Have you been injured in a boating accident? You may have questions about whether you can sue for compensation and for how much. Or, who to make the lawsuit against. Or, what legislation applies and whether insurance is mandatory.
The basic answers to these questions are that, in Ontario, a piece of legislation called the Marine Liability Act, S.C. 2001, c.6 applies to determine liability; it contains the rules about the persons who can be sue and be sued; and it prescribes the maximum amount of compensation – $1 million dollars in most cases.
Regulations made under the Act require commercial vessels and public purpose ships carrying passengers to have: a) coverage of at least $250,000, multiplied by the passenger capacity of the ship; and b) proof of insurance. However, marine insurance is not mandatory for operators who use their boat for private pleasure. Nevertheless, it is advisable for such individuals to get marine insurance: first, because uninsured or underinsured coverage will provide you with coverage if you are injured in a boat accident and the operator of the other boat has no insurance or little insurance; and second, because it will provide you with coverage if you cause a boat accident and will thus protect your personal assets (e.g. house, investments) in the event of a civil suit by the victim.
Marine fatalities reached a 12-year high and were almost double over 2019, with 32 people killed in boating incidents. According to an OPP press release dated March 17, 2021, there were 17 fatalities that involved a capsized vessel and 12 that involved falling overboard. 29 of the deceased, constituting a majority, were found not wearing a lifejacket – a simple measure that might have saved their lives.
It is important to exercise care when boating. Wear a lifejacket, operate with caution, and consider getting marine insurance.
In this video, watch and listen to Toronto personal injury lawyer and litigator Ben Azimi address the contours of this important legal topic.