What Boat Owners Need to Know about Admiralty Law


We’re all familiar with laws of the road, but did you know that there are specific laws that take effect especially for sailing on any public body of water? New and old boat owners beware, as there are many things which you may have done or will do that could potentially be breaking Admiralty Law. Read on to learn what Admiralty Law is, how it affects you, and what you can do to ensure that you’re not breaking it.

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What is Admiralty Law?

Also known as Maritime Law, Admiralty Law covers any injury or offense or any kind that occurs on the water. Although the law originally covered issues that occurred at sea, it has now been expanded and can be used for any body of water, such as lakes and rivers. These laws can often be reinforced by coast guards, and refer to altercations involving two or more ships, the passengers and the crew. The Admiralty Law is not to be confused with the Law of the Sea, which handles concerns such as navigational rights and jurisdiction over coastal waters.

Injuries to Passengers

As a boat owner, you have a duty to ensure that all your passengers are safe at all times, even if they are not paying customers but family and friends who came aboard for a fun relaxing sail. To ensure that everyone on board your boat is safe, including yourself, there are some measures you can take that may seem like common sense, but could end up not only protecting you from breaking Admiralty law but also save someone’s life. Make sure that there are always life jackets available, and if you’re tempted to party on the boat or have a relaxing beer in the sunshine, be aware that boat operators under the influence of alcohol are 10 times more likely to get into an accident. Injured passengers hold the legal right to take you to court if their injury results from the negligence of a third party. When this occurs, the injured passenger must prove that you were negligent, and the case must be pursued within three years.

Filing a Claim

Whether it was accidentally or purposefully, breaking admiralty law can result in huge repercussions if the case manages to make it to court. Just because you are the owner of the boat, it does not mean that you can’t file for injury against the other vehicle. That being said, if you, a friend or a loved one are involved in an altercation on the water and wind up with an injury, you can file for Admiralty claims and make sure that whoever broke the Admiralty law is brought to justice. Don’t forget though, if you are the captain of your boat at the time that one of your passengers or crew sustains an injury, a claim may be filed against you if the injury has taken place on any kind of public body of water, such as the ocean, lakes, and rivers.

Sailing can be a brilliant way to relax or have fun with your friends and family, however, don’t forget that whilst on the water you are responsible for the lives of every person on your boat. Don’t let this scare you away from sailing though! Proven to reduce stress levels, sailing can be a wonderful hobby if done responsibly. As long as you and all passengers, crew and other boats are safe, you can have a wonderful, relaxing time.