Your afternoon at the lake went from being a relaxing and enjoyable time to becoming a virtual nightmare. The jet-ski that you rented malfunctioned and as a result you ran into a boat. The question is, who is legally and financially liable for the damage that was done to the boat?
Accidents That Involve Defective Property
When an accident is caused by the negligence of the operator of an automobile, determining fault is relatively easy. However, proving who is at fault when defective property leads to an accident is challenging but not impossible. To better understand who would be at fault, one must first understand the responsibility that the owner of the jet-ski has as well as the responsibility of the renter.
The Owner’s Responsibility
The owner of the jet-ski is legally required to make sure that anyone who uses his property is not put at risk because of a defect in the jet-ski or a failure on the part of the owner to provide proper maintenance. The idea behind this is that the owner of the jet-ski has constant control of the jet-ski and the individual who rents it does not. So, for example, if the jet-ski owner knows that the throttle sticks, he or she is responsible to have that repaired before renting it out. And they could be held liable for the damage caused to property and to the injuries that the rider sustained.
The Responsibility of the Renter
The individual renting the jet-ski has a responsibility to operate the machine in the authorized way, in a way that is neither careless or dangerous, and to avoid using the jet-ski in an unexpected manner. For example, if an individual rents a jet-ski and then attempts to use the jet-ski to jump over a boat, they are using the jet-ski in an unexpected and dangerous manner and therefore would be responsible for any injuries or damages that they caused.
The renter of the jet-ski would have had to fill out a rental agreement that likely included a waiver removing the jet-ski owner from responsibility for damages caused while the renter operated the jet-ski. Most agreements stipulated that the operator is liable for the accident if the accident happened as a result of negligence on their part.
In court, it may boil down to a he said, she said scenario. The owner of the jet-ski may try to prove that when they rented it, it was in optimum condition. The renter would have to prove that the jet-ski they received was defective.
If you have been injured in a marine related accident due to a malfunction or somebody else’s negligence, call Oldham & Smith at (352) 292-1620 or contact them online now!