate.

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