Boating Accidents Attorneys
in Durango, Colorado

From large lakes to winding rivers, streams, and ponds, boating is a favorite pastime that many Colorado residents enjoy. Despite being landlocked, residents have some of the most scenic marine environments the nation has to offer. Be it fishing, riding jet skis, or simply enjoying the peaceful tranquility of the still waters, boating is an enjoyable pastime. But what happens when an enjoyable pastime turns into a painful injury?

No one expects someone to get hurt during an outing on the water. Complex maritime and boating laws can make navigating a boating accident claim a nightmare. When injuries happen, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to review your case and provide legal advice on how to move forward. 

Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley, LLC understands personal injury cases and the network of laws surrounding maritime and boating accidents. Our attorneys are proud to serve clients in Durango, Colorado, as well as the neighboring areas of Telluride, Pagosa Springs, Cortez, and The Four Corners.

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Boating Accidents In Colorado

According to Colorado law, any vessel with a motor or sail operated in Colorado in any public body of water, including motorboats and sailboards, must be registered with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. However, there are exceptions, including:

  • Boats propelled manually, including canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and non-motorized rafts
  • Vessels holding a valid marine document issued by the United States
  • Foreign vessels temporarily using state waters
  • Vessels having valid registration and numbered in accordance with applicable federal or state laws for principal use and not used in Colorado for over 60 consecutive days
  • Non-resident racing boats on the day before, the day of, and at the site of a division-authorized racing event.

Airboats, motorboats, tugboats, wave runners, sailboards, jet skis, watercraft, powerboats, yachts, inflatable boats, and diving boats are all required to be registered.

Types Of Colorado Boating Accidents

Even though Colorado is landlocked, there are recreational boating, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs across the state that permit boating. Some types of accidents that can occur while boating include:

  • Collisions with fixed objects
  • Collisions with other vessels
  • Flooding incidents
  • Falls overboard
  • Running aground
  • Accidents involving a skier or person on a towable object
  • Explosions
  • Fires
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning

Liability For A Boating Accident

The following people may potentially be held liable for a boating accident in Colorado:

  • The driver/owner of the boat the injured person was on
  • The driver/owner of the other boat involved in the collision
  • The manufacturer of the boat
  • The manufacturer of any defective flotation device, part, or equipment
  • The dock owner
  • Anyone operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol
  • Any other person who negligently contributed to the accident or your injury

It’s vital to reach out to a skilled attorney to help you navigate your personal injury claim after someone’s negligence contributed to your boating accident.

Boating Accidents Laws

There are federal and state laws that govern boating operations and accidents that occur on navigable and non-navigable waters.

Federal Laws

Common examples of federal laws that govern commercial boating accidents that occur on navigable waters include:

  • The Jones Act protecting American citizens working at sea
  • The Oil Pollution Act mandating the removal of oil spillage and implementing certain procedures to determine liability and recover damages
  • The Death on the High Seas Act allowing families of deceased sailors whose death were caused by negligence on international waters to pursue wrongful death claims

State Laws

Colorado state laws that govern boating operations and accidents include:

  • Vessels must be registered with Colorado Parks and Wildlife before use
  • A person under the age of 16 cannot operate a vessel or boat
  • Boating accidents that result in injury, death, or more than $500 in property damage must be reported
  • Upon hearing a fog signal in areas of restricted visibility, boaters should reduce speed to the minimum at which the boat can be kept on course
  • If operating a power-driven vessel, you must give way to any vessel not under command, any vessel unable to maneuver, a vessel engaged in commercial fishing, or a sailing vessel
  • If operating a sailing vessel, you must give way to any vessel not under command, any vessel unable to maneuver, and a vessel engaged in commercial fishing
  • When two vessels or motorboats are running in the same direction, the one that desires to pass shall give a short blast to indicate its intention to overtake
  • When meeting head-on, either vessel shall signal its intention with one short blast and alter its direction
  • Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol (BAC of 0.10-.08%) is illegal

Proving Negligence

To prove negligence in a boating accident, the claimant must show that:

  • The defendant or boat operator owed you a legal duty of care
  • The defendant or boat operator breached that legal duty of care
  • The breach directly caused your injuries

Getting injured in a boating accident can change your life. Such an accident can create emotional distress, financial strain, and a lasting impact on your physical health. Regardless of the nature of your injuries, you don’t have to face the challenges alone. An experienced attorney can review your situation and explore the best legal options to recover damages.

Boating Accidents Attorneys
in Durango, Colorado

If you or a loved one was injured in a boating accident, hiring an experienced boating attorney can make a difference. At Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley, LLC., we will work hard to hold the responsible party accountable and help you seek compensation. Our firm serves accident victims and their loved ones across Durango, Telluride, Pagosa Springs, and the rest of Colorado.